Valentine’s Day is also mating season

Springtime is the prime mating season for most birds
Springtime is the prime mating season for most birds
Len Chivers, 93, left, from Old Portsmouth and Vic Merry, 92, from Southsea 
Picture: Malcolm Wells (170825-9295)

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WITH Valentine’s Day just around the corner, it’s a fantastic time to see our incredible wildlife’s courtship and mating habits.

Here’s the Wildlife Trust’s guide to some of the weird and wonderful things our local wildlife gets up to at this time of year.

Spring is the start of the breeding season for many birds, including one of our most common birds, the chaffinch.

At this time of year the youngest male birds begin to establish and defend their territory, often in our woodlands and gardens.

During the breeding season, the males start their courtship in spring with a melodious song and showing off their bright plumage, and females use the quality of the song to help them choose the strongest mate.

In springtime you can take a ringside seat at the mating ritual of our brown hares.

They’re usually solitary creatures but at this time of year you might glimpse females fending off passionate mating urges from the males.

The pugilists are actually the females, spurning the advances of amorous males by boxing their prospective partners.

If you’re lucky you can see females does standing on their hind legs and using their front to paws to literally box with the male bucks.

Through this they test the males’ strength before deciding whether to proceed on the next step of courtship.

With their activity much more noticeable before grass and crops in our countryside have grown up to their full height, it is not surprising that the ‘mad March hare’ has come to have such a strong connection with the spring.

Turning to our seas, seahorses are often thought to be an excaptionally romantic species – males and females come together every morning to dance together and reinforce their relationship.

During this beautiful ritual, they often entwine their tails and move round each other. Famously females transfer their eggs into the male’s pouch, and he later gives birth to miniature offspring.

Sea hares, like all sea slugs are hermaphrodite, meaning that have both male and female reproductive organs. When it comes to mating time, they often form love chains acting as female and male to different partners simultaneously when mating! Both seahorses and sea hares can be found in the lush underwater seagrass meadows in our Solent seas.

If you would like to find out more about the wildlife living on your doorstep, you can visit hiwwt.org.uk