Call us optimistic, but it’s already starting to feel a lot like spring in Little Langdale. The days are lengthening, the snow drops are in full bloom and the daffodils are on their way. Sadly, it’s still not clear when visitors will be able to return to the Three Shires Inn and Little Langdale, but we thought we’d give you a little bit of the flavour of spring in the valley by talking to our friend David Harpley from Cumbria Wildlife Trust.
Hopefully David’s words will go some way to giving you your fix of the Lake District as the seasons turn. Remember you can also have a look through our webcam to see what’s going on.
But for now, over to David to tell us all about how nature will be coming to life in the coming weeks.
Hopping into action
“One of the first signs of spring is that frogs will begin to spawn. There is only one native frog in Cumbria, the common frog. Frogs spawn first and then toads tend to go a few weeks later. One of the interesting things about the Lakes is that you get frogs breeding really quite high up into the fells.
“Frogs are looking for water that is fairly shallow and will warm up quickly so the tadpoles develop quickly. Toads look for bigger ponds because they are less vulnerable to predation. Everything eats frogs. Otters will be looking forward to gorging themselves on frogs over the next few weeks. They go and find places where there are lots of frogs and just lie up there and spend time eating.
“Into March you will see the first migratory birds returning, predominantly from Africa. The first ones people are likely to see are sand martins and wheatears. Willow warblers will come next and they are recognisable by their song. In the right place it sounds like every single bush has a willow warbler in it. You’ll find things like pied flycatchers in Lake District oak woods or redstarts, which are upland specialist birds.
“They are coming here really just to nest and they are exploiting the fact that the northern summer has very long hours. There is lots and lots of daylight for them to gather food. Coming back in the spring enables them to exploit the great outburst of insects.
“We have specialist upland birds who are early nesters. There are lots of lots of ravens which are nesting now. Things like peregrine falcons are early nesters because they have to get their young up to size by the end of the season and the bigger they are the longer it takes. The ospreys which go to Foulshaw in South Cumbria will be back by April. They are on a tight schedule because they have to produce a huge chick that has to be independent by August. They waste no time at all in mating and laying eggs.
Blooms and butterflies
“Through the spring we will get a full sequence of flowers. There are awesome displays of bluebells in the Lake District. You often get wood anemone, wood sorrel and celandine, violets; there are a whole host of them and you can get really spectacular displays throughout March and April.
“You will also see the first butterflies soon. The butterfly that all butterflies are named after is the brimstone. It is a butter yellow butterfly, hence the name. That will be out, possibly in March. We have the only two English populations of a butterfly named Scotch argus in the Lakes. We also have lots of populations of green hairstreak, which is a particularly attractive little butterfly that’s a striking green colour and you’ll find on heathland and moorland habitats.”
Cumbria Wildlife Trust does all sorts of great work to conserve and protect the natural beauty of the area. To make a donation to help keep Cumbria special go to www.cumbriawildlifetrust.org.uk.