Month in pictures – April in the countryside

A selection of the month's best photos from the UK countryside

Bluebells in Dartmoor National Park

For many, April marks the middle of spring. Bluebells break through the forest floor and roadside verges, birds are busy gathering nest materials and trees turn green.

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From marvellous moths and mustelids to lush valleys and wilds coasts, we’ve come across some amazing photography while putting together the April 2019 issue of BBC Countryfile Magazine. Celebrate the month with a few of our favourite images.

Finnich Glen, Stirlingshire

Carnock Burn, Finnich Glen, Stirlingshire
The Carnock Burn carves its way through the sandstone gorge, often named locally as the Devil’s Pulpit.

The waters of Carnock Burn carve through sandstone to create a gorge chattering with waterfalls near the village of Drymen in Stirlingshire. The gorge, called Finnich Glen but known collectively as the Devil’s Pulpit along with its strange rock formations and red-stained water (from the rock), has given rise to lurid tales of witches, human sacrifice and even an appearance by Old Nick himself. 


Orange-tip butterfly

Orange-tip butterfly, Anthocharis cardamines)
Orange-tip butterfly emerging from chrysalis ©Alamy

A male orange-tip butterfly emerges from its chrysalis, its bright green eye taking in the new world. But it can’t fly immediately. Its first act is to pump fluid into the veins of its crumpled wings and expand them to full size. After some 15–30 minutes, it takes to the air in search of its first food as an adult – and also for a mate (the female has more greenish-white wing tips). Orange-tips are one of the first butterflies to emerge and are on the wing in warm days in mid-to-late March and all through April. After mating, the female lays her eggs on lady’s smock flowers, which the larvae relish.


Nash Point and Glamorgan Heritage Coast, Wales

Nash Point and Glamorgan Heritage Coast, Wales
Nash Point and Glamorgan Heritage Coast, Wales ©Alamy

Marvel at the fascinating geology of the Glamorgan Heritage Coast’s stepped cliffs, running for 22.5km between Aberthaw and Porthcawl.


Green woodpecker

Green woodpecker
Green woodpecker ©Alamy

This colourful, handsome bird forages for ants among the heather, probing with a long sticky tongue. Our largest resident woodpecker, it’s famous for its distinctive laughing call, or yaffle.


Water of Leith, Edinburgh

Water of Leith, Edinburgh
Water of Leith, Edinburgh ©Alamy

A wildlife-rich riverside corridor runs through the heart of Scotland’s capital city. As spring unfolds, the Water of Leith and its overgrown banks buzz with colour and life, offering ample opportunity for discovery.


Pine martens

Pine marten
Mustelidae are a family of carnivorous mammals, and there are seven species found in the wild in the UK, including the pine marten ©Getty

A little bigger than the polecat, dark brown with a yellowish throat patch. A creature of the woods where it hunts squirrels and other rodents, as well as eating fruit, fungi and insects. Rare, it’s found mostly in Scotland with small numbers in north and west Wales.


Iona, Scotland

Iona, Scotland
Iona, Scotland ©Getty

Getting to the island paradise of Iona couldn’t be easier.

First you fly to Scotland or, more romantically, board the Caledonian Sleeper train from London and let it carry you through the night to the north. Then you cross the Highlands to Oban on the west coast. From here, the Caledonian MacBrayne ferries chug across the sea to the Inner and Outer Hebrides every day. You still have a way to go: you board a CalMac to the Isle of Mull, ride a bus across the island and then take a 10-minute foot ferry across the water from Mull to Iona. When you finally arrive, lightly sea-sprayed, on Iona’s tiny jetty, you’ve travelled as far as you can. Beyond this land is just the open Atlantic. You can’t help but feel like you’ve successfully escaped. 


Ospreys

Osprey
Osprey leaves lake with a big fish ©Getty

Ospreys feed solely on fish and make their nests near lochs that have a plentiful supply. These majestic birds can be seen in the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park. 


Cave Hill, Belfast

Cave Hill, Belfast, Northern Ireland
Cave Hill, Belfast, Northern Ireland ©Alamy

The weather-beaten summit of Cave Hill rears up above the streets of Belfast. This city-edge country park is home to sparrowhawks, orchids and carpets of bluebells in spring.


Emperor moth

Male emperor moth
Male emperor moth ©Getty

Emperor moths have four large eye spots to deter birds. Males can detect the scent of females from several kilometres away; you can buy pheromone lures to attract this spectacular species.


Jesmond Dene, Newcastle

Jesmond Dene, Tyne and Wear
Jesmond Dene, Tyne and Wear ©Alamy

Tumbling down from the north of Newcastle, the Ouseburn river rises most magnificently as it passes through Jesmond Dene on its six-mile journey from Callerton to the city centre.


Bluebells in Dartmoor

Bluebells in Dartmoor National Park
Bluebells in Dartmoor National Park ©Getty

We normally expect to see bluebells creating pools of violet radiance within woodlands, but there are plenty of examples across Britain of the flowers appearing in more open landscapes, such as this gorgeously fresh scene on Dartmoor. This usually signifies that the area was once wooded. By early May, the swift-growing, guardsman-straight shoots of bracken are already pushing through the flowers and within a month will have completely conquered the land. 


Giant oaks

Oak tree
A giant green oak tree casting dark shadows across the land ©Getty

A centuries-old symbol of strength and survival, the English oak supports more wildlife than any other native tree, including over 280 insect species. Once worn as good-luck charms, its acorns are a rich food source for woodland creatures, including jays and squirrels.

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