Male sparrowhawk. Photo: David Turner

March weather was a mix of every type of condition we could experience. We endured storm Freya for the first three days of the month, which consisted of extremely strong winds and rain, although the temperature stayed reasonably mild throughout.

March was a busy month for wildlife and it presented a few surprises, mostly because of the weather which changed dramatically mid-month, becoming much warmer with temperatures reaching 21ºC in the afternoons. The cold weather returned at the end of the month. There was very little rain and, if April proves as warm and dry as forecast, I can see a hose-pipe ban being announced in the near future!

Although fascinating to watch, squirrels can be very destructive and the four roaming our garden took a liking to camellia and magnolia buds this year. The camellia is a very large shrub, so missing a few buds is not an issue, but the magnolia tree is another story; it is a six-year-old purple-flowered magnolia and this was its best year for flowers so far. In just one day, the squirrels had stripped the tree of buds and flowers and dumped them on the ground without eating them. I have asked questions on wildlife websites, but no-one can come up with an answer to this strange behaviour.

Dunnock having a ‘moment’. Photo: David Turner

I’ve been entertained by a frustrated dunnock trying to mate with its reflection in a glazed conservatory door. It would stand on the door handle flapping its wings and pecking the glass. I eventually pulled down the blinds which helped to bring this show to a close.

In addition to the regular set of birds I’d expect to see in the garden this month, I also saw a female great spotted woodpecker, stock doves, pied wagtails, a male sparrowhawk and a female blackcap.

Hedgehogs caused excitement when a trail camera captured them on 19 March; this was their first sighting after their winter hibernation. There was further excitement on 23 March when the camera recorded a pair mating; I hope we will see young later in the season.

I set up my moth trap on 25 March and that same evening I recorded a hebrew character moth. I find moths very difficult to identify, but with expert help, I identified a powdered quaker, a plume moth, a pug moth, a tachystola moth and a white shouldered house moth.

Peacock butterfly. Photo: David Turner

A brimstone butterfly paid the garden a visit in 24 March. It is always the first of the butterflies to appear, but this was exceptionally early due to the warm conditions. I also saw other butterflies such as the peacock, orange tip and small blue.

I photographed a a male hairy-footed flower bee, which again was very early in the year.

On 6 March I spotted another fox den entrance; this is the third den they have made this year. By the end of March, the foxes were using one of their dens to raise four cubs. I will write more on this exciting development next month, accompanied by some wicked images!

Hibernating ladybirds. Photo: David Turner

A bit about the author

David Turner has lived in Whitley for 45 years. His wildlife-friendly garden is 100% organic, which has allowed a lot of wildlife to use it, including foxes, mice, birds and all manner of insects.

  1. David Turner on Twitter and the Whitley Pump
  2. The natural and social pictorial history of a house in Whitley
  3. RSPB
  4. UK butterflies
  5. UK moths
  6. Bumblebee conservation trust