Nature Notes March 2018

Total monthly rainfall was 93.5 mm with a maximum daily rainfall  of  14.5 mm on 31st March. Recordable rain fell on 20 days during the month, and there were 22 days with 100% cloud cover.

The lake was full by March 4th, and the woodland ponds reached maximum water-level by the 11th. Permanent pastures were waterlogged at the end of the month. Maximum daytime temperature ranged from 13°C (11th and 26th March) to -1°C (1st March).


The lake and ponds finally thawed completely on the 6th, following the freeze-up from last month and the first two days of March. Storm Emma on the 2nd only produced fresh rather than storm force winds here, so we escaped the really bad weather experienced further north and west.

Dog’s mercury and groundsel were recorded on the 14th, and lesser celandine on the 16th bringing our total wildflower species to 10 for the year so far. Only two insect-pollinators were seen, these being a buff-tailed bumblebee on the 8th, and several bee-flies among celandines on the 26th.

Another poor month for butterflies left us without any sightings for the year so far. The last time this happened by the end of March was 2010. Moths too were hard to find, but we twice spotted a shoulder stripe moth, on a lighted window pane on the 23rd, and on brickwork beneath a wall-lamp on the 26th. So far this year we have seen 5 moth-species.

Bird sightings on the 8th and 9th March brought our total to 42 species. A young swan, the first sighting of this species since January 21st 2007, arrived on the 8th where it posed regally on our lake for almost two days. On the 9th, about 100 fieldfares, mixed with maybe half that number of redwings, settled on our woodland tree-tops, and also on a neighbouring field for most of the morning.

March 15th saw the first toads spawning in the shallows of the lake, to be joined by several common frogs four days later (March 19th). The only other creatures we recorded during the month were 4 woodmice beneath one of our reptile shelters on March 6th, when the temperature was 11°C.

During the month there was some notably faltering progress on the development of trees and shrubs.  Buds burst on two elder trees on the 9th, and on hazel bushes two days later (11th). Hawthorn followed on the 22nd, dog rose and hornbeam (24th), poplar (26th) and wild cherry (28th).

Of all these, elder (on the13th) is the only one to reach first-leafing stage.