April with Durham Wildlife Trust

Karen Forster News

April showers may bring us May flowers but before then we have so much to see. Whilst March marked the beginning of Spring, it is April that puts it in full swing.

It’s the perfect month for a stroll through England’s ancient woods.  Under the trees, now bursting into leaf, spectacular carpets of sweet scented bluebells spread.

Our feathered summer visitors continue to arrive whilst orange tips, small tortoiseshell and peacock flutter by – our dazzling butterfly collection.

It’s a month for tuning in to wildlife too. Whilst the woods of southern England may celebrate the return of the nightingale song, up north happy hour will be called by the house martins.  Listen out for the arrival of the warblers, swallow and cuckoos too.  Don’t be fooled by the early morning wake up call – it’s more likely to be a blackbird, song thrush or wood pigeon than the cuckoo clock.

In our meadows, the cuckoo flower, orchids and cowslip appear, and in our hedgerows it’s the return of the dandelions.  If the great British edible weed doesn’t make it onto your spring menu, their leaves will make a great treat for guinea pigs and the Easter bunnies.

Shine a light under the April skies on an evening and catch an illuminated newt in the water dancing in the dark, a courtship dance saved for late night viewing.  Look out for the tadpoles spinning in the ponds too.

This month, as we say goodbye to the fieldfares, redwings, visiting swans, geese and waders, we look forward to meeting our new arrivals and enjoying DWT’s packed programme of events.

Regardless of the April showers, the Low Barns Watch Group will be making a splash on Saturday 1st as they put on their wellies and waterproofs and take a dip in the Low Barns pond to see what they can find.

On Monday 3rd, a group of wildlife enthusiasts will learn how to identify the tracks and signs of one of Britain’s fastest declining wild mammals as they develop their Water Vole Surveying Skills, with help from our conservation officer at Station Burn Nature Reserve (this event is fully booked).

The DWT Botany Group start the month on Tuesday 4th with a visit to Hedleyhope Fell to survey heather plots.  On Thursday 6th they continue their four session course Identifying Flowers for Beginners at Rainton Meadows which ends on Thursday 20th.

An exciting highlight of the month is our Bird Song Weekend, DWT’s first residential event at Rowlands Gill on Saturday 8th and Sunday 9th..  Dusk and dawn walks will make sure that you see and hear the birds come to life at this musical time of year.

For that woodland walk, join DWT Botany Group on Sunday 9th at Milkwellburn Wood.  On Tuesday 11th they also hold their next group meeting at Rainton Meadows.  Doors are open for new and existing members.

We uncover those ponds again on Tuesday April 11 at Low Barns, join us for Family Pond Dipping and Sculptures.  Later in the day we will be discussing the Heathland Heartlands Project with The Lanchester Wildlife Group at Lanchester Community Centre.

We’ve plenty of events to keep the kids crafty over Easter.  On Wednesday 12th we celebrate Easter at the Saltmarsh Garden and on Thursday 13th we have Family Wild Woodlands.  Both events have a range of activities aimed at those aged 5-10.  On Saturday 15th Wildlife Watch are at Rainton Meadows for their monthly fun activity and, for the child in us all, on Easter Monday 17th we have Egg Rolling.

For those after something more than an egg for Easter, on Sunday 16th our In Focus experts will be on hand at Low Barns with a range of optical equipment to try.

On Tuesday 18th we are buzzing about bees at Low Barns. Flowers need pollination, and for that you need our bees.  It’s a two-sided love story this spring.  We continue our love for birds with our Easter Bird Bonanza for children at Whinnies Local Nature Reserve on Thursday 20th.

To  end the month, on Wednesday 26th, we welcome a brand new local wildlife group, Washington Wildlife Group, who will meet on the last Wednesday of every month at Washington Old Hall.

As you can see there are plenty of ways to get closer to nature this month with Durham Wildlife Trust, with thanks to the support of our members and volunteers. We hope you enjoy a nature-filled April and don’t forget to tweet us your pictures @durhamwildlife or share them with us on Facebook.

Karen Forster

Karen volunteers with Durham Wildlife Trust, collating monthly roundups and highlighting opportunities to get out and to enjoy our region's wildlife. Karen enjoys long fast walks along country lanes, coastal paths or hiding away from it all in a bird hide. Animal lover, guinea pig owner and bass guitar player for two indie bands, Karen lives in Gateshead and works as a business development lead for an architectural practice.