The weather in South Shropshire was very damp and cool at the beginning of the first week of March and, as expected, there were lots of birds around the garden especially siskins, and two lesser redpolls were frequently in the garden using the feeders. On the third of the month several bramblings appeared including one gorgeous male – they were also feeding on the ground under the feeders. The redpolls were very bold and feisty and were soon feeding on the small tray outside my back door, fighting off all competition! The local linnet flock was still with us every day and on the 3rd of the month two song thrushes were seen in the long garden. The weather continued to be dry and overcast until the end of the week and a single jay visited the garden daily. There were still a few rabbits around the garden, which doesn’t bode well for my vegetables but no other mammals were seen this week.
In the second week of the month the weather continued to be variable and was sometimes very windy with occasional torrential rain! Between the storms we had a little calmer sunnier weather from time to time. There were still lots of birds around the garden including the usual finches – up to twelves siskins were counted most days – and a single red legged partridge was seen and heard calling, but there was no sign of the female sparrowhawk this week and very few mammals were seen apart from the rabbits. However a single bank vole was seen in the garden from time to time, picking up sunflower hearts from under the feeders and a weasel was also seen. The local mallard pair seemed to no longer be using our pond but were seen on the pond in the field next door – a much more suitable, less disturbed place for them to breed. Two jays started to forage for buried acorns in the garden every day and a buzzard was a regular visitor, often sitting in the orchard trees or on the long hedge. A male moorhen appeared on the pond on the 13th and I am assuming he is the bird that bred on our pond last year – I shall wait to see if his mate appears! Bird numbers began to drop but tits and thrushes were singing well around the garden. There was no sign of the frogspawn hatching.
During the third week of March the weather continued to improve and it was more spring like, but it was still very windy in spite of the sunshine. The single bank vole was still with us and a weasel was seen hunting around the house and big meadow. The local song thrush was now singing beautifully from several places around the garden, including from our beech tree and from the tall trees in the copse. A single large frog was found in one of the borders and was relocated to a safer spot and we began to see a few great crested newts in the big pond. Siskin numbers slowly dwindled but the marsh tit was still seen daily, carrying off sunflower hearts to a hiding place in the hedge! A pied wagtail visited the garden on the 19th and spent some time on the roof of the house and feeding in the big meadow.
The last week of the month saw the single, now very smart looking marsh tit feeding daily and a blackbird was singing every morning from the copse and other areas in the garden. The song thrush also continued to sing from the field maple at the far end of the garden, creating a beautiful spring-like atmosphere whenever I opened the back door! There were still several siskins feeding in the garden every day, and at least one male was often singing from the copse. Three wood mice were caught in a live trap in my office cupboard having chewed up most things in there and in another cupboard they had eaten a whole packet of herb tea bags! They were relocated to the garden but I expect to see them inside again sometime. The local linnet flock was still around and they were sometimes alighting on our hedge or in the large ash tree in the garden. Several blue tits and great tits were very active around our bird boxes and on the 28th a large number of toads were seen in the small field next door which has a natural pond, and were obviously spawning there. The local kites soared over the garden every day and several buzzards were hunting for worms in the field next door. On the 29th of the month a chiffchaff was heard singing from the little woodland at the end of the garden plus that evening the first bat of the spring – a pipistrelle – flew from their roost in the house roof. The chiffchaff continued to sing every day and on the last day of the month several butterflies appeared in the garden – a peacock, a speckled wood and two brimstones. Spring had really arrived.