Chilterns Countryside spring spotter

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Spring has come early this year to the  Chilterns and trees that were bare just two or three weeks ago are now adorned in a coat of leaves and in some cases such as wild cherry, horse chestnut and blackthorn, colourful blossom. Not all trees have their leaves on display yet, oak and ash being a bit later out of the blocks than other species. You may have heard the old saying 'Ash before the Oak...' as a potential guide to weather predictions.

In between the showers and when the sun shines, some of our first butterflies have emerged in all their glory. Probably the most commonly sighted is the brimstone. This striking yellow butterfly in it's pale (female) or more vivid (male) livery, is often the first butterfly sighted in the season and is a sure sign that winter is behind us. Other to look out for are the orange Tip, comma, Small tortoiseshell, peacock and speckled wood.

Out on the grasslands of some of our sites, cowslips have put on a tremendous display of yellow to cover some slopes. Violets, lords-and-ladies, dandelions, herb-Robert, forget-me-nots, garlic mustard and cow parsley are all to be found putting colour into the lush green of the grasses.

In the woodland

In some of the woodlands, bluebells are looking stunning, giving one of the most spectacular sights ever to be seen in the British countryside when the number of plants achieve high density. Amongst them you may see wood anemone, lesser celandines and wood spurge.

Many birds are nesting now and some have already produced youngsters. Those seen already include blackbird, robin and ducklings, but it won't be long before many other baby birds of all species appear. One very spectacular bird that most people will be familiar with, the cock pheasant, is in all its splendour at the moment. Though not a native (this gamebird was introduced from Asia), it has been a resident in this country remarkably since the 16th century.  The kite, the bird most synonymous with the Chilterns, once its numbers increased enough in the mid 1990s for it to become the familiar sight it is today, is also nesting at the moment.  Though, it will take nearly three months from the time the egg is laid to the young kite leaving the nest.