Spring has sprung

09 May 2009

Spring has finally arrived, with the country park changing from the cold and grey of winter to a bright and fresh world full of birdsong, flowers and foliage.

One of the first signs of spring is frogs returning to ponds to breed. There were hundreds of frogs and toads in and around the ponds at Darnley Mill in March and by late April there were thousands of tadpoles.

Frogs at Darnley Mill

The tree buds start to swell before bursting into leaf, transforming the woods at Waulkmill Glen from the bareness of winter to the fresh greens of spring. The first wildflowers start to appear, the bright yellow of lesser celandine is normally one of the first to flower, closely followed by coltsfoot and primrose. Waulkmill Glen woods will also be full of bluebells, wood-sorrel, wood anemone and common dog violet.

As night time temperatures rise pipistrelle bats wake up having spent the winter hibernating and can be seen hunting for food within the country park. 

Spring also sees major changes in the country park birdlife, wintering birds such as goldeneye, having spent much of the winter on the country park’s reservoirs, move north for the summer.  Summer migrants, such as willow warbler and swallow, start to return having travelled thousands of miles. 

Swallows spend their winters in South Africa before flying north, crossing the Sahara, travelling through Morocco, Spain, France and England before arriving in the country park. During this difficult journey swallows will travel nearly 6000 miles, flying over 200 miles per day and travelling at speeds of 17- 22 miles per hour. 

See all the colours of the country park by visiting our spring gallery which will be updated throughout the season with new images.

2009 first signs of spring in the country park
Each spring the countryside rangers will record the date when the following plants and animals are first spotted. You can help by submitting a wildlife sighting of your own to add to the recent sightings section.

  • Frog spawn – 23rd February at Darnley Mill
  • Lesser celandine - 10th March at Darnley Mill
  • Singing chiffchaff – 23rd March at Ryat Linn Reservoir
  • Bumblebee -17th March near Waulkmill Glen Reservoir
  • Swallow – 8th April at Balgray Reservoir
  • Willow warbler – 8th April at Balgray Reservoir
  • Bluebell in flower – 18th April in Waulkmill Glen
  • Orange tip butterfly – 19th April by Littleton Reservoir
  • Large red damselfly – still to be recorded in 2009
  • Swift – still to be recorded in 2009