Looking forward to spring at Ashridge
The lengthening days tell us that spring is on the way on the Ashridge Estate. The birds are becoming more vocal and the first buds are appearing on the trees.
Spring is a wonderful time of year to explore Ashridge's 5000 acres, the woods are bursting back to life after a long cold winter, unveiling fresh new shoots and promising new flowers.
We can look forward to lighter evenings and more time to walk in our favourite places, looking at things with a fresh eye. Maybe it's time to try a different route or walk the hills instead of woodland. Wherever you choose will change quickly as the season moves on and the days get warmer.
There is so much to discover at Ashridge but it is easy to miss the first stirrings of spring unless you are really looking for them.
As you walk one of your favourite routes, just take a minute to see if there are any tiny shoots showing amongst the winter debris on the edges of the paths.
We don't have banks of snowdrops here but there are a few small patches all over the estate. There are also lots of lesser celandine amongst the trees. You might also spot wood sorrel, wood anemone and yellow archangel on your journey.
Soon there will be wild garlic, bluebells and, if you venture onto the Ivinghoe Hills, Pasque flowers.
You will hear the birds before you see them as they get into their stride before the dawn chorus really starts. They will soon be nest-building so you might see them carrying small twigs as they fly overhead.
On the move
At this time of year it is easier to spot deer because the trees are still bare and the undergrowth has died back. They are timid creatures so will not come close of their own accord but if you walk quietly, you may well surprise them.
You might decide to do a dawn walk on the estate, that time of day is also good for spotting wildlife. Most wild animals will move more freely when they know that the majority of humans are still abed.