As our woodlands burst into life once again, we revel in the sights, sounds and smells that accompany this most magical of seasons: it’s time to visit the forest again.
After one of the longest, coldest winters in living memory, spring has finally arrived. With the mercury edging slowly upwards, we can step into the sunshine and breathe again. And where better to witness the enchanting alchemy of this vibrant new life than deep in the forest?
Change is everywhere
Colourful spring flowers are pushing aside the winter browns and greys. Daffodils, late this year, have been joined by wood anemone, celandine and cow parsley; and the rich green stems of May’s bluebells are transforming the forest floor into a verdant carpet, which, very soon, will be a vibrant sea of blue. Raise your eyes and you can witness the deciduous trees burst into life; clean, green budding leaves, unfurling to create the canopy that will last until autumn.
Winter hibernators are shaking off their torpor, and tentatively sniffing at the fresh spring air. In Forest Holidays’ more southern locations search out shy dormice in hazel trees as they emerge from hibernation. Look out too, for hedgehogs, squirrels and even young roe deer as May turns into June. Spring is a time of intense activity in the forest. Insects are suddenly busy again, butterflies and ladybirds are taking to the air, frogs are spawning and the cycle of life begins once more.
Migratory birds such as chiff-chaffs and swallows are returning from their sub-Saharan winter homes. If you wake particularly early in your woodland cabin, step quietly onto the decking and listen to the dawn chorus: skylarks, song thrushes, robins and a dozen other species filling the moments before dawn with birdsong, in order to find a mate. Look for evidence of nest-building too, which is now underway in earnest.
Yes, change is all around, and a spring stay in the forest will be rewarded with new sights, smells and sounds every day. Take your camera out on your woodland walks and send us your spring photographs. Focus on colours, light and shade, new life and images that capture the season’s magic. Send your pictures to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will publish the best.
Spring is a particularly good time to come to the forest as a family, even for a weekend break. There is so much for children to see and do, and their understanding and appreciation of the natural world will be greatly enriched.
And you? Feel the warmth of the sun on your back, and enjoy the promise of a long, warm summer ahead. The natural world is waking up, and to experience the sheer joy of being alive, no other season beats spring for a break in the forest.
Did you know?
Dormice, bats and hedgehogs are the only UK mammals that truly hibernate during the winter months.
Did you know?
British swallows that have migrated for winter return to the UK in April and May after travelling 15,000km from South Africa. They have covered 200 miles a day, at speeds of 17-22 miles per hour.
Top 6 Woodland Spring Flowers
- Primroses (Primulus vulgaris): Along with snowdrops, one of the earliest signs of spring. You might catch the last of these native flowers with their pale yellow petals and crumpled, deep-green leaves.
- Daffodils (Narcissus pseodonarcissis): The familiar hosts of golden flowers that herald the arrival of spring-proper, and last only until the spring sunshine finally chases away the winter chill.
- Wood anemone(Anemone nemorosa): Also known as Grandmother’s nightcap, look for white petals, around a yellow centre. Wood anemone blooms in the first few weeks of spring before the forest canopy becomes too dense.
- Ramsons (Allium ursinum): Better known as wild garlic. Follow your nose and be pleasantly surprised by these delicate white flowers, like miniature fireworks against a backdrop of broad green leaves.
- Early Purple Orchid(Orchis mascula): A rare but beautiful plant found in ancient woodland. Look for tall stems with clusters of around 50 deep purple flowers with dark spots.
- Bluebells (Hyacinthoides non-scripta): As spring heads toward summer, one of the highlights of the woodland year is the English bluebell season – a must-see spectacle.