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Nature of Britain Calendar: April

Updated Tuesday, 1st April 2008

Encourage roosting bats by providing a bat box - and find out what else is happening in April

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Do one thing

Make a bat box to encourage roosting bats into your garden.

What to look for

Millions of migrant birds will be flooding into Britain from south of the Sahara. Cuckoos, swallows, house martins and delicate willow warblers arrive on the south and east coasts.

Among our resident birds, the nesting season is well under way. Great tits, blue tits and long-tailed tits are rearing young and robins, song thrushes and blackbirds are fledging.

It’s breeding time in the water too; watch out for sticklebacks in ponds and rivers; the red-bellied males will be busy tending their nests of sticks and vegetation. Smooth newts float in their spring finery like miniature dragons in garden ponds.

The first bats are emerging from hibernation; look out for our smallest, the pipistrelle, and our largest, the noctule

In woods, tides of bluebells are a magnificent sight. Look out for other spring woodland flowers like dog violet, yellow archangel and greater stitchwort.

On heaths, gorse and broom are flowering and in marshy areas, lady’s smock (also known as the cuckoo flower), the food plant of the orange-tip butterfly.

Keep an eye out for some early invertebrates on foliage such as the hawthorn shield bug or green shield bug.

Did you know

Bats in the UK eat only insects (such as midges, moths and mosquitoes), which they catch in flight or pick off water, foliage or the ground. The pipistrelle can eat up to 3,000 midges in one night – one-third of its body weight! Find out more at the Bat Conservation Trust

Habitat of the month: Riverbanks

Under willows and hazel near water look for the pale parasitic flowers of toothwort. In the clear waters you may see trout, stickleback, roach and chub.

Photo opportunity: Woodland flowers

In the woods, many plants are coming into bloom. Get down low and use a small tripod to keep your lens steady. Try using a piece of white card to reflect some extra light on to your subject.

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