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Sunday, 12 April 2015

Sunday 12th April - Carrie’s Nature and History Natter.

Carrie’s Nature and Nature and History Natter - April.

April is an amazing month for wildlife as shrubs and trees burst into life with fresh green foliage, and bird songs grow in volume and diversity. Although our breeding birds don’t usually arrive until May, early morning sleep can be subject to disturbance by a strident blackbird or song thrush, while in the countryside on sunny days the chiff-chaff and blackcap will have been singing for a week or two.

Our overwintering birds visitors such as fieldfares and redwings leave us in April, as do visiting geese, swans and waders, while the summer visitors arriving to replace them include house martins and warblers such as whitethroats, marsh, sedge and willow warblers.  The three types of returning birds that perhaps most signify summer are the nightingale, cuckoo and swallow, while some resident bird species such as blue tits and blackbirds may also have had their first broods.

In our ponds the frog spawn and toad eggs can be found in large quantities, and such species are becoming more dependent on gardens as their usual strongholds of farmland ponds have largely disappeared.

Badger activity is high by now, with sets having been spring cleaned and adults making foraging sorties each night.  Although the young are born from mid-January to mid-March remaining in the breeding chamber for about eight weeks, April will see the young appearing above ground for the first time.

Peacock, orange tip and speckled wood butterflies will be appearing this month, and in southern areas the yellow brimstone will already have been on the wing for several weeks, having over wintered amongst ivy as adults.  Ash trees will be in flower, but their leaves are one of the last to emerge around May.  The male parts consist of a bundle of purple pollen filled clusters while the female parts dangle in the air to pick up wind borne pollen.

In history April was the second month of the initial Roman calendar, until January and February were added in 700BC.  It is thought the name originates from the Latin word “to open” and describes the trees opening at springtime. It could also come from the Greek goddess Aphrodite.. Its historical names are Aprilis – Roman, Eosturmonath (Easter month) - Saxon and Oster-mond – Germanic.

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