ALSO LOOK OUT FOR…
A small species of the Bombus genus, early bumblebees have distinctive ginger tails and one or two yellow bands around their shaggyhaired bodies. Those seen in gardens this month are queens foraging or prospecting for suitable nestsites – compost heaps and old birds’ nests may be used.
The brimstone is the longest lived of our native butterflies and can survive for up to 11 months. Adults on the wing in March emerged last August then hibernated through the winter. Bright, sulphuryellow males (females are paler) are often seen flitting along roadside verges from now until June.
They might be beaten back to Britain by sand martins or wheatears, but chiffchaffs are the first of our spring arrivals to sing. Their eponymous, two-tone chime is the most reliable way to distinguish these olive-green warblers from superficially similar willow warblers.
Wherever there is running water, there’s a good chance of finding opposite-leaved golden saxifrage. Look for the tiny (3–5mm) yellow-green flowers and paired, rounded leaves that form creeping mats on damp riverbanks and sheltered streamsides. This moistureloving plant is widespread in Britain, but most common in the west.