CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Dorset Magazine today CLICK HERE

Why spring is on its way to Dorset earlier this year

PUBLISHED: 15:07 19 March 2014 | UPDATED: 15:07 19 March 2014

The exotically marked early purple orchid leaves in the woods at Kingcombe

The exotically marked early purple orchid leaves in the woods at Kingcombe


It has been a long, wet and stormy winter but also surprisingly mild, already there are plenty of signs in the Dorset countryside that spring is coming early this year

Drifts of snowdrops at KingcombeDrifts of snowdrops at Kingcombe

Drifts of tiny white snowdrops, banks of pale yellow primroses, new shoots of daffodils and a general perception of greening are encouraging signs that, despite the disastrous and persistent wet weather, Dorset’s flora and fauna are heralding an early spring. Victoria Vincent, Education & Engagement Officer at Dorset Wildlife Trust’s Kingcombe Meadows nature reserve, has already seen the signs: “We’re seeing things a month earlier than last year; here at Kingcombe early purple orchid leaves have already appeared and also hazel flowers.”

The warmer weather is also bringing out gnats and flies sooner than usual, which in turn may entice bats out of their winter hibernation somewhat earlier than might be expected.

As the days lengthen, making for lighter mornings and evenings, bird life becomes much more active and urgent. Many garden birds, such as chaffinch, tits, wrens and sparrows, are pairing and preparing nests for their new families.

Some of the first of the returning migrants such as hirundines – the swallows and martins – are frequently being seen earlier each year. The sand martin is generally the first of these species to arrive in Dorset but an occasional swallow is often spotted as early as March. As the warmer weather comes, most overwintering migrants in the UK such as redwings and field fares, return to breed in more northerly climes.

Frogspawn was reported in Cornwall as early as January this year, but when cold periods intervene these very early batches are unlikely to be viable. But by now, with greater activity by frogs that have kept a low profile at the bottom of ponds or in cavities over the winter months, more spawn is apparent in ponds. Even newts have been seen.

Hedgehogs which hunkered down in undergrowth are gradually beginning to emerge from their winter quarters to forage for food. Sadly, the population of these appealing creatures, often referred to as the gardeners’ friend as they have a liking for slugs, is in decline due to predation and loss of habitat. Consequently, they need as much help from us as possible.

Nigel Brooks, Warden at Dorset Wildlife Trust’s Upton Heath nature reserve, has also seen signs of an early spring on his patch. “There have been many signs of spring including a variety of butterflies; we recorded a brimstone butterfly on this reserve as early as 9 January and you can expect to see small tortoiseshells, red admirals and other species about.”

At the end of this month, without question, spring really will be with us, as British Summer Time begins on Sunday 30 March. Then the clocks go forward, and longer days are back again.


More from Out & About

Friday, December 7, 2018

This easy walk takes us into Hardy territory as well offering some glorious views towards Weymouth and Portland

Read more
Thursday, November 29, 2018

Here are some Dorset walks, easy and challenging, to get you out and about over the festive period

Read more
Wednesday, November 28, 2018

If you’re willing to brave the cold this Christmas Day, check out Dorset’s festive swim calendar for the best organised dips taking place in 2018

Read more
Thursday, November 15, 2018

Confusion reigns on the county’s eastern border

Read more
Thursday, November 15, 2018

From festive light switch-ons and Santa’s Grottos, to German Christmas markets and late-night shopping, we’ve covered what’s on in Dorset this season

Read more
Monday, November 12, 2018

From your first step, you will see superb views from hilltops and farmland footpaths on this walk

Read more
Sunday, November 11, 2018

Martin Clunes and his family have called West Dorset home for over two decades. Here he shares some of their favourite local places

Read more
Monday, November 5, 2018

To mark the centenary of the end of World War One we visit some of the memorials erected across Dorset to remember the fallen in the ‘war to end all wars’

Read more
Friday, October 26, 2018

This lovely walk takes us from watercress beds to a church famous for its life-size carvings of apostles

Read more
Thursday, October 25, 2018

Autumn is a great time to brush up on your gardening knowledge with the help of some experts, as well as see some well known gardens in a different light

Read more
Wednesday, October 24, 2018

The guide to Dorset’s best firework displays and bonfire events happening in 2018

Read more
Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Prepare to experience the paranormal this Hallowe’en as Visit Dorset reveals some of the county’s most haunted pubs, stately homes, historic buildings and tanks

Read more
Monday, October 15, 2018

Dorset villages are some of the most beautiful in England – think winding lanes, thatched cottages and a cosy pub or welcoming tea room. We suggest ten of the prettiest villages to visit in the county

Read more
Friday, September 14, 2018

Follow in the footsteps of the Romans on this lovely walk that takes in rare habitat, ancient woodland and glorious views

Read more
A+ South & South West

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Topics of Interest

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Property Search