Spring is almost upon us, the days are getting lighter and longer and this optimism is being felt by the wildlife too!
At Panshanger Park the trees are now tantalisingly close to bursting forth with their vibrant green leaves and birds are becoming much more active in readiness for the breeding season.
This means that this time of year is a good opportunity to try a bit of woodland bird spotting. Whilst the leaves are still busy unfurling, take a moment to look up at the canopy. The barer branches before the leaves appear allows clearer views of the canopy and spotting movement is much easier. You may see great tits and long-tailed tits flitting about high up, or perhaps treecreepers climbing up, or nuthatches progressing down the tree trunks.
Listening to bird song is equally rewarding at this time of year. Whilst the peak of the singing crescendo is still a little way off, the long absence of most songs over winter make the first few trills that we hear even sweeter. Take a moment to pick out the different songs. You may also hear some birds, such as blackbirds, singing quietly to themselves lower down in the vegetation, this may be their rehearsal to ensure they’re pitch-perfect before they take to the treetops and sing to defend their territory and attract a mate.
And it’s not just our native birds that are getting ready for Spring. Many are currently on migration heading for their summer breeding grounds in the UK, including Panshanger.
Amongst those close to the end of their long journey from Africa are Little Ringed Plovers. These diminutive, but beautifully featured birds, are rare summer visitors to Hertfordshire which nest on man-made habitats such as old gravel pits. The park’s quarrying past, and now restored habitats of managed bare ground and sparse vegetation, means that Panshanger provides an appealing nesting ground for these birds.
Other birds such as warblers are also on their way to Hertfordshire. These birds are attracted to the wetland areas around Panshanger because they weave their nests into the reeds and feed on the insects attracted to the damp conditions.
Enjoying the ambience outside is a great way to herald the warmer and brighter Spring weather. If you are able to visit Panshanger then please remember to adhere to local government restrictions, keep to the paths and keep dogs on leads where requested. Observing our nesting summer visitors from afar is very enjoyable but disturbance from visitors and dogs could have dire consequences for their nests and young. Please protect these species by keeping your distance so they, and the next generation, can be welcomed back next Spring!
If you are interested in finding out more about birds in the Hertfordshire area, please visit the Herts Bird Club website – https://www.hnhs.org/herts-bird-club/home