Natural calendar

The Lightshaw Meadows landscape changes throughout the year. Spring is a time of activity with flowers appearing, hibernating animals emerging and many birds which migrated for the winter coming back to Lightshaw Meadows. During summer the days are longer and it is one of the best times to watch young birds and learn about the different insects. In autumn the trees turn wonderful colours and there is lots of food for wildlife such as berries, nuts and seeds. Winter on the other hand is a difficult time for wildlife as it is difficult to find food and many animals hibernate or migrate elsewhere. Winter however is ones of the best times to watch wildfowl, such as geese, ducks and swans.

Things to look out for in spring (March, April, May):

  • Birds which left for the winter arriving into Lightshaw Meadows for example the yellow wagtail arrives from March and the reed warbler and sedge warbler arrive from April.
  • Colourful flowers emerging from their buds, such as the creamy white flowers of the hawthorn and blackthorn shrubs from late April to May and later the pink flowers of the blackberry shrub.
  • Leaves starting to grow back on the trees which lost their leaves in winter.
  • The variety of bird songs which are at their best as many birds are singing to attract a mate.
  • Birds making nests either in the trees, on the ground or at the water’s edge.
  • Hibernating animals emerging on the first warm days of spring such as frogs, toads and new queen bees.

Things to look out for in summer (June, July, August):

  • Young birds being fed by their parents or following their parents to the water, and later leaving their nest for the first time.
  • Trees which lost their leaves in winter now have green crowns.
  • Flower rich meadows which are at their best in June, with many butterflies and amazing flowers to look out for.
  • Abundant insects such as bees, butterflies, dragonflies and beetles.

Things to look out for in Autumn (September, October, November):

  • Fruits such as blackberries, haws from the hawthorn and the sloe from the blackthorn.
  • The fantastic variety of colours on trees, as leaves change from green to shades of vivid red, gold and orange.
  • Birds forming flocks (large groups), which can help them to find food, provide protection and help them to keep warm. Flying in a flock can also help make the birds to save energy as they can take advantage of the currents in the surrounding air.
  • Birds leaving for the winter, such as the yellow wagtail, reed warbler and sedge warbler which arrived in spring to breed.
  • Some waterfowl, such as mallards, pairing up before nesting in Spring.

Things to look out for in Winter (December, January, February):

  • Large numbers of waterfowl (ducks, geese and swans), with many arriving from northern and eastern Europe for the winter, such as the tufted duck, pochard and gadwall.
  • The colourful plumage (feathers) of male waterfowl which helps them to attract a mate.
  • The pairing up of waterfowl before nesting and breeding in the spring.
  • The bare branches of trees, such as oak and ash.