The days are noticeably longer, the sun has been shining and there’s even been a bit of warmth around that has got us considering unzipping our winter coats. Spring is just around the corner!
At Panshanger Park the skylarks are starting to serenade us from high above Forty Acres on the Western side of Panshanger. They hover up to 300m above their grassland habitat to sing their beautiful song to establish their territory. Watch out for them suddenly descending back down after their singing session which can last up to an hour! Skylarks nest on the ground which is why it is important to have some areas, such as Forty Acres, fenced off from walkers and dogs as their fragile nests are hard to spot and can be accidentally disturbed.
Other birds likely to be to be seen and heard over the next month are the summer migrants. Currently making their way from Africa to the UK for the breeding season will be chiff-chaffs, one of the quintessential sounds of warmer weather in our woodlands, and willow warblers. These two birds look very similar, both small and brown. The easiest way to distinguish them apart are their songs. Chiff chaffs are as their name, ‘chiff chaff chiff chaff’, whereas the willow warbler has a sweet descending repeated phrase.
Looking across to Garden Wood down from the site of the house there’s currently a cheerful blanket of yellow amongst the trees created by the first daffodils soaking up the warmth on the Southern facing slope. Daffodils are the common name for the genus Narcissus, of which there are at least 25 species and up to 13,000 hybrids! Daffodils were actually brought over to the UK by the Romans.
Spring daffodils soaking up the sunshine in Panshanger ©Michael Charlton
If you’d like to explore Panshanger and learn a bit more about the wildlife and habitats at the park, then why not come along to one of our Spring events. There are Spring themed drop-in sessions with activities for children as well as spotter sheets to take around the park. And for those curious as to what wildlife comes out as dusk falls then come along to one of our family friendly ‘Creatures of the night’ walks. There’ll be opportunity to put your senses to the test where you can learn how nocturnal animals have adapted to their night time lives. There are also regular walks throughout the year about different aspects of the park. Check out our events page for more information.
Jo Whitaker is the Panshanger Park People and Wildlife Officer. She works for Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust and her role is funded by Tarmac.
Main picture: Skylark’s are ground nesting birds but sing high above their habitat ©Amy Lewis