Spring has sprung in Forres

Weathermen and astronomers will always argue that spring starts either on the 1 March or later in the month.

For me, it starts when I see that wonderful carpet of crocuses appear in Grant Park. And in fact, it’s not just in the town where you can witness this spectacle. These beautiful harbingers of spring are literally springing up everywhere.

Now that spring has finally sprung, its a good time throw open your windows and doors or get outside and enjoy the fresh air.

There has never been a better time to visit Scotland. The days start to get longer and warmer, the nights lighter which can be a major boost to our health and wellbeing. There is less chance of frosts but don’t ‘cast your cloots‘ just yet.  Its definitely a time to start planning your adventure, whether it be walking in the countryside, visiting places of interest or learning about the local area.

Although Moray has plenty of towns and villages, it’s still very much a rural area and there is always something rewarding about this time of year as flora and fauna come out of winter and put on their best shows.

Flowers start to bloom and leaves start to bud. We see more birds and animals.

Our feathered friends start to build nests. Butterflies, bees and ladybirds start to appear and animals start to bring up their families. Here’s a few examples of things you can look out for.

Frogs – nature in slow motion

One of my fondest memories of childhood is the miracle that is frogspawn. Conditions are just right and It’s a perfect time for frogs and toads as they spawn in ponds. Look out for clusters of jelly that swell and float to the surface. It takes roughly three to four weeks for frogspawn to hatch into tadpoles. Then around 14 weeks to become a frog. Toad tadpoles take a little longer, and their spawn looks more like a string of pearls draped over pond weed. It’s a fun activity to watch, and a great educational tool. Few miracles of nature are so easy to watch in slow motion.

Bee happy

As the warmth from the sun starts to rise, bees start to appear. Early spring flowers provide nectar to fuel their search for a nesting place. March is an important time for bees as this is the month colonies can die of starvation if they were not adequately supplied in the autumn. 

Garden birds – don’t stop feeding them

Garden birds need most support in the winter when food is harder to come, and so it’s easy to leave them to fend for themselves in spring. Food shortages can happen at any time of year, if you continue feeding through spring and summer, garden birds will have a better chance of surviving.

However, as spring comes round, be careful what you feed them. Avoid peanuts, bread and fat as these can be harmful if adult birds feed them to their chicks. Home-made fat balls can go rancid and soft. Stick to seeds, and use the RSPB site below as a guide.

Feeders are a great way to attract birds for photographing them, and if you’re trying to get a more natural picture, put them near natural perches where the birds will land for a quick risk assessment before hopping onto your feeder.

See https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/advice/how-you-can-help-birds/feeding-birds/when-to-feed-garden-birds/ external link

Ospreys – king of the skies

Ospreys are large birds of prey and return each spring from Africa to breed. Each year they return to the same nest made of sticks, usually in the tops of tall trees or on top of power poles.

Male Ospreys arrive first to set up territory for breeding, usually close to bodies of water where they have a supply of fish. The male then waits for a female to arrive and builds a home for their chicks to hatch.

The female usually lays her eggs around late April. Nearby, in the Cairngorms National Park is one of the most famous places in Scotland to see them.  Between April until end of August you can view Ospreys at the world famous nest at Loch Garten external link (30 miles). Telescopes are provided to get closer in on the birds who have been named by the centre, and ‘nestcams’ allow you to get a ‘birds-eye’ view!

Closer to home Findhorn and Spey Bay are also good spots to see and photograph them. They can often be seen flying around the bay during the summer months. 

Lambing season

Not so wild, but much more easy to spot are the hundreds of lambs being born at this time of year. Cuddly and cute with high-pitched bleats, they can be seen in fields as you drive, walk or cycle through the Moray countryside. Watch out for them doing a characteristic leap in the air.

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