April with Durham Wildlife Trust

Whilst March marked the beginning of Spring it is April that puts it in full swing.

As carpets of bluebells unroll across the woodland floor, and confetti like petals fall from the wild cherry tree, the path ahead blossoms.

Bare branches begin to bloom and overhead trees come into leaf, providing some shelter from the April showers.

April is the month to celebrate migration as birds pour in, to spend the summer months with us again. For many it is the first flash of cobalt and a long-forked tail as a swallow swoops over fields, or chatters on a telephone wire, which heralds the start of spring. For us, it is also the return of our breeding kittiwakes on The River Tyne.

The warmer days will flutter by with the return of several colourful species of butterfly, including the beautiful orange-tip, and buzz with the returning sound of insects. Once the sun flows in many of our reptiles will come out to find a comfortable warm spot. Taking their first steps out of their setts will be the badger cubs this month, closely guarded by their mothers.

As many of our feathered friends finish constructing their breeding nests, the bubbling courtship call of the male red grouse will resonate in the fields and moors as it dances and flashes its white feathers to attract a mate. This display on their courtship ground is known as a ‘lek’.

This month we really do have a packed programme of events to help you experience the joys of spring.

On Wednesday 4th at Saltmarsh Garden we will be building bird boxes and creating tasty treats for our feathered friends, whilst on Thursday 5th, as Pond Dip Detectives, we search for life beneath the water at Low Barns. Our Wildlife Bonanza takes place on Friday 6th at Mowbray Park, enjoy a wild day of activities and find out how you can join in with our big pledge to make Sunderland wilder.

On Saturday 7th at Rainton Meadows our Green Families morning event is the perfect opportunity for your whole family to be active outdoors and involved in our conservation work. In the afternoon we also have a  Spring Craft and Treasure Trail at the reserve.

Our Volunteering Fair at Low Barns takes place on Sunday 8th. Whether you’re looking for a new hobby, to develop skills, make your CV wilder, or simply want to help protect the nature on your doorstep, we will be on hand to help find the right opportunity for you. Find out more here.

On Tuesday 10th, Lanchester Wildlife Group meet at Lanchester Community Centre and are joined by guest speaker Graham Temby, Education Officer at Durham County Badger Group.

We discover the magic of our most magical plants at Low Barns Wizard School on Wednesday 11th, on Thursday 12th we are Pond Dipping at Rainton Meadows, and on Friday 13th at Cheep and Cheerful we are discovering the birds at The Whinnies Nature Reserve.

On the evening of Friday 13th we welcome all members to test your knowledge with our Wildlife Quiz Night at Durham Amateur Rowing Club.

On Sunday 15th we are holding A Practical Introduction to Conservation, a volunteer taster session day at Rainton Meadows focusing on habitat management and maintenance. Whilst, at Low Barns we have our In Focus Optrics Demonstration, for those looking for wildlife watching equipment to try before they buy.

Our Revealing Reptiles Officer John Grundy will lead our Reptile Awareness Day at Pow Hill Country Park on Saturday 21st. Find out what reptiles have been discovered on the site, and how you can be involved in reptile surveying.

Our monthly Wildlife Watch groups for children take place this month on Saturday 21st at Rainton Meadows and on Saturday 28th at Low Barns.

On Wednesday 25th Washington Wildlife Group hold their monthly meeting at Washington Old Hall.

On Saturday 28th it’s a chance to develop your reptile knowledge further this month as the Land of Oak and Iron Wildlife Group are Searching for Slow Worms at Bay Bridge.

Our highlight of the month is our Black Grouse Lek at Low Barns on Saturday 28th. We are joined at 5am by local wildlife expert Ian Findlay to watch their courtship dawn display. Places are limited, please get in touch for more information.

With a busy month for events and wildlife ahead, please don’t forget to share your wildlife photos with us on Twitter @durhamwildlife and Facebook and keep checking on our website too for new events: http://durhamwt.com/events/.