Spring wildlife at West Runton

Basking adder

Spring is a great time to walk the woodland and heath and to spot a wide variety of wildlife.

The arrival of spring signals the milder weather and the beginning of the growing season in the woods and heathland. As the soil warms the trees start to bud and soon you won’t be able to see deep into the woods because the lush green foliage will block the view.

As the days grow the longer the birdsong grows in volume and the dawn chorus is very evident especially in the beech wood alongside the main drive beyond the caravan site. When the sun is shining it sparkles through the new lime green leaves of the beech. 
From early spring, bees start to come out of hibernation, with queens flying off to scout for homes.

Butterflies emerge from their chrysalises and the hedgerows burst into bloom with blackthorn flowers on bare branches and catkins providing important early nectar for insects.

In March you are likely to see the pioneering individuals peacock, brimstone, small tortoiseshell and red admiral often found feeling on catkins and dandelion. In April the whites appear large white (cabbage), small white and green veined white, orange tip, speckled wood, comma, small tortoise shell and holly blue. In May common blue and the fritillaries appear. Later in the day a myriad of moths can be spotted notably the barred chestnut and bee hawk moth.

Brimstone butterfly with its leaf shaped wings
Brimstone butterfly with its leaf shaped wings
Brimstone butterfly with its leaf shaped wings


There is a sense of renewal and change at this time of year. Birds are migrating with redwings and fieldfares heading back to Siberia and warblers, chiff chaffs, house martins, swallows and black caps newly arrived from Europe and North Africa. The birds are very much in evidence flitting about building nests and bringing the quiet woods and heath to life. Buzzards and sparrowhawks can often be seen soaring above the high ground.

Buzzard on the look out for prey
Buzzard perched in a tree
Buzzard on the look out for prey

Occasionally more exotic birds of prey can be seen migrating such as ospreys and red kites

Spring is a prime time for spotting birds as the trees are not yet fully in leaf. The woodland is the best place to hear birdsong with males advertising their territories and attracting a mate with their colourful plumage or exotic flight routines. In the limited space of a woodland attracting a mate is all about the song. One of the most usual sounds is the curious churring call at dusk of the nightjar that arrives in spring.
In the woodland, insects fly over a stunning carpet weave of lesser celandine, wood anemones, violets and bluebells - all lovers of dappled light. They race to bloom and set seed before the canopy closes over.
On the heath you may spot adders, emerged from hibernation, basking in the sun. Do not attempt to handle them.  Slow worms and lizards will also seek out sunny spots to warm themselves.

A slow worm. Despite appearances it's a lizard, not a snake.
Looks like a snake bit it is a low worm.
A slow worm. Despite appearances it's a lizard, not a snake.

Muntjac, roe and red deer are easier to see, at this time, as the foliage is not so impenetrable.

A muntjac deer on the hunt for food
A muntjac deer on the hunt for food
A muntjac deer on the hunt for food