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April

So far this year, we've celebrated the wildlife that defies winter and gets on with flourishing despite the cold.

Now that April is here, it's as though the rest of the forest was inspired by rebellious winter kick-starters.

Backdrops of brown are starting to turn green, spring perennials are in full flower, and animal life is more active than for months.

Read on to discover five exciting things to watch out for in the forest this month.

1. Baby Rabbits Venture Above Ground

It’s springtime, and Easter is on the way, so it’s all about new life this month, and it’s only fitting that we start with bunnies (not their official name).

Young rabbits are called kits, and they spend the first month of their lives holed up underground in their burrows.

At two weeks old, they start eating vegetation, and above ground, you may spot their parents, frantically knowing grass and plants to bring back for their young.

Towards the end of the April the first kits of the season will poke the heads above ground to feed with their mother. The best time to spot them is at dawn and dusk.

2. Young Badgers Also Make an Appearance

Did you know badgers are omnivores? They eat both fruit and nuts and insects, earthworms, slugs, snails, and even small mammals.

Like most of nature, their food becomes scarce in winter, so female badgers give birth in late winter to maximise food supplies and fatten up for the winter.

That means the cubs are ready to take their first step above ground in April and start putting on weight throughout the remainder of the year, ready for their first full winter.

The best way to spot badgers is to locate their sett in the daytime, often in woodland or at the edge of a field. These nocturnal creatures have poor eyesight but a great sense of smell. When your return before dusk, remain downwind and position yourself against a tree to hide your silhouette.

Stay as still as possible and prepare to be patient. You’ll be in for a wait but rewarded with a glimpse of these special woodland animals.

3. Bluebells are Carpeting the Forest

One of the UK’s most recognisable wildflowers, bluebells area protected by law and can be found in open fields as well as carpeting deciduous woodland.

Did you know that they’re perennial, meaning that the same plant flowers year after year? It takes around 6 or 7 years for a bluebell colony to establish itself, and there are two varieties in the UK. The native common bluebell and the Spanish bluebell.

Common Briitsh bluebells in flower

Common (British) bluebell

Identified by deeper purple colour, thin tubular flowers just along one side of the stem.

Spanish bluebell in flower

Spanish blueblell

Identified by paler colour, some times pink or white, wider flowers on multiple sides of the stem.

4. Birds are Nesting on Go Ape Courses

We’re on a mission to create forest adventures. Starting 20 years ago with our first tree top course in Thetford Forest, we’ve now spread our way across the UK and incidentally provided brilliant infrastructure for nesting birds.

Our crossing signs are a favourite of treecreepers, providing the perfect protection for their vulnerable chicks.

We’ve also seen a variety of tits using skateboard zip steps and Tarzan Swing dividers for nesting in, plus chaffinches and blackbirds making their home amongst the support cables on our Nets Adventure.

5. Painted Lady Butterflies Return

The sight of butterflies dancing through the forest air immediately evokes the excitement of the warmer months ahead. So far, brimstone and red admirals will be amongst the most common, as they overwinter as adults.

Not to detract from our year-round residents but keep an eye out for painted lady butterflies with their distinctive tortoiseshell wings in orange, tipped with black and dotted white. These fascinating little insects are migratory and will arrive this month, having travelled all the way from North Africa and Arabia.

discover more British Wildlife in the Go Ape nature zone

Nature Zone