April marks a period of vibrant transformation in the UK and the entire Northern Hemisphere. As the Earth’s tilt ushers in longer days and warmer temperatures, nature awakens from its winter slumber, bursting forth with renewed energy. This month offers a captivating display of changes in both the plant and animal kingdoms, along with intriguing celestial events to observe.

Intriguing Celestial Events in April 2024:

  • Full Pink Moon: Mark your calendars for the Full Pink Moon on April 19th, 2024 – the first full moon following the spring equinox. This celestial event derives its name from the early blooms of wildflowers that coincide with its appearance.
  • Lyrid Meteor Shower: While not the strongest shower, the Lyrids peak around April 22nd (rises before midnight, highest in the sky at dawn). It’s a chance to spot shooting stars streaking across the night sky under optimal viewing conditions (away from city lights).

Spring in Your Garden and in Parks:

  • Blooming Beauties: Brace yourself for a breathtaking display of flowers in your gardens and local parks. April welcomes a vibrant explosion of colour with daffodils, their cheerful yellow trumpets heralding the arrival of spring. Look out for vibrant carpets of bluebells blanketing woodlands, and the delicate fragrance of hyacinths filling the air. Early tulips, in a kaleidoscope of hues, add a touch of elegance to gardens and flower beds.
  • Trees Come Alive: Witness the gradual transformation of trees as bare branches transform into a verdant canopy. Leaves unfurl in vibrant shades of green. Some species, like oak and beech, sport distinctive reddish-tinged foliage as they emerge. This process of leaf production, known as phenology, is a fascinating indicator of the changing seasons.

Avian Chorus:

The skies come alive with the melodic songs of birds returning from their winter migrations. Keep an eye (and ear) out for robins, their red breasts make a bold statement against the fresh green foliage. Blackbirds serenade from rooftops with their rich, fluting calls, while swallows and swifts perform acrobatic displays as they hunt for insects on the wing. Listen to the rhythmic drumming of woodpeckers as they search for grubs hidden beneath the bark of trees.

Mammals on the Move:

Hedgehogs and ground squirrels emerge from their winter dens, blinking in the sunlight and searching for food. Look out for playful rabbits frolicking in meadows, their twitching noses searching for clover and dandelions. Inquisitive foxes, their winter coats turning a rustier shade, become more active at dusk as they hunt for prey. So, don’t be surprised to see deer herds emerging from the woodlands, their fawns taking their first tentative steps into the world.

New Arrivals to Watch Out For:

  • Newborn Arrivals: April welcomes the arrival of adorable baby animals. Look out for fluffy ducklings and goslings taking their first dips in ponds. Spot their yellow down, contrasting beautifully with the vibrant green reeds. Watch for playful fox kits exploring their surroundings under the watchful eye of their parents (vixens).
  • Ladybird Larvae on the Hunt: While adult ladybirds are a familiar sight, April is a good time to spot their less conspicuous larvae. These orange and black spotted creatures are voracious predators of aphids, helping to keep gardens free of these plant-sucking pests.

Time to wake up:

  • Adder Emergence: Keep an eye out for the UK’s only venomous snake, the adder. They can be seen basking on sunny rocks and heathland after emerging from their winter hibernation. These shy reptiles are best observed from a safe distance, and their distinctive zigzag pattern along their backs is a clear identification feature.
  • Amphibian Activity: As ponds and puddles come alive with renewed life, witness frogs and toads emerging from hibernation. Listen for their distinctive croaking calls, especially during rainy nights. This amphibian chorus is a vital part of the ecosystem, attracting insect prey and signalling the start of the breeding season. Look out for frogs with inflatable throat sacs and toads with bumpy skin, both busily searching for mates amongst the reeds.

Nighttime comes alive with the return of the bats:

In April, many bat species in the UK, including the common pipistrelle, come out of hibernation. Watch for them flitting through the night sky, especially on warmer evenings. While they can be seen feeding most spring nights, particularly cold snaps can trigger a temporary return to a hibernation-like state. By May, bats should be fully active, with females forming maternity colonies and seeking nursery sites. So next time you’re out at night, look and listen—you might just spot one of the UK’s 18 bat species!

Sleepy Dormice:

Keep an eye out for the adorable hazel dormice, emerging from their winter slumber around this time. These fascinating creatures can lower their body temperature and become torpid, a special sleep state that conserves energy during harsh weather or scarce food. In fact, dormice might spend a whopping three-quarters of the year in this “sleep” state! Don’t be fooled by their leaf-like tails, though, dormice aren’t herbivores. They’re actually successional feeders, enjoying a varied diet that changes with the seasons. In spring, look for them feasting on willow catkins, and the delicate flowers of oak, hawthorn, sycamore, and willow.

Butterfly Bonanza:

As flowers bloom in abundance, April welcomes a dazzling display of butterflies. Look out for the vibrant orange tips, the first butterflies to emerge from their chrysalises after winter, as well as common blues, speckled woods, and peacocks flitting amongst the flowers.


Get Involved: Citizen Science and Earth Day

  • City Nature Challenge: Embrace your inner scientist and participate in the Natural History Museum’s City Nature Challenge! This nationwide initiative (April 29th–May 10th) encourages everyone to observe and record wildlife sightings in their local area using a free app. It’s a fantastic way to contribute valuable data to scientific research while exploring the wonders of urban nature. So, who knows, you might even discover a rare species in your own backyard!
  • Celebrate Earth Day: Mark your calendars for Earth Day on April 22nd, a global event dedicated to raising awareness about environmental issues. Get involved in local clean-up initiatives, plant a tree in your garden (native species are best!), or simply make a conscious effort to reduce your carbon footprint. Every action counts toward protecting our planet for future generations.

“Stories, Science, and Secrets”

April is a month brimming with life, reminding us of nature’s remarkable capacity for renewal. So get outside, explore the changing world around you, and witness the wonders of spring first-hand.

For even more exploration of the natural world, tune in to the “Stories, Science, and Secrets” podcast: here . So, join us as we delve into the fascinating world of biomimicry and the inspiring ways science learns from nature’s genius.

Happy Spring!