May

Chadkirk on first May morning 2013

The first day of May.
March came in like a lion and went out…like…a polar bear? Arctic adjectives continued to be attached to descriptions of the weather here for the early part of April as well. Today, some welcome sunshine and a little warmth. With the weather pulsing between frosts and freezing winds only a few weeks ago, how might the wildlife of Chadkirk have been affected?

Spring flowers, Chadkirk Walled Garden

In and around the walled Garden, flowers are later to bloom. Maybe 3 or 4 weeks later than last year?

In the walled garden, a peacock butterfly. Photo: Artemisia

In the walled garden, a peacock butterfly.
Photo: Artemisia

As keen gardeners note these changes, animal watchers see other signs. Birds are nesting. Amphibians make their way to the ponds to spawn. In the first days of May, frogs will have already laid their spawn. Toads visit later. Perhaps they may be emerging from the woods and fields to breed this week.

In previous years, John, the resident Countryside Officer, has rescued many of the toads crossing the road en route to the ponds. He tells of collecting buckets full over a period of 10 days. His services have not been required in the spring of 2012 or 2013. What does this suggest? That the pattern of weather for each of those springs had an adverse effect on Toad populations in the area? Possibly. Last year March was warm and dry.Too dry for toads maybe? This year all those frosty nights and Siberian winds…

Later in the year, if there’s an opportunity to go pond dipping with the Friends of Chadkirk and friends from CAN, we will be curious to see how the populations of these amphibians compare with previous years.

Today there were plenty of butterflies on the wing. And plump queen bees foraging. The woods were busy with birdsong: chiff-chaffs, blackcaps, blue tits, great tits, jackdaws.

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