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Wildlife Calendar - March


Alder bud

As the saying goes – “March comes in like a lion and out like a lamb” and many years this is true, with cold, often snowy weather in early March followed by milder weather later in the month. This changing of the season triggers plants and animals to change their habits from pure survival to growth and reproduction.

Nothing can prove this better than the amphibians – Frogs have woken from their hibernation at the bottom of ponds and damp places to jump (literally!) straight into egg laying antics at wildlife ponds across the country in March. You may see a “frog ball”, when lots of males all try to piggy-back a female for the best spot to fertilise her eggs. Toads and newts are at it too, and you can tell which amphibian has been in your pond by their eggs. Frog eggs are laid in a big mass, each egg surrounded by jelly, whereas toad eggs are laid in long double strands. Newt eggs may not be so obvious, as they are generally laid singly on pond plants.

On sunny days you may be tempted to tidy your borders of dead plant material – It’s best to leave it for a few more weeks as it will give the bugs and insects that have made their home there more of a chance in milder temperatures, but if you need to remove some, keep the clippings in a corner of your garden or on a compost heap for a while. It’s a good time to prepare or tend to a wildflower meadow – grow on your own plants from seed or cuttings (native species – from local sources if possible). Find out how to prepare and look after a “pocket meadow” in our wildlife garden guides.

Bird feeding continues to be important at this time – it has been proven that birds fed with a variety of foods types are more successful when egg laying and rearing young. Trying different types of food on hanging feeders, ground feeders and bird tables will give you an idea of what works for the birds in your area at different times of the year. Also, be sure to exercise good hygiene when feeding birds - we have produced a video that describes how to keep your bird feeders and feeding areas clean to prevent bird diseases.

Nesting season has started now, and it is still a good time to put up one or two more nest boxes in your garden. Many species of bird are a bit fussy and have specific requirements for nesting, and that’s why we offer different styles of nest box to suit their needs.

If you are lucky you may see a hedgehog rise from her slumber and start to feed on what she can find. Many of her natural foods are in short supply, so it’s a good time to supplement this with some specially formulated hedgehog foods. Mammals are a little elusive at this time as they tucked away in their homes, preparing to give birth to their young.

Finally, you may spot some of the more hardy butterflies that have overwintered as adults, such as peacock, small tortoiseshell, comma and red admiral are venturing out from their chosen refuge on sunny days to find early nectar and re-establish their territories.