For a month famous for April showers, an amazingly low 5 mm was recorded here. Only 7 days produced any measurable rain, with 1.6 mm falling during the 24 hours ending on the morning of 27th April. Increasing evaporation and transpiration at this time of year has left pond levels even lower than they were last month. Maximum daytime temperatures ranged from a very warm 22⁰ C on the 9th to a raw 10⁰ C on the 26th. There were dense fogs on the 2nd, 3rd, and 8th; a strong wind-chill on the 17th and 18th, and sharp overnight frosts on the 19th and 27th, the former of which appears to have wiped out much of our Victoria plum crop for the year, and the latter to have set back our potato crop! 


Wildflowers which bloomed this month were greater stitchwort, around the woodland and field margins on the 6th; cow parsley, yellow archangel, and ground-ivy on the 10th; and herb-Robert on the 12th, meadow buttercup on the 24th, and bugle, another woodland plant, on the 29th. This brings our wildflower tally for this year so far to 20 species.

Two more butterflies brought our species count for the year so far to ten. On the 11g we spotted a green-veined white on lesser celandine in the ride, while on the 15th we found two red admiral butterflies in the middle of the wood. We fared rather better with moth-related sightings, however, with 9 species, bringing our cumulative total to 13 in the first four months of the year. We began on April 2nd with the micro Agonopterix arenella on the outside of a lighted window. This was followed by an early garden carpet moth on the 5th to a lighted porch. Also to light, this time to the outside of our sitting-room window on the 9th, was the streamer moth, not noticed on our site before. April 10th produced a brimstone moth inside a lighted porch lampshade. On April 13th, the first batch of green oak tortrix moth caterpillars appeared, hanging from oak and hornbeam in the wood. After a lull, a pyralid bee moth appeared to light in our bathroom, while the next day we saw about 30 longhorn moths  on and “dancing” above hazel shrubs in the ride. We then found a caterpillar of the brown oak tortrix moth, dangling from a woodland tree by a thread in the wood on the 28th, before spotting a burnet companion on a garden bay tree on the 30th. Other insects include the white tailed bumblebee on gooseberry (2nd April), common carder bee on white deadnettle (3rd), and a queen wasp on the 7th; an alder fly on pond-side rushes, about 60 St Mark’s flies in the woodland ride, and the crane fly on soft rush on the 11th; a very  early downy emerald dragonfly on soft rush (23rd), and a queen hornet flying round the house on the 30th. 

Wild-bird first sightings include a treecreeper on a woodland oak (April 6th), a pair of swallows on the telephone cable (19th), and a cuckoo) in the wood on the 20th. Our reptile shelters produced two more sightings this month. On 2nd April we found our first slow worm of the year, accompanied by hordes of black ants, while on the 12th we spotted our first grass snake.

Finally, our tree and shrub indicators of the development of spring are as follows


  • 1st April - Field maple  
  • 8th April  - Oak  
  • 16th April - Ash 
  • 24th April - Beech

First leafing:

  • 4th April - Elder
  • 6th April - Field maple
  • 13th April - Oak
  • 19th April - Ash
  • 28th April - Beech

Full leafing:  

  1. 7th April - Hawthorn 
  2. 7th April - Silver Birch
  3. 7th April - Hornbeam  
  4. 9th April - Poplar 
  5. 9th April - Horse chestnut 
  6. 15th April - Field Maple
  7. 29th April - Oak

First flowering:

  • 16th April - Hawthorn
  • 18th April - Horse chestnut