With yellow weather warnings in place in some areas, we could be forgiven for thinking, will spring ever come? It’s definitely not the time to be putting jumpers away, so wrap up warm and head out to enjoy everything spring has to offer. If you have pets, you will know to be mindful of the joys and perils of spring.
The joys of spring
Wildlife is all around us, we just need to open our eyes and see. March is the month of chilly mornings and frosty lawns; brave little flowers poking their heads up, starting to burst into bloom. A month full of hope, with lambs being born in the fields giving new life. Here are just a few things to look out for this month…
Nothing signals spring like the joyful song of the blackbird as he leads the dawn chorus, quickly joined by smaller birds like finches and tits. Getting up that early is not everyone’s idea of fun. But if you do, you will be handsomely rewarded.
The male’s singing signals the start of breeding season, which for a blackbird lasts from early March to late July. The male blackbird might do all the singing, but did you know their nests are built by the female and are usually in trees, shrubs and climbers? Nests may also be found inside buildings or sheds and even on the ground if they find a suitable spot. So be careful not to disturb them when rooting around in the shed. And when you’re outside, look where you are stepping!
Toads don’t feature much on most people’s spring radar, but did you know that spring is the annual migration time for the UK’s toads as they make their way back to the place where they were born to spawn?
Toads can be found in damp areas of woodland, parks, and many other scrubby areas with places to hide. They hibernate during winter in log piles, burrows or leaf litter. Once they wake, they wait for mild, wet weather and move en masse back to ponds and lakes. This can be dangerous as it often involves crossing roads, so keep an eye out for them when you’re driving and avoid if you can.
Primroses give us an early burst of spring colour. But their nectar also gives a much-needed boost to bumblebees and butterflies emerging from hibernation. Guaranteed to bring a flutter of brightness to your garden, Peacocks and Red Admirals all hibernate in the UK as adults but emerge in early spring. They search for their favourite early flowering plants to feed on, and will gladly visit your garden to relish the newly blossomed crocuses, dandelions and narcissus. To see such beautiful creatures is a lovely reward for the time spent on your hands and knees planting bulbs the previous autumn!
Bring the wildlife indoors
Not everyone is able to venture outside to look for wildlife, so why not let wildlife come to you? There are some great, reasonably priced wildlife cameras, often called a trail camera or camera trap, that can be set up to record live footage of the animals that visit your garden so you can reconnect with nature from the comfort of your home. You could even upload your videos to social media to share the joy of wildlife with others!
The perils of spring
Hedgehogs, affectionately known by some as Hedgepigs, are native to mainland Britain. Hedgehogs can live up to 10 years, but over half die within their first year and the average life expectancy is 2 to 3 years in the wild. Hedgehog numbers are declining, and they are facing a new challenge due to climate change. These milder winters are affecting hibernation, with some hedgehogs waking up in March, a month earlier than they should! Once they are awake, they need to replenish energy but there are no food sources available, so, many become weak and vulnerable to infection and die.
Mild springs lead to people tidying up their gardens earlier than usual and one of the most convenient tools, but dangerous to a hedgehog, is a strimmer. Many resting hedgehogs are inadvertently killed by a strimmer. So, before you strim, try to take a few moments to check the undergrowth for all wildlife, not just hedgehogs. This also applies to garden bonfire heaps; they should be turned over before being burnt, as they are a favourite place for hibernating animals.
Early emergence is worrying, but rescue charities give hedgehogs their best chance of survival. If you find an injured hedgehog or see one that is out and about during the day, they are not well and need help. Contact any of the amazing hedgehog rescue charities below for expert advice:
- Tiggywinkles Wildlife Hospital https://www.sttiggywinkles.org.uk/
- Suffolk Hedgehog Hospital https://www.suffolkhedgehoghospital.com/
- Holderness Hedgehog Hospital https://holdernesshedgehoghospital.org/
- London Colney Hedgehog Rescue http://londoncolneyhedgehogrescue.weebly.com/
- Wildlife Aid http://www.wildlifeaid.org.uk/
So ahead of Hedgehog Awareness Week, 30th April to 6th May 2023, if you are on hedgehog watch, you’ll know what signs to look out for and what action to take. For more info go to: www.Britishhedgehogs.org.uk/
Mother’s Day flowers
There’s nothing nicer than giving flowers to someone you love, but make sure you’re aware of which flowers and plants can be dangerous to pets. Lilies are especially toxic to cats – if ingested, every part of the lily flower and plant can cause serious health problems and, in some cases, can be fatal. Other common spring plants that can present a danger to pets are azaleas, calla lilies, lily-of-the-valley, and peace lilies. To be on the safe side, keep all flowers out of the way of pets.
If your pet eats something it shouldn’t, contact your vet for advice.
Ticks are a year-round concern, but March sees an emergence of ticks so it’s especially important to check your pet, and yourself, after every walk and to regularly treat your pet with a tick protection product. To read more about ticks, the diseases they carry, and how best to protect your pet, check out our blog below: https://www.cpccares.com/blog/how-to-be-the-best-pet-parent-possible/
Spring lambs – keep your dog on a lead
It’s in every dog’s instinct to chase, even if they are usually obedient and good with other animals. So, part of being a good pet owner is to be in control of your pet’s behaviour.
March and April are peak lambing times in the UK, so it’s vital that you keep your dog on the lead at all times if there is livestock around. It’s an offence to allow a dog to worry sheep. The stress suffered by sheep being worried or chased by dogs, can cause sheep to die, and pregnant ewes to miscarry their lambs. In some cases, chasing ewes and lambs can cause mis-mothering issues, with lambs dying from starvation or hypothermia when they become separated from their mother and fail to find her again. So, next time you’re walking near an area with livestock, please keep your dog on the lead at all times.
Wildlife needs our help
Ever wondered what you could do to help wildlife thrive? Well, The Great British Spring Clean Up, is a fabulous initiative from Keep Britain Tidy, that is running from 17th March to 2nd April 2023. This campaign gives you the chance to make a difference and help to protect the environment and our wildlife’s habitat. Over the last 3 years the RSPCA received 67 calls each week about animals negatively impacted by litter. What better reason to get together with friends or like-minded people, grab a bag and a litter picker, and head out for a lovely walk in the crisp spring air.
To find out how to pledge your time, go to: https://www.rspca.org.uk/getinvolved/events/gbspringclean
Come snow or sunshine–or even a bit of both–wrap up warm and get out this March. Enjoy the fresh air, marvel at the beautiful spring flowers, take off your headphones and listen to the birds singing in the trees. It will clear your head, invigorate you, and most definitely put spring in your step!