SPRING, in all its exciting, bustling glory, is just around the corner, and we at the Wildlife Trusts are delighted to see the calling cards of a brand new season.

Here are a few signs of spring that you may have noticed in your local area…

Daffodils blooming

A golden host of daffodils is enough to brighten up the gloomiest of spring days. In early spring head to the few remaining woods and meadows where daffodils grow in wild profusion.

Much more delicate and understated than their brash, cultivated cousins, these wild flowers are the forgotten champions of a woodland in spring. They’re also known as the Lent lily, since they often bloom over the Lent period.

Hares boxing

Early spring is the best time to see the fastest land mammal in the country, the brown hare. Reaching speeds of 40 miles per hour at full pelt, the brown hare is one of our great athletes, easily able to outpace Usain Bolt. The brown hare’s great speed can make it a tricky character to get a good look at.

Luckily, “mad March hares” choose a different sport in the spring, taking up boxing instead of sprinting. The pugilists are actually the females, spurning the advances of amorous males by boxing their prospective partners. With their activity much more noticeable before the grass and crops have grown up to their full height, it is not surprising that the “mad March hare” has come to have such a strong connection with the spring.

Woodpeckers drumming

In the bare branches of our woodlands, woodpeckers are drumming - beating out the rhythm of the season. Both male and female woodpeckers ‘drum’, although the male definitely puts more into it, advertising for a mate and proclaiming his territory by hammering away at his favourite branch in bursts of up to 20 times per second with a force four times as strong as that of a football being kicked by Wayne Rooney.

The bones of the woodpecker’s skull have evolved a durable combination of spongy ‘shock absorbers’ and a specially-adapted tongue bone that acts as a ‘seat belt’, holding the brain tightly in place.

Frogspawn being laid

We’ve already seen plenty of frogspawn laid in ponds, ditches and slow moving streams. Female frogs lay thousands of eggs each year, but it’s a numbers game as only a select few survive to adulthood.

Look out for clumps of jelly with black spots. If there are long chains like strings of pearls draped over underwater pond plants, you have a toad on your hands!

For more information, visit www.hiwwt.org.uk