Wildlife this month - March
March is renowned for ‘mad March hares’.
Look out for the seasonal antics of the brown hares as they ‘box’. It used to be assumed that this boxing involved males fighting for social dominance but more recent research has shown it is just as likely to involve the females.
Brown hare numbers are estimated to have fallen in Britain by up to 80% in the last 100 years but this is one of the best times of year to view these normally shy animals.
Hare numbers across the WildCare farms are increasing in response to improved habitat and considered farm practices, demonstraiting that the national trend of decline can be reversed.
The first of the summer migrant birds will be starting to arrive in March, as long as the weather is favourable.
Watch out for the attractive wheatear and listen for the distinctive call of the chiffchaff.
Primroses, lesser celandines, wood anemones and sweet violets should all be in flower this month. In suitable woodland areas, such as those found in Herefordshire and Gloucestershire, the ‘true’ wild daffodils should be beginning to flower – a seasonal treat indeed. In old established woodlands stinking hellebore, dog’s mercury and ramsons (wild garlic) can be found.
In the hedgerows and woodland edges the first of the wild shrubs to flower is usually the blackthorn, which can begin its display in March. In a good season it seems to cover the hedgerows in white foam as its profuse flowers open wide. The blossom will be followed later by purple fruits (sloes).
Skylarks & lapwings:
On arable farmland the skylarks will now begin to declare their territories in earnest, singing as they rise high into the air. Lapwings (also known as peewits or green plovers) will be setting up territories on arable farmland and other suitable ground during March. Their tumbling displays can be spectacular to watch.
March is the month when the dawn chorus really gets going. For those willing and able to get into woodlands early in the morning, it can be a magical experience listening to all the bird species declaring their territories with song.