Nature is starting to emerge from its long winter slumber, and now is the time to greet it. On those first bright sunny days at the end of winter (in between the storms), even those who love being indoors can be tempted out from hibernation.

Now is the time to explore outdoors, to see, hear and even smell the signs of renewal after the winter season. Listen out for the sound of birdsong and sights of early flowers such as snowdrops peeping through the soil. On sunny days, as the weather heats up, listen for the gentle humming of bumblebees. You might spot dazed looking queen bees, as they emerge from hibernation and start investigating spots to start a new hive.

It’s also the perfect opportunity to introduce children to mindfulness and nature-science and let them discover the natural world. RSPB nature reserves are stunning places enjoy the first signs of spring together. Lying to the south-east of Lough Neagh, RSPB Portmore Lough is a great place for wildlife spotting. Along the tree lined path, you might spot birds such as blue tits searching out safe, warm sites to start building a nest. Keep an eye out for lapwings as you look out over the meadows. Lapwings are a beautiful bird, with a distinctive black head crest and iridescent dark green feathers on their backs. They will soon begin their acrobatic breeding displays. Watch for the males as they zigzag, tumble, and dive while calling to advertise their presence to rivals and potential mates.

Whilst at Belfast’s Window on Wildlife, just 10 minutes from the city centre, you’ll find a hidden oasis teeming with wildlife. The hides and observation room provide great opportunities for wildlife watching in all weather. Along the trail you might spot one of our first spring flowers - hazel catkins hanging from the trees, they are also known as lamb’s tails due to their long almost fluffy appearance. Out on the lagoon, duck numbers are at their peak, with shelducks, wigeon and shovelers among the colourful flocks which spend winter here.  Black-headed gulls have started some early prospecting for the best nesting spots, and some keen individuals have already been spotted gathering nesting materials.  

To find an RSPB nature reserve near you and start uncovering the early signs of spring visit rspb.org.uk/ni. RSPB members get free entry to RSPB nature reserves across the UK to experience the wonders of nature all year round.  

 

 Image credits: Snowdrops: Michael Harvey (rspb-images.com), Lapwing: Graham Goodall (rspb-images.com), Belfast WOW hide 1: Press Eye 

 

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