Thursday, 8 March 2012

Spring Fever

With spring just around the corner it's a busy time for Gibside's wildlife.  Frogs, toads and newts are all waking from their winter hibernation and heading back to the ponds to join in a frenzy of spawning.

Hares are quite visible lately around West Wood, Hollow Walk and farm fields and are beginning to do what hares do in march, lots of chasing around, cavorting, bit of boxing and generally acting quite mad (hence 'Mad March Hare').

Badgers have been very busy of late spring cleaning their setts, often moving huge amounts of earth from the tunnels in the process and collecting large piles of grass and other vegetation for their bedding.  They drag this bedding back to the sett between their front legs and often drop bundles in the process which can be found on their paths and outside the sett entrances.  Much of this new bedding is used by the sows (females) who will already be suckling their new cubs and these should make their first appearance above ground from early april onwards.

Roe deer tracks are well trodden as family groups travel to and from their favourite feeding areas.   Younger bucks are growing their antlers under a protective covering of velvet while the older dominant bucks already have fully grown antlers and many have already begun removing the velvet by rubbing them on young saplings removing the tree's bark in the process.

Birds are also now getting very active withs males singing from their favourite perches, woodpeckers drumming on dead boughs and many have already begun nest building.  That means it's also a busy time for Gibside's rangers and volunteers with lots of nest boxes to make and attach to trees.  Some of these have cameras installed and hopefully live footage from these will be screened in the Wildlife room at the Stables from April onwards.

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