Tips to See Wildlife: March

Birds to watch out for

If you have conifers in your garden, or go walking in a conifer plantation, watch out for goldcrests. These tiny birds seem to be very active at this time of year and are even known to come to fat feeders in your garden.

A wonderful birding spectacle to watch out for on lakes and on water at gravel pits is the mating dance of the great crested grebe. We've managed to find a wonderful video (actually filmed in Northern Ireland) on YouTube that shows you what to watch out for.

Wheatear will be arriving in the next few weeks, often the first noticeable migrants to arrive. They fly in daylight hours so arrive at our coastline early mornings and usually hang around for a while before heading onwards. Clifftops are a good place to look for them - so worth heading for Kimmeridge.

Lastly, chiffchaffs should also be in full song in early March. With their chiff-chaff song they are one of our easier birds to recognise!

Insects to spot

Orange tip butterflies should hopefully be on the wing in late March, along with brimstone and small tortoiseshell butterflies. It will be lovely to see some butterflies again! Kingcombe Meadows would be a great place to go searching for them.

Bumblebees, honeybees and solitary bees will also be out in force. Look for the "pussy-willow" of grey willow, or even on daffodils and crocus, and you should find them gorging themselves!

The video below is of one of the first bumblebees you are likely to see, the buff-tailed bumblebee. This one is having a big of a pollen clean-up!

Amourous Amphibians

Watch out for spawning frogs and toads in your garden pond or larger ponds in the countryside or parks. Did you know that female frogs often turn quite pink and blotchy before spawning, as our photo demonstrates!

Don't forget to let Pond Conservation know how much frog or toad spawn you have in your pond at their Big Spawn Count 2012 page.

Fast moving mammals

Tis the season for Mad March Hares, these boxing hares are usually the females boxing off over amorous males. Brown hares can breed in any month of the year and usually have 2 ­ 3 litters with 3-4 leverets in each litter.

However, they are much easier to see at this time of year (due to the lack of foliage), so try to get out and see them if you can. Early morning or dusk are good times and the Cranborne Chase and fields around Kimmeridge are excellent places to see them.

The video below is an excellent example of "boxing" hares.

If March is mild, we should also start to see more bats emerging from hibernation. Watch out for them in your garden, parks and over fields (and around street lights where there are lots of moths!). The tiny common pipistrelle is our most numerous, and most often spotted, bat in the UK.

Don't forget the flowers!

Depending on the weather you should see primrose, moschatel, lords-and-ladies, dog's mercury, wood-sorrel and bluebell if you take a trip to Kingcombe Meadows nature reserve.

With 450 acres to wander, you could quite easily lose yourself for a whole day (but don't forget to go for a cuppa at the Kingcombe Centre if you get thirsty!).

On the sea-shore

Our marine experts always head out on the Equinox tides (extreme low water) for some low tides and high times - especially around the Kimmeridge area and the Purbeck Marine Wildlife Reserve. This is one of the best times to see vibrant algal colours before the spring and summer sun bleaches out the pigment. 

As the days start to get longer and hopefully warmer, plants on land start to burst into colour, so does the life under the sea and it can be just as colourful.

Seaweed at its best

Marine life usually hidden beneath the waves is suddenly revealed, as March is the time of the lowest spring tides. Seaweeds start to grow and the more colourful seaweeds such us rainbow wrack or magic seaweed can be seen more clearly, especially on calm spring days. This bright, iridescent seaweed is a vivid blue colour and stands out from all the other seaweeds.

Watch out for egg-ribbons!

Lots of sea creatures start to spawn at this time of the year. The colourful sea lemon (a type of sea slug) can often be found laying its egg-ribbons in the shallows and on the seashore during March. The eggs are curled into a rose-like coil and are easier to spot than the camouflaged parent.

We hope you have a great month! There should be plenty to see.


With thanks to all the staff & volunteers
who have contributed to this month's article






Goldcrest by Ken Dolbear

Wheatear by Ken Dolbear

Wheatear by Ken Dolbear

Orange Tip by Ken Dolbear

Orange tip butterfly by Ken Dolbear

Female Frog by Jane Adams

A colourful female frog by Jane Adams

PIPISTRELLE 1 by hugh Clark

Pipistrelle bat species by Hugh Clarke


Primroses - always a joy to see!

Porcelain crab hitching a lift on a tompot blenny EMMA RANCE

Porcelain crab hitching a lift on a
tompot blenny by Emma Rance



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