Sights and sounds of spring at Castle Coole

Spring has arrived with a carpet of wood anemones © National Trust

Spring has arrived with a carpet of wood anemones

Spring is one of the best times to visit the woodlands at Castle Coole. As the days lengthen and winter starts to fade the woodlands come alive in fresh bursts of colour and the cacophony of song birds.

Wildflowers: At this time of year the ground beneath the oaks is a carpet of wildflowers and herbs, all competing for light before the leaves in the canopy thicken up. Snowdrops are first, quickly followed by primroses, wood anemones, early purple orchids and a little later bluebells.

Song birds: The woods are filled with bird song at the beginning of the breeding season as the males are claiming their territories. Resident robins, blackbirds, thrushes and wrens are joined by migrant warblers such as chiffchaffs, blackcaps and willow warblers. After the cuckoo the chiffchaff is perhaps the most identifiable as its song is a repetition of its name.

Butterflies: Butterflies will start to appear and spring caterpillars are a vital food source for breeding birds such as the blue tit, which time their nesting season to coincide with the caterpillar glut.

Birds: Swallows, house martins and swifts return in mid spring after spending the winter in warmer climes. Swifts spend most of their lives in the air landing only to breed. On fine days they circle high up in the air but at dusk they swoop around roof tops in high speed aerial chases giving high, screaming calls.

Bats: Bats and they return to their maternity roots in late spring. While we generally need bat detectors to hear bats, some young people can hear their high pitched calls. Some of the smaller bats such as pipistrilles flap their wings very rapidly and the distinctive whirring sound produced, lead to them being called the ‘flittermouse’.

It’s time to get outdoors and experience all that spring has to offer at Castle Coole, it really is a special time of year.