The signs of Spring

Whilst the last few weeks seem to have passed by in a blurr of assignments, lectures, meetings and uni projects, seizing the odd hour or two to savour the fresh Cornish air has rewarded with a multitude of sights and sounds.

Spring has been creeping ever close as daylength stretches longer by the day; a plethora of wild flowers tentatively unveil their delicate shoots and petals in a burst of colour; dawn rings melodic with the sound of a multitude of songbirds, from the repetitive song thrushes through to the mechanical drumming of great spotted woodpeckers.

The air really is full of hope and restlessness for the turn of a season – spring is certainly here in the south-west, even if Storm Doris and countless low pressure systems have other ideas on their mind.

Whilst I’d like to detail the coming of spring in a detailed blog post, I am at present rather stretched for time and so I thought I would let the images to the work. Here is a selection taken over the last week or so – I hope you enjoy

The actinomorphically symmetric flowers of Snowdrops and Herb Robert – amongst a growing number of emerging wild flowers brightening up the forest floor and roadside verges

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It’s been superb to start seeing pairs of Great Crested Grebes performing their enchanting courtship dances on the nearby reservoirs, accompanied with echoing duet calls. I can’t wait for a calm, misty morning to try capturing this display
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The male sporophytes of many mossy clumps have sprouted up after a week or two of moist weather. The shape and colour of sporophyte tips (the capsule) can help differentiate one species from another in some instances 

The delicate, drooping clusters of Snowdrops have been sprouting up recently, particularly in and around campus. These ‘milk flowers’ (from their latin Galanthus binomial) are interspersed with the contrasting yellows and pinks of Primroses and Cyclamens

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These gorgeous little bursts of red have totally slipped my radar until this year – I had no idea that Hazel catkins (the male part of the tree distributing the pollen) were accompanied by these stunning little female flowers! These flowers, quite small protuberances from the buds, will eventually develop into the hazelnuts once fertilised by the catkin pollen

Scarlet Elfcups (Sarcoscypha coccinea) are particularly vivid in their abundance at the moment. Being a saprobic fungus, this attractive species can be found fruiting on decaying wood and branches on the damp forest floor

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A variety of insects have been appearing whenever the damp and breezy conditions abate. I was surprised to come across this lovely Bloody-nosed Beetle a few days ago creeping about the hedge
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Honeybees and at least four species of Bumblebees have been frequenting the Lesser Celandines, sparse patches of Heather and Gorse flowers on the warmer days. This worker was taking a little rest from the blustery windd
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It was brilliant to come across two Jumping Spider species within a gnat’s whisker of each other whilst rummaging around the undergrowth with fellow naturalist Will Hawkes on Friday. We recorded this smart Salticid – Salticus cingulatus – along with a stiking yellow-palped species called Heliophanus flavipes

Chiffchaffs are singing, the first Sand Martins and Wheatears have already hit the south coast, the dawn chorus grows ever stronger, and many species have already set about the task of constructing this year’s arboreal nests. Spring is certainly an exciting time of year – I can’t wait for my first Swallow!

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The monogamous and inquisitive Jackdaws are all paired up and beginning to show signs of nest building too. This pair were reaffirming pair bonds through mutual preening – a fun distraction from work as seen from my caravan window!
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This ’22 degree halo’ appeared briefly over Falmouth last week – a precursor to the inclement conditions we’re now experiencing! These halows are created by the refraction of light by millions of ice crystals in the  upper atmosphere, with a lower blanket of cirrostratus cloud giving the hazy appearance. It is these clouds that often form a few days before an approaching storm

I’ll try not to leave it another three weeks until the next post! Thanks for reading

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