Increasing day length brings many birds into breeding condition, and the males start to proclaim their territorial rights. The full song of the blackbird, heard late February is a sure sign that pairs are being formed. In fact there is an old country belief that birds choose their mates on St Valentines Day! Ravens breed very early and even start nesting this month. Flocks of migrant redwings and starlings can still be seen at the moment before their return to summer breeding grounds.
Berry supplies are getting low, and many birds must compete to obtain enough food. Fortunately the nutritious black berries of the Ivy plant provide a much needed source of food at this time of year.
Most trees will still be bare in this month, but if you look closely you will see quite a few trees like the horse chestnut, beech and elder are starting to bud and some trees like the hazel and the yew are starting to blossom. For more information on the trees of the Downs, pick up a copy of the ‘Downs Tree trail’ leaflet from the café next to the Water Tower.
Photographs © Bengt Nyman, Ray Coterell, Rob Cross