May in the Valley
Spring is now already well advanced and May will continue to be a busy month with wildlife activity everywhere. Even if you spent all day every day outdoors this month you would still miss something as there is so much going on. May is the month the dawn chorus reaches its peak, fledglings are testing their flight feathers, insects are on the move, the ponds and lakes are coming alive and flowers are bursting into bloom. May is really a magical month and will pass too quickly, so make the most of it and get out into the Valley.
You can’t help but see the frothy white umbels of Cow Parsley lining the road verges and pathways and the mass of Hawthorn blossom (pictured right) lining the many hedgerows. In addition this month start looking out for orchids, these exquisite yet elusive plants should come into flower over the next few weeks attracting all sorts of insects. Pyramidal, Bee, Common Spotted and Green Winged are just some of the varieties found in the Valley.
Keep an eye out for Swallows (pictured right), Swifts and Martins that continue to arrive from Africa in large and often mixed flocks. They can be seen over the lakes, feeding on insects, refueling for the next stage of their journey north.
Native ducks and geese are among the first to breed and their young are easily watched on the river and lakes. Look out for Mallards and Egyptian Geese seen with their young.
Woodland rides and glades act as sun traps and with the temperatures rising they are good places to watch many of the butterflies that are flying now. Look for Small Coppers (pictured), Peacocks, Small Tortoiseshells and Orange Tips.
Increasing numbers of flying insects provide a feast for bats. Watch Water Bats - also known as Daubenton’s - feed on mayflies, skimming the surface of the Valleys’ many lakes and ponds at dusk and after dark. Lakeside Nature Reserve is well worth a visit.