Wildlife is a riot of colour in March

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WHAT’S wild with the Manx Wildlife Trust in March?

There is an awful lot happening in the natural world this month as spring is well on the way, with birds singing, hares boxing and a riot of colour in the woodlands.

Cooildarry Nature Reserve, near Kirk Michael, is a great place for a spring walk. Early flowers are in abundance, with pockets of primroses and golden celandines amongst white splashes of wood anemones and wood sorrel. Look really closely at the wood sorrel flower and you’ll notice the delicate veins of pink.

Many garden and woodland birds will be displaying and nesting.

Watching birds is also much easier at this time of year as the trees are not in full leaf. Get up early one morning and visit your local park, glen or nature reserve and listen to the dawn chorus. Blackbirds and thrushes are the first to sing, perched on top of a tree or rooftop. Great tits, blue tits, robins and wrens all take part too.

Some of our first summer visitors may have arrived, so listen out for the distinctive call of the chiffchaff, which is just a repeat of its own name. Fulmars will be paired up and on their nests on the cliff ledges at Glen Maye.

On a sunny day there is a good chance of seeing a peacock butterfly or a bumblebee fresh from hibernation and a visit to a local pond should reward you with masses of frogspawn.

On stubble fields, look for hares boxing. This usually happens when the larger female has got fed up with the attentions of a very persistent male!

If you want to see cetaceans, then take a walk along Marine Drive and look for Risso’s dolphins. These dolphins are identified by a blunt head and often visible scarring.

March is a good time to go beachcombing following high spring tides and no doubt the odd storm.

Common things to look for include mermaid’s purses, clutches of whelk egg cases and a wide variety of shells.

The spring equinox also produces some very low tides, exposing marine creatures you may not have seen before, so go rockpooling. Take care of yourselves when rockpooling, handle the creatures carefully, look and then leave them be and always check the tide tables and weather forecast. Don’t forget to wrap up warm too.

Meanwhile, on the Trust’s reserves, work is under way preparing for the summer.

Winter grazing of the wildflower-rich meadows of Close Sartfield came to an end of January, whilst the sheep on Goshen enjoyed the meadows up to the end of February. The volunteers have been hard at work clearing ditches and fence-lines on the Curragh reserves and head off to Glen Dhoo in March to continue the gorse clearance and tree planting. Cooildarry will also see the volunteers clearing rhododendrons and planting trees.

On Thursday, March 24, you can listen to local film-maker Steve Wright give a talk and illustrate the making of his DVD Wild Mann – Seasons. It features dolphins, whales, sharks and wild wallabies. This takes place at the Centenary Centre, Peel, starting at 7.30pm. Entry costs £3 including refreshments.

More information about the Manx Wildlife Trust can be found on our website www.manxwt.org.uk

For those whale watchers out there, more information is available at www.mwdw.net

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