March 1st

IMG_8549March got underway in typical style. The day was fresh and blustery, cold in the wind, but warm in the sun. Though the afternoon was dotted with showers and one extended period of rain, the quality of light was fantastic throughout, from the way it reflected from spring flowers – crocuses, snowdrops, daffodils, celandine – to the brief golden period at about half past five when every droplet-laden tree sparkled like a Christmas ornament.

This is an exciting time of year for a naturalist, filled near equally with anticipation and trepidation. Anticipation for the many delights of spring, chief amongst them the real return of wildflowers and insects from their winter sleep. Trepidation at the thought of not quite keeping up, as usual, of seeing lovingly hatched plans to ‘crack’ a particular group of species this year fall by the wayside, even before anybody has so much as cracked the first Easter egg of the season.

Lesser celandine. Spring is on the way.

Lesser celandine. Spring is on the way.

I always intend to have a go at bees* in early spring, since fewer species are flying and they’re amongst the first ‘big’ insects to wake up. Yet after three years of trying, bees are still a weakness of mine. I’ll be keeping an ear out for their buzzing and trying to make a concerted effort this year! Otherwise I’ll simply enjoy finding whatever I find.

In particular, I’ll be marveling at the variety of methods species employ to make it through the winter. Hibernating adults, developing young, pupae, larvae, eggs, seeds. All are incredible in their own way, perhaps especially the notion of an entire population’s survival depending on the success of fragile eggs – a species gambling its survival on a small coded message to the future and a packet of protein.

*Bumblebees are not too difficult as there aren’t so many of them, though there are certainly some tricky ID challenges within the group. The 200+ species of solitary bee are another matter….

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A rather attractive fern called wall rue.

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