Countryfile Magazine - - Spring On Your Doorstep -

FLOWERS From sweet-scented blos­soms and the first snow­drops and vi­o­lets to that egg-yolk yel­low of erupt­ing daf­fodils, spring is one long flower frenzy. Keep an eye out for prim­roses, the porce­lain-look­ing leaves of gar­den mag­no­lias and, later, that aque­ous wash of light-streaked blue­bells in full bloom.

BEES At­tracted by the flowers, spring also sees our most love­able pol­li­na­tors emerg­ing. Bum­ble­bees – on the hunt for nec­tar – lum­ber be­tween bursts of colour; like­wise honey bees and soli­tary bees thrum through our mead­ows and any­where where the food’s plen­ti­ful. It’s a plea­sure to hear the warm­ing drone again.

BUT­TER­FLIES With in­creas­ing sun­light and food, early spring mi­grants to these shores in­clude some of our best-loved but­ter­flies, such as the painted lady. Small tor­toise­shells, com­mas, the pea­cock, brim­stone and some red ad­mi­rals all over­win­ter here and emerge from hi­ber­na­tion. En­coun­ter­ing a but­ter­fly on a wall, beat­ing its wings and bask­ing, can be a beau­ti­ful spring sight.

BAD­GERS My first re­ally mem­o­rable en­counter with wild an­i­mals was be­ing taken to watch bad­gers as a boy in the scrappy ground behind my child­hood home. Spring is per­fect for such sor­ties as bad­ger cubs start to shake off the cabin fever of months un­der­ground by mak­ing their first play­ful for­ays in April and May. Look for signs of a sett in day­light, then re­turn pre-dawn, sit quiet and stay down­wind.

BIRDS As any­one with­out dou­ble-glaz­ing will tell you, the bright­en­ing skies of early spring her­ald a mighty crescendo of a dawn cho­rus. Step out­side and you’ll likely hear bird­song at this time of year, and it’s a sound that bright­ens any com­mute. There’s much nest-build­ing too; ex­pect to see many species zip­ping about with beaks full of build­ing ma­te­ri­als.

BABY WILDLIFE Lambs may be the cute poster boys, tot­ter­ing around on un­steady legs or gadding about the fields like hooli­gans, but many wild species take ad­van­tage of the calmer, warmer weather ahead to raise their young. Look out for baby fal­low deers, squir­rels, coot, foxes, mal­lards, hedge­hogs and, in pud­dles and ponds, the dart­ing, inky squig­gles of tad­poles.

WILD GARLIC Grow­ing thick through wood­land and up river verges and un­der bridges, the un­mis­tak­able garlic-scented ram­son – or wild garlic – scents many a spring stroll. It’s the dream in­gre­di­ent for the for­ager; wild garlic is de­li­cious when cooked in but­ter and turned with pasta, or blitzed into pesto with Wens­ley­dale and wal­nuts.

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