The Norfolk Coast – A monthly wildlife guide by Oli Reville
The year is really motoring along now and during April wildlife is going into over drive with the aim of breeding and migrating.
Adders will be shedding their winter skins and will emerge looking resplendent. The males, with their silver and black markings, begin courting females during the start of April and if you are very lucky you may see two male Adders dancing. It is a wonderful but very rare spectacle so well worth recording if you get the opportunity. Once this is complete mating will take place and it is after this point that Adders become harder to find.
The warm nights and calm, sunny days make for ideal conditions for Norfolk’s butterflies and April will see the emergence of many species.
It is also the start of the moth season and now is a great time to get yourself a moth trap set up and see what moths call your garden home.
April is also the month of that most iconic of flowers the Bluebell. Woodlands will become a carpet of blue and purple as they emerge. I was fortunate enough to learn of such a location at Buffler Grove near Gunthorpe. This National Trust owned site is currently a sea of green Bluebell plants and by the end of the month will be transformed into the blue carpet associated with Bluebells.
Surely though April belongs to the birds. From Blackbirds to Blue Tits the birds of our gardens are well into their breeding season and it won’t be long until the first young birds are emerging, although May is the month for this.
April also sees the greatest arrival of migratory birds. Following on from March’s flurry of Wheatears and Sand Martins comes a real mix of species. Reed and Sedge Warblers have begun to return to our coastal reed beds and the first Ring Ouzels, Terns and Yellow Wagtails are slowly beginning to filter through. Many of these species stay in Norfolk for the summer to breed and April sees the start of this large movement of birds.
Last but very much not least is the return of our Swallows and House Martins. At the start of April there is usually a small amount but by the end of the month both of these iconic species will be here in large numbers, filling the skies with their unmistakable shape.
April is a fantastic month, a favourite of many, and it is the month where wildlife really comes alive.
So make the most of the extra light in the evenings and enjoy Norfolk in Spring.