DURING the coronavirus pandemic, maintaining a connection with the natural world is more important than ever to ensure we’re taking good care of our health and wellbeing, writes Mark Bosworth of the Bucks, Berks and Oxon Wildlife Trust.

As government restrictions on our movements provide less opportunity for us to go out to see nature, it is important to remember to look out for the nature that comes to us.

Spring is most definitely in the air and the natural world is beginning to put on its fascinating display for us all to enjoy.

If you’re an early riser or just struggling to stay asleep, crack open a window and immerse yourself in one of Britain’s great natural wonders, the dawn chorus. Listen out for your local robin, song thrush or blackbird singing from its favourite perch. With little other noise it’s a great opportunity to marvel at the complexities of their song. Although sounding joyful, birds do not sing for pleasure; it is a vital way for them to attract a mate and defend their territory.

The mornings are full of blackbirds searching for worms on the lawn, pied wagtails fielding insects from roofs, and chaffinches searching the boughs of trees.

On the trees, the leaf buds are being munched by newly-hatched caterpillars. The odd bee can be seen flying among the daffodils and daisies, small insects emerge from the pussy willows, and midges begin to dance in the shelter-belts.

Despite the goods on offer, the early days of spring can be a very difficult time for birds in the garden.

Stocks of food in the wider countryside have had all winter to decline, and are running very low.

Even though the insects are coming out again, it is not enough for seed-eating birds or for those that just need more to eat. The apparently relieving months of March and April are among the worst for supplying naturally what birds need so do make sure to keep your bird feeders topped up.

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You can get your bird food from Vine House Farm (online at https://www.vinehousefarm.co.uk)and help the Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust (BBOWT) at the same time.

Five per cent of every purchase made by a customer living in Oxfordshire is donated to BBOWT.

The flash of yellow as a brimstone butterfly flits about blossom-sprayed trees is surely one of the first heralds of spring.

Butterflies thrive in hot, sunny weather and reach their peak in summer. The many species found in Oxfordshire come in a dazzling array of colours, from the electric blue of Adonis blue, the checkerboard black and white of marbled white, to the bright orange of fritillaries.

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There are plenty of butterflies that we can welcome into the garden too; peacock butterflies, red admirals and small tortoiseshells being some of the more distinctive.

Wilder areas of taller grass and nettles will encourage them to move in, and don’t forget nectar-rich flowers such as buddleia.

Don’t forget to look up. In Oxfordshire you won’t have to wait long to see a red kite, circling gracefully on the currents searching for its next meal. The red kite’s unmistakable ‘mewing’ call and long, forked tail make it easy to tell apart from other birds of prey.

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This is the time when ponds are filling with frog and toad spawn and flower buds are beginning to burst to unleash their wonderful colours. Stopping to witness these natural spectacles can bring joy and help relieve stress.

We’ll keep sharing the sights and sounds of spring on our social media channels so please do send us your wildlife photos with the hashtag #EverydayWildlife.

We would love you to send them to The Oxford Mail too at tim.hughes@nqo.com, and the best will be printed.

We hope you’re staying safe and finding solace in the natural world at this difficult time.