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March

There's an old saying that 'March comes in like a lion but goes out like a lamb'.

We've definitely experienced the lion in some parts of the country, so let's hope the rest of that saying comes about, and sooner rather than later!

Despite a wet and windy start to the month, there's no denying that it's getting warmer and spring is on the way.

Check out five things to discover in a forest near you this month.

1. Snowdrops in full flower

These hardy little flowers are no more than 15cm tall, and you may have even spotted them in the winter months. In fact, they’re so resilient they can even grow in frozen soil!

They like shady forests and damp soil, so spot them in deciduous woodland and near water, such as the banks for streams and ditches.

Given the time of year that they flower, they’re not reliant on insects to reproduce. However, they do offer a welcome meal to the early risers in the arthropod world, ladybirds especially.

2. Great tits get singing

The UK’s largest tit is a colourful bird and one of the first to start chirping in the spring. It’s often considered a sign that warmer days are on the way, and trust us, a walk through the woods on a sunny March day with bird song in the air is enough to get us excited for summer.

Starting early in the morning, the great tit’s song has been likened to a squeaky bike pump…which doesn’t do it justice by a long way. The reason it sings? It’s the male bird’s way of attracting a mate.

3. Hungry Hedgehogs

Whilst we’re all enjoying the slightly warmer days and extra bit of strength to the sun, most of us are know that winter will likely have at least one more sting in its tail.

That’s bad news for hedgehogs! Pleasant spells can tempt them out of hibernation, having lost a third of their body weight since December. They’re in no shape for a sudden cold snap. Give the little critters a hand by putting out some dog or cat food in the garden, alongside a drink of water.

Hedgehog in the forest

4. Toads are on the move

If you’ve ever watched a David Attenborough documentary on the telly, you’ll have seen salmon returning to ancestral breeding grounds to spawn. Did you know that the common toad exhibits similar behaviour?

As the temperate rises, they’ll emerge from their over-winter hideaway, then start to migrate back to their breed ponds. Unlike frogs, it’s the only time that adult toads enter the water.

The best time to spot them is early evening on a mild day, around 7-8 degrees centigrade.

5. The unmistakable smell of wild garlic

Another hardy plant that’s made a start in winter lets us know that spring is on the way. Discover wild garlic in deciduous forests, mostly in the southern parts of the country. It’s wonderfully fragrant (depending upon your opinion of garlic), so you’ll be discovering its nostrils first!

Later in spring, it will display distinctive white, star-like flowers, but until then, be careful if your foraging. Wild garlic is easily confused with lily-of-the-valley, which is poisonous. Make sure to do your research!

Once you’ve collected the right plant, it can be eaten cooked or raw. We hear wild garlic pesto is a bit of a winner. Maybe we’ll give it a go this year!

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