March is here and let’s hope it brings better weather than we had last month. Ciara and Dennis may sound like some sort of theatrical double act, with Dennis chasing Ciara across the weather stage, but in fact the poor people on the receiving end of their performances certainly weren’t applauding. The dreadful floods have rendered many people homeless with little hope of recovering their belongings. Seaside regions in Norfolk have suffered very high tides and devastating winds which have resulted in the erosion of coastal land.
However, spring should bring some good things to cheer us up. Daffodils, which we all love, will be blooming and we can look forward to beautiful, evening spring skies.
Celandine will show its star-like flowers later in the month and young rabbits may appear, not always welcome I know, but nice to see anyway. Rabbits can produce up to seven litters in a single breeding season so it’s no wonder there are so many of them! If we get a warm spell (please!) hedgehogs will be coming out of hibernation. This can be a dangerous time for them because, having depleted all their winter fat, there may not be much natural food for them yet so a little help may be needed.
‘Spikes Dinner’ is a commercially produced tinned food designed especially for Hedgehogs but if you cannot get this, tinned dog food will be welcome, also provide a dish of water.
Toads, frogs and newts will be coming out from their secret hibernation places this month and will be looking for mates to produce the next generations of amphibians. They breed in water so even the smallest pond will be investigated. I have friends who have created a little pond from a washing up bowl and last year it was full of frog spawn! Every little helps.
Wild Ken Hill Farm, in Heacham, has been granted a licence to release six beavers in an enclosure with a future plan to let them go into the wild. Beavers have not been in Norfolk since the twelfth century and the last one to be seen in Britain was in the sixteenth century. They were hunted to extinction for their fur and meat and also a waxy secretion from glands near the anus called castoreum. The beaver uses this to mark its territory and to help waterproof its fur; it was used it in perfume and food to add a flowery scent.
Beavers are very industrious, hence the saying ‘beavering away,’ and they build dams across waterways creating pools. They use logs and branches for this which they acquire by felling trees, gnawing away with their very sharp teeth, working around the trunks until they fall. The nest is called a lodge which has an underwater entrance and here they sleep, give birth and rear their young.
In Devon there has been a release programme, again in an enclosed area, which seems to have been successful. The activities of these animals have created habitats which have benefited other wildlife and also allowed plants to grow that were previously shaded out by the trees, so we will see what happens when beavers are released into the wild in Norfolk; our watery Broads would certainly be an ideal habitat these animals. It would be lovely to have an addition to our declining wildlife but some people don’t agree, fearing that beavers would cause flooding of farmland because of how they live and what they spend their time doing. I would like to hear readers opinions, especially farmers, on this subject.
As if the poor farmer hasn’t got enough to put up with, Black grass is on the increase. This is a native weed that grows abundantly in cereal fields and is becoming resistant to many herbicides; it is found mainly in the South East and East Anglia. It reduces the amount of wheat that is harvested which will possibly put up the price of bread and other cereal based products.
Birds have already started singing to attract mates and define their territories; they are also starting nesting activities looking for suitable sites and gathering material, a great sign that spring is about to happen. A bird I really miss is the sparrow. Sparrows like to live around buildings but since we have lived in a rural area the only time I see them is when I am driving through the village or at the local supermarket where they congregate twittering to each other. I am always pleased to see them.
Activities for March include:
Raptor roost – Hickling Broad.
Free family fun day, Playvan for pre-schoolers, Basic Hedgehog first aid, Weave a willow basket, all at Cley & Salthouse Marshes.
For details of all these and more: www.norfolkwildlifetrust.org.uk or 01603 625540.
Daffodil mile – Long Lane, Honing.
© Sheila Sims 2020. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org