The most welcoming signs of spring

From daffodils to the dawn chorus, the first signs of spring offer promise of new life and warmer, lighter days. Here are the first signs of spring look out for in the British countryside.

Daffodils in a woodland

Here is our guide on the first signs of spring look out for in the British countryside.

1

Snowdrops

Delicate snowdrops appear in the UK from January to early March. While they are often quickly buried in snow, these lovely nodding white flowers hint that the dark days and long nights of winter will soon be drawing to a close.

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Snowdrops in woodlands
Head to your local woodlands to spot snowdrops in January and February (Getty)

Denbighshire, Llandegla, bridge over river Alyn, daffodils, springtime, national flower of Wales

2

Dawn chorus

Singing us into spring, the birds really get going with their morning melodies by early March as they seek to attract mates and defend their territories. The early-worm-catchers are the skylarks, song thrushes, robins and blackbirds whereas smaller birds such as wrens and warblers seem to stay in bed until it’s a bit warmer.

Robin singing
Wake to the joyful sound of the dawn chorus in spring (Getty)
3

Lesser celandine

Bright yellow stars at the woodland’s edge and the hedgerow’s foot. Flowers from February to late April.

Yellow Lesser Celandine flower in English countryside with space for copy or text.
Yellow Lesser Celandine flower in English countryside with space for copy or text.
4

Buzzards skydancing

When male buzzards begin showing off their skydiving skills you know that they’re thinking of settling down with a mate, so warmer weather must be on its way.

Common buzzard, Buteo buteo, single bird in flight, Warwickshire, June 2014
Common buzzard, Buteo buteo, single bird in flight, Warwickshire, June 2014

A vantage point near a wooded hill is the perfect place to watch their rollercoaster-like aerobatic displays which see them corkscrewing down from a great height, then soaring back into the skies.  Best time to spot from January.

5

Daffodils

Lovely, cheering daffodils start blooming from February to early April. Bursting with the promise of sunny days just around the corner, these joyful yellow flowers blossom from late February to early April.

Daffodils
Daffodils

Did you know that galantine, a compound extracted from daffodils, is used to treat patients with Alzheimer’s as it slows the progress of the disease?

6

Great crested grebes’ water ballet

From mid February, park lakes and reservoirs become aquatic stages for the strangest and most elegant avian courtship display as the two birds mimic each other’s movements.

Greatcrestedgrebes-2cd622a

7

Bumblebees

The warmth of the sun will soon be awakening our queen bumblebees, who will need plenty of nectar in March and April to recharge their batteries as they go hunting new places to start a colony. When she has found a suitable nest, the queen makes a mound of pollen and secreted wax into which she lays her first brood of eggs.

Summer Macro bumblebee image on thistle,taken at Glan Oughterard Co Galway.
Summer Macro bumblebee image on thistle,taken at Glan Oughterard Co Galway.
8

Cherry blossom

A fleeting but fabulous burst of cherry blossom is one of the most breathtaking signs of spring – except when it appears in December when it’s a sign that temperatures are topsy turvy.

Cherry blossom tree spring background with copy space
Cherry blossom tree spring background with copy space

Japan is the best place to enjoy the pink and white eruption of the lovely prunus, but you don’t have to venture far to see a dramatic display.

9

Brimstone butterfly

Big, bright and fluttering in a woodland ride  or garden near you, these dairy-yellow insects are the whole reason butterflies have butter in their names. They are among the first insects on the wing and can be seen on warm days in March.

brimstone butterfly while sucks up the nectar
brimstone butterfly while sucks up the nectar

That fluttering flash of buttery yellow in the spring sunshine is probably a male brimstone and may also be the inspiration for our word ‘butterfly’. The female’s wings are whitish green and, like the male’s, have an orange spot on each side as well as leaf-like veining, which blends in beautifully when they alight on bramble and ivy.

10

The arrival of the first swallow

Swooping, fork-tailed in pursuit of the year’s first insect life, this African visitor arrives in April hunting for the year’s first tasty insects and generously remains with us until September. It’s impossible not to smile when you see your first swallow.

Swallow, Hirundo rustica, single bird in flight against blue sky, Portugal, March 2010
Swallow, Hirundo rustica, single bird in flight against blue sky
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Look out for the flash of red on its throat, its white underparts and the long tail streamers that distinguish it from its close cousins the swift, house martin and sand martin.