Highlights of a busy April

Lorienne Whittle, 16/05/2019

Thank you to everyone who submitted records to Nature’s Calendar last month. April was a busy month for nature and so many of you have been eagerly watching out for events and recording with us.

Meanwhile we have been analysing the records you submitted in the latter half of 2018, so watch this space for updates on what they reveal.

 

The next generation of wildlife

A blackbird collects worms to feed young (Elizabeth Scully)

Male blackbird feeding young (Joan Smith)

Fledgling blackbird leaving the nest (Valerie Hill)

Looking through the photos submitted with records each month is always inspiring and helps us keep in touch with what is happening with nature across the UK. Recorders can also include comments, which not only helps describe the event but also brings it to life. This description of a blackbird family really stood out, as one recorder was lucky enough to watch at the exact point the juveniles braved leaving their nest.

 

‘I hoped today would be the day the babies fledged and came downstairs to find that No 1 was already out, on a low bush but still fairly close to the nest. The photograph is of No 2 who took about half an hour to decide to leave his perch next to the nest; he then attempted to land on some maple leaves, clung desperately upside down before falling fortuitously into a clump of campanulas on the terrace. No 3 followed soon after, then No 4. No 5 is taking a long time to leave the now spacious nest but is cheeping noisily whenever an adult is near to feed him. How five fluffy birds fitted into a small space is a miracle.’’

 

Trees and shrubs come to life

A quick glimpse at our phenology calendar will reveal what a busy month April is for a wide variety of wildlife. Whether it’s budburst, first leaf or first flowering, most trees and shrubs are reacting to the longer, warmer and sunnier days, greening our landscape. Look more closely and you’ll also spot their flowers.

Horse chestnuts have flowers on distinctive upright spikes (Stephen Middleton)

Like alder and hazel, silver birch have catkin flowers (Susan Tindall)

First flowering elder records were submitted in April (Carol Elias)

Hawthorn, also known as 'the May flower' was recorded in April (Victoria Heywood)

Top flower photos

The majority of your bluebell records came through in April, as can be seen from our map showing the timings of first flowering across the country. Bluebells are still in flower here in Lincolnshire, so if you haven’t had the chance to take a stroll through beautiful woodland carpeted with bluebells yet, there may still be time.

I have also included top photos of cuckoo flower and garlic mustard, both also widely recorded as first flowering in April. Look out for oxeye daisy next (we have had 6 records so far), and then ivy first flower later in the summer. 

The distinctive droopy bell shaped flowers of native bluebells (Nick Snelling)

Cuckoo flower ranges in colour from pale pink to white (Emma Somerfield)

Garlic mustard perfectly captured when first flowering (Ingunn Ruffles)

More highlights from April

We have had so many records and great photos it seemed a shame not to include more. The grasses are historically an under recorded group, but yet so important to observe for a variety of reasons. Nature’s Calendar data on flowering grass timings was used in an important study on pollen allergies. Whilst it may be a little late to record the first sight of flowering meadow foxtail, Yorkshire fog is usually a little later flowering so keep your eyes out for this pretty grass.

 

A comma showing off it’s beautiful, unusual wing shape (S Matthews)

Flowering meadow foxtail, a less frequently recorded Nature’s Calendar (Mark Hawkins)

Notoriously hard to photo, this swallow takes a moment to perch (Marie Harbour)

There are less Nature’s Calendar species to record through the summer, but there are still a few natural events  to keep an eye out for which you’ll find on our phenology calendar. Look out for dog rose (first flowering) which can often be spotted scrambling along hedgerows at this time of year.

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Join thousands of other people and let us know what's happening to wildlife near you.

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