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Spring has Sprung

Hello Spring! How our forests are bursting into life once again.

Spring has well and truly sprung across the UK and our Forest Rangers have been telling us how it has transformed the forests around them.

Goodbye winter, we won’t miss you. The natural energy of spring is sweeping us along and the forests are once again teeming with new life. Here, our Forest Rangers report on some of the seasonal wonders that make this the ideal time for a Forest Holiday.

Squirrel surveying his surroundings

Hedgehogs and toads, butterflies and blackthorn

From Charlie, Forest Ranger at Thorpe Forest in Norfolk.

"We are eagerly anticipating the emergence of our winter hibernators; we saw our first hedgehog on my Night Vision walk on 30 March. It was making a lot of noise in the leaf litter, snouting out its dinner and we got really close up to it using our torches.

We had toads galore back at the beginning of March. I have been recording my sightings via The Norfolk Wildlife Trusts website as this is one of the 3 species they are asking us to record this month.  Amanda who works in our Forest Retreat has a real phobia of toads so this hasn't been a good time for her!

Our blackthorn bushes are just blossoming – so beautiful. The hardwood tree buds are opening now too and new leaves have started to appear. We have just received our wild flower seed packs from Grow Wild and we have sown them in a pair of old wellies, near to our bug hotel in the hope of attracting more butterflies and bees.

On a recent walk in the forest I saw two bumble bees and a peacock butterfly, and earlier this month I spotted a brimstone butterfly. We are now awaiting our first snake and bat... any time soon."

Blackthorn blossom

Bluebells and bumble bees, slow worms and rabbits

From David Read, Forest Ranger at Blackwood Forest.

"I noticed my first bluebells on 10 March and it won't be long before parts of Blackwood Forest are carpeted in blue.

I saw my first slow worms out in the open a week later on 17th March, which you will see in the picture. I also have a video of that same slow worm moving very slowly – living up to its name.

I've seen a number of brimstone butterflies over the last few weeks, and one peacock butterfly very recently. The bumble bees are out and about, the birds are very active, and I'm also seeing slightly more roe deer than I have over the winter. We are starting to hear the owls on Night Vision and the rabbit warren we visit is also getting very active."

Slow worm

Spring flowers and squabbling geese, bats and blue tits

From Martin, Forest Ranger at Deerpark.

"It’s been a slow spring at Deerpark but we know it’s coming when we see the red cups of the scarlet cap fungi, the yellow blooms of opposite-leaved golden saxifrage, bluebells and oil beetles splashing their electric blue colour over bright yellow lesser celandine flowers….

…and the geese squabbling over territory. The two Canada geese are nesting on the lower pond by the magnificent gunnera plants and Mr Goose is using the newly created island to keep an eye on things. 

Also on the pond, toad spawn is plentiful and the Daubenton's bats can now be seen hunting insects that have fallen onto the water. Alongside the forest rides, newts hunt insects in puddles that will prove all too temporary as summer arrives.

On the birdwatching front, greater spotted and green woodpeckers are drumming for territory, buzzards can be seen wheeling overhead – this is the time they pair up, their mewing cries echoing across our deep valley. Nuthatches and blue tits are looking for nesting sites - our new feeder station will be great for them to bring up their young."

Toadspawn (left) and a blue tit visits the feeding station (right)

Wild garlic, wheeling buzzards and nesting peregrine falcons

From Gerry, Forest Ranger at the Forest of Dean.

"The forest is starting to burst into colour, with flowers such as the lesser celandine springing up everywhere. The forest air is beginning to fill with the scent of wild garlic. Last year was a bumper year for this plant and early signs are showing that it may be the same again this year. 

Our nesting peregrine falcons are back on the cliff edge at Yat Rock and regular sightings are occurring of the male and female. Fingers crossed for another successful year of egg-laying.

Almost daily, I notice the increase in bird song. As well as songbirds, our resident buzzards are soaring over the meadow on fine days. Their display flights and mewing calls are, for me, the essence of spring."

Lesser celandine

Enjoy springtime in the forest

Spring crept in quietly for a while but now it is evident everywhere, from tree blossom to wild flowers, from butterflies to birds, from wakening hibernators to inquisitive mammals.  Lift your spirits with a spring stay in the forest. Book a Forest Ranger activity and learn more about the rebirth of the forest in springtime.