The beginning of March saw me still snowed in to the small valley in South Devon where I had been having a brief holiday, which turned into an extended stay! It was just about the worst weather I had seen for a long time but the good news was that the garden surrounding the cottage where I was staying was full of birds feeding, thanks to a supply of bird food there, and several marsh tits amongst the commoner species were a delight to see. The small stream running through the property continued to give me the opportunity to see the resident dipper and as weather improved slightly primroses and celandines in flower emerged from under the melting snow.
Even though the snow began to melt in Devon, my own home was still completely inaccessible with snow drifts filling the small country lanes round about, so I was stuck in the south for a further week. On my eventual return I found that huge numbers of goldfinches and siskins were still feeding avidly on the bird feeders and a few fieldfares had returned and were busy eating the remaining few apples under the orchard trees.
As we moved into the second week of the month the weather in Shropshire warmed up slightly and a second batch of frogspawn appeared in the smaller of my wildlife ponds. Siskins, the loveliest of the finches in my opinion, were continuing to feed around the garden in huge numbers and several of the males were singing beautifully, along with a local song thrush. By the time we reached the middle of the month, although the weather was still very cold, it was at least bright and sunny and frogs could be heard croaking in both garden ponds as spawning continued which, together with the bird song, made the garden seem quite noisy. Towards the end of the second week of the month a brambling, another lovely finch we see when the weather is cold, was feeding along with the chaffinches on the ground under the bird feeders and as the freezing weather continued several more bramblings appeared in the garden including one male approaching breeding plumage.
The weather warmed a little more as we moved through March although at times it was very windy here plus a more snow fell. Finches continued to dominate the feeders and several lesser redpolls joined the goldfinches and siskins, mainly feeding on nyger seed. As the last week of the month arrived there was bright but cold sunshine and an unusual bird for this garden – a house sparrow – appeared around the feeders plus several greenfinches, also quite unusual birds here, were visiting daily. As usual the concentration of small birds in the garden meant that a sparrowhawk flew through from time to time and one of the local buzzards took to hanging around lazily on our hedge – doing nothing in particular. No mammals, other than the inevitable grey squirrels, were seen all month.
By the end of March the weather was certainly a little warmer and spring-like and our primroses were flowering beautifully in several places around the garden. Once established this lovely spring wildflower spreads very quickly here giving the appearance of spring, even if the temperatures and the snow at the end of the month made it feel more like winter! Hopefully April will bring warmer weather and a few spring migrants.