Snowdrops highlight the end of winter

PUBLISHED: 13:34 02 March 2007 | UPDATED: 22:37 28 May 2010

One of the highlights of late winter is the carpets of snowdrops that appear on verges, under hedges and in woods and there is a fine showing around at the moment. You may even be lucky enough to have them growing in your garden. I was lucky enough to ta

One of the highlights of late winter is the carpets of snowdrops that appear on verges, under hedges and in woods and there is a fine showing around at the moment.

You may even be lucky enough to have them growing in your garden.

I was lucky enough to take a birdwatching trip to Venezuela in mid-February and my return was significantly brightened by the emergence of this delicate-looking (but actually very hardy) little flower in many parts of the countryside, as well as in the towns and villages.

It is very easy to think that winter has passed and in many ways, it has been something of a non-event.

A walk through the village this morning revealed cock house sparrows perched proudly atop the guttering, proclaiming their territories and desire to mate with their simple song.

A group of four blackbirds provided an entertaining tussle too as they cascaded all the way down to the ground through a large conifer, completely engrossed in a playful courtship tussle with the males uttering a barely audible version of their song as they went.

The first migrant birds have returned to the UK already with a sand martin in Gloucestershire on February 22 and an osprey in Wales the next day.

The former should have had no trouble finding insect food as there has been plenty around for quite a while now, and with the latter a fish-eating bird of prey, it should have had no problem finding sustenance to help it on its way (to Scotland perhaps or further beyond to the forested lakes of Scandinavia).

Great news to learn that my local otters have bred successfully and the female is now appearing regularly in the usual lake with two well-grown cubs.

They will learn the finer points of fishing and their aquatic lifestyle from her, but will also allow plenty of time for play too with lots of rolling and tumbling play fights in the water!

From now through to late spring is a good time to look out for otters as more and more females emerge from their underground sojourns, complete with their young.

With more individuals around, and in family parties, the chances of seeing one is significantly increased, so keep an eye out on the rivers, drains and lakes near you.


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