What does spring mean to you? If it’s Easter eggs, new season fashion, and the Grand National, you might be missing something more fundamental. Head outside and witness the reawakening of the natural world.
Here’s our countdown of 21 signs that spring is truly here:
Six cute (and not so cute) animals that tell you it’s spring
1. Lambs – one of our earliest and most loved signs of spring is lambs gambolling around our fields. Ewes are fertile only once a year, in the autumn, which is why all the lambs are born in spring.
2. Hares – ever seen mad March hares ‘boxing’ in a meadow? It’s often because the female is getting unwanted male attention and is slapping the male down. We’ll leave it there, but if you want to find out more, have a look at our feature on hares.
3. The return of the migratory birds – spring traditionally begins at the first sound of the cuckoo. The birdsong builds as the chiffchaffs arrive in March, followed by the swallows and house martins in April and the swifts in May.
4. Frogs and toads – they’re not cute but they are endlessly fascinating, particularly if you are under the age of seven. After hibernating through the winter, our frogs and toads are now returning to ponds in great numbers.
5. Fluffy chicks – little yellow chicks are as close to nature as Easter seems to come. Out in the natural world, our ponds and lakes are a picture of cuteness, with lines of downy ducklings, goslings and cygnets following their parents around. Book a spring break at Deerpark and see what’s happening on the millpond.
6. Hedgehogs – after their winter hibernation, hedgehogs emerge and snuffle their way into spring. They are nocturnal creatures, so look out for on a Forest Ranger Night Vision Adventure.
Five flowers that bloom in spring
7. Crocuses – suddenly, amid the monotone of the winter grass, bright purple and yellow crocuses are appearing, a bright and colourful sign that spring is happening.
8. Daffodils – do the crocuses send word to the daffodils? These simple, cheerful flowers are another spring-time favourite which make their entrance just as the crocuses die down. Stay at Cropton or Keldy and enjoy the walk through ‘Daffodil Dale’ in the North York Moors National Park.
9. Bluebells – as spring progresses it’s the turn of the bluebells. Delicate, nodding heads create a shimmering blue haze in woodlands across the country. They are a site to behold beneath the towering beech trees at Blackwood Forest.
10. Tulips – in the more manicured flower beds of parks and gardens, tulips take the spring colour festival to a new level, with every hue from purple-black to vibrant orange. Enjoy the display in the walled garden at Clumber Park near to Sherwood Forest.
11. Rhododendrons – big, brassy and thrilling, rhododendrons are flowering plants that have a tendency to take over wherever they are, but oh…what colour they bring to springtime! Visit Ardkinglas Woodland Garden, near to Ardgartan Argyll for a spectacular display.
Four beautiful blossom trees in spring
12. Blackthorn – one of the earliest trees to blossom; blackthorn is a sure sign that winter is over. Boughs heavy with frothy white blossom can be found across the British countryside, none more beautiful than those at Thorpe Forest.
13. Magnolia – the creamy pink and white flowers of the magnolia bloom and are gone in the blink of an eye, but in that short, glorious moment they are a feast for the senses, releasing their sweet perfume into the spring air.
14. Cherry – the sight of rows of cherry trees crowned in pink blossom tells you that spring is established, and summer is around the corner. Take a walk on a carpet of pink petals along the riverside path in Stirling, near Strathyre.
15. Hawthorn – the white blossom of the hawthorn is an age-old spring sight in hedgerows and woodland in the UK. Wrapped in superstition and mythology, hawthorn has been associated with May Day celebrations for centuries.
Three insects that are waking up
16. Bumble Bees – Where there is blossom, there is pollen, and where there is pollen there are insects! After a winter hidden away underground, queen bees emerge to start building their colonies for a new year.
17. Butterflies - Also looking for pollen are butterflies. Of the 59 species of butterfly in the UK, look out in the springtime for painted ladies, red admirals, and tortoiseshells.
18. Ants – As temperatures rise in their underground nests, ants reawaken. There’s something about ants getting busy in the spring that’s far more acceptable than their appearance in force on a hot summer’s day.
Two green shoots of spring
19. Unfurling ferns – among the oldest plant-life on the planet, ferns have been opening their feathery fronds to the dappled spring sunshine since pre-historic times.
20. Wild garlic – beneath the woodland canopy swathes of wild garlic fill the air with their unmistakable scent. We have thousands of them at Forest of Dean. Look for their deep-green foliage and delicate white flowers.
One big, bright sun
21. Aah...spring sunshine - is there anything more wonderful than that spring day when can once again feel the warmth of the sun? That’s when we know that everything is all right with the world.
Our forest locations are the perfect place to remind yourself what spring is all about. Book a spring break now to rediscover springtime!