Now that the spring weather is getting warmer and the days are longer there is a lot of activity in the natural world. The birds are beginning to sing again and to feed hungrily. Squirrels will be digging for buried nuts and seeds (probably closely followed by the crafty Jay who will steal the squirrel’s buried food).
The squirrels will be making a dray ready for their kits to be born in February. By then it will be a hungry time for the squirrels and they will be eating buds and bark as well as the buried food. So keep an eye open for birds beginning to flirt and pair and squirrels to chase each other and squabble.
Plants, too are beginning to grow and produce buds and new shoots. See how many you can find and see how many different types of bud and colours of bud you can find. My favourites are the sticky brown buds of the Horse Chestnut tree and the black buds of the Ash tree. Here are some ideas to search for, not just in parks but in gardens too.
Underground bulbs are sprouting ready to share their flowers in the spring. These shoots are from the snow drop. When they show their flowers look carefully underneath and notice the little green marks like little green hearts. They are not all the same. How many different kinds can you find?
Not all shoots growing from the ground are from bulbs. These are from the Day Lilies which won’t flower until the summer. They have beautiful bright orange and yellow flowers and each one only lasts for one day. Look out for them and see how many flowers each stem produces. There are lots and lots of different Day Lilies.
Another sign of spring is the catkin on hazelnut trees, pussy willows and alder trees. Some trees have two kinds of catkins, male and female on the same tree. Can you find it? This picture is of the catkins on a Hazel tree and they will form round brown nuts later in the summer and autumn ready for the squirrel to pick and bury in the ground to eat later.
To be a Nature Detective all you need are sharp eyes and ears, but if you also want to take a camera, paper and pencil to draw things you see, and a magnifying glass for a really close look it will be even more fun.
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