Nature Notes: Hope Springs

Richmond and Twickenham Times: Nature Notes: Hope Springs Nature Notes: Hope Springs

I had been dreaming of a white Christmas, not a wet one! However, the shortest day is behind us and almost unnoticed, each day will become lighter by about two minutes.

I liken the months of the year to the face of a clock with the minute hand lumbering slowly upwards through November to reach its zenith in December. Then hopefully, that minute hand will slide rapidly downwards towards spring.

Of course, it doesn't work like that but its what I like to imagine. It is mainly increasing daylight rather than temperature that triggers wildlife into renewed springlike action. Already, if we look and listen, signs of spring are evident.

Daffodil and snowdrop shoots peep above the cold wet soil and silvery, silken pussy willow buds are plumping up. Leaves have fluttered earthwards to reveal dark tightly furled buds ready on twigs. My local blackbird (pictured) is tentatively testing his tonsils with muted notes and with luck,we may hear mistle and song thrushes almost in full voice.

Rooks and crows fuss around last year's nests, blackbirds bicker over territorial rights and parakeets have even now chosen their tree nesting holes thus depriving native species access.

Squirrels, early breeders, chase one another through trees. Foxes bark at night as their mating season reaches a climax and badgers will shortly give birth.

Queen bumblebees, risking all, buzz around garden centres or home in on mahonia searching for a nectar boost to see them through the cold months.

Winter has a long way to go but, spring is waiting in the wings even now.

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