Spring is the peak season for flowering plants and nesting mammals, birds and insects. Some adjustments to management now can boost the survival of flowering plants and productivity of animals through the breeding season.

Below are some top tips for helping and enjoying wildlife over the next three months:

Flower-rich hay meadows can be enhanced by excluding livestock from March or April and delaying cutting until July to September (later is better for fungi such as waxcaps, which fruit in late summer or autumn)

Image: Cattle grazing in meadow (c) RSPB

Flower-rich pastures can be enhanced by lighter grazing from March through the spring and summer, or by removing stock for a period of 8-10 weeks in the summer to allow flowers to bloom and set seed. See more here

On wet grasslands, breeding waders can be protected by excluding or reducing livestock numbers during the nesting period. See more here

Leaving tussocky grass margins and ditches undisturbed can help to protect of nesting bumblebees and other insects and small mammals. See more here

Look out for the flowering of Blackthorn (March) and Hawthorn (May) on hedges not trimmed for two years, compared with those trimmed last winter. These hedgerow flowers will provide important pollen and nectar sources to support pollinators.

Image: Hedgerow blossom in spring (c) RSPB

Stop hedgerow cutting from 1 March to protect early nesting species such as thrushes See more here

Wild bird seed mixes or unharvested bird cover crops can be established in April or May to provide vital seed food for farmland birds in the winter. See more here

It is especially important to avoid use of insecticides from 31 March, as many beneficial insects will move into the crop to feed on pests and pollinate crops. See our case study of insecticide-free arable farming here 

Image: A ladybird climbing a grass stalk (c) RSPB

Keeping an eye out for Lapwing nests, especially in spring crops and unimproved grasslands, if doing any cultivations or rolling operations from mid-March will help to safeguard eggs and chicks

Take steps to minimise the use of chemical parasite treatment on outdoor stock in the spring to help dung beetles and other dung degrading fauna. See more on ways to reduce the impact of parasite control chemicals on wildlife here

Awake before sunrise any day in May? Step out and enjoy the dawn chorus! The National Dawn Chorus Day this year is Sunday 5th May 2024

Image: A bright male Yellowhammer singing on branch (c) RSPB