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Monday, March 9, 2015

Carrie's March History and Nature Natter.

Carrie's March History and Nature Natter.

The name March comes from Mars, the Roman god of war, as this was the time when campaigning began again after the winter.  It was also the start of spring and the New Year, with Britain using 25th March as the beginning of the New Year until 1752.  Its historical names are Martius (Roman), Hrethmonath (Saxon) and Lenze-mond – Springtime month (Germanic).

In nature, this month is famous for mad-March hares, which are actually the females resisting the optimistic advances of amorous males. With short arable crops, they can often be seen feeding and this is an excellent time of year to spot these beautiful and charismatic native animals.

The earliest of our summer bird migrants start to arrive, with the wheatear among the first, and also the chiff-chaff with its repetitive and distinctive song.  As more birds arrive the dawn chorus will begin to swell, although resident birds such as song thrushes, blackbirds, greenfinches, great tits and robins are already in full song to proclaim their territories to all comers. Towards the month end you may be lucky enough to see a swallow swooping over the fields, but beware the old saying of “one swallow does not a summer make” as the weather can easily turn cold again.

Our woodland plants are starting to flower, such as wood anemone, town hall clock and the sweet violet with it small purple flowers. You may also find the extravagant looking stinking hellebore, with its smelly green and red flowers, while a sure sign of spring are the furry looking catkins of the pussy willow (or goat willow), found in damp areas.

Elsewhere the frogs are mating vigorously having risen from the bottom of the ponds where they have spent the winter.  As the amorous males cling to the females in large numbers, it is surprising they survive at all, as they are all trying to ensure the eggs laid are fertilised. The first butterfly of the year to emerge is the beautiful lemon yellow male and greenish white female brimstone. The adults are important pollinators of the yellow primroses, whereas its caterpillars feed only on buckthorn.  Bumblebees are also starting to emerge, buzzing round on the warmer days, while ladybirds start to appear from their communal hibernation nooks and crannies -we have already seen several of these in our own garden.

Many thanks Carrie...!

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