Spring explodes into a vibrant spectacle across the UK and Europe in May. But beyond the obvious blooms and buzzing bees, you can find a hidden world of fascinating changes waiting to be discovered by curious kids! This month provides the perfect opportunity to transform your backyard or local park into a captivating classroom, fostering a love for nature and its incredible secrets.

Nature’s Hidden Gems:

  • Leaf Peep Like a Pro:
  • New leaves aren’t just green; look for subtle variations! Beech leaves emerge with a reddish tinge, while oak leaves boast a crinkled texture. Encourage your child to feel the different textures and identify leaf shapes – a fun way to learn tree species.
  • Spider Sense: Cobwebs become glistening with morning dew, transforming into miniature jewel-encrusted kingdoms. Explain how spiders use these webs to catch their prey, sparking discussions about food chains and adaptations.
  • Nighttime Symphony: As evenings lengthen, listen for the haunting call of the tawny owl. These nocturnal predators become more active in May, searching for food. Play detective – can you spot their perfectly camouflaged feathers against the bark?

Wildlife Whispers:

  • Beetle Bonanza: May is peak season for the spectacular stag beetle, the largest insect found in the UK and Europe. Males boast impressive antlers, which they use in battles for territory and mates. Keep an eye out for these impressive giants under logs and stones (remember to observe from a safe distance!).
  • Froggy Chorus: Ponds come alive with the croaking of frogs. Did you know male frogs have inflatable vocal sacs that expand dramatically when they call? Listen closely to identify different frog species based on their unique croaks.
  • Hedgehog Highway: As hedgehog mothers search for food to nourish their young, they create well-worn paths through gardens and hedgerows. Indeed, we should help protect these spiky gardeners by creating a “hedgehog highway” – a small gap in your fence that allows them safe passage.

Busy Bodies in the Undergrowth:

  • Badger Builders: May is a busy time for badgers! While they may not be as readily seen during the day, badger families are busy enlarging their sett (underground burrow). Look for fresh mounds of earth near the sett entrance – a sign of their digging activity.
  • Mummy on the Move: For many small mammal species like voles and field mice, May is prime breeding time. Keep an eye out for females scurrying about, gathering nesting materials, and preparing for the arrival of their young.
  • Secret Snackers: Shrewd foxes become particularly active at dusk and dawn in May. They’re on the hunt for easy meals, such as young rabbits or unsuspecting earthworms venturing out after rain. See if you can spot their distinctive footprints in muddy areas. We have some living at the bottom of our garden, they like to play with old tennis balls or gardening gloves!

May Marvels in the Night Sky:

  • Batty about May: By the middle of May, when warmer temperatures are consistent, all bats will have come out of hibernation and be fully active in the UK and Europe! These fascinating nocturnal mammals emerge from hibernation, eager to feast on the abundance of insects. Listen for their high-pitched squeaks at dusk as they use echolocation to hunt.
  • Look for bats flitting around hedgerows, attracted to the abundance of flying insects. Download a bat identification app to help you identify the different species in your area.
  • Did you know? Bats are the only mammals that can truly fly!

Unforgettable Nature Journaling:

  • Nature Detective Kit: Instead of a regular notebook, transform a shoebox into a “Nature Detective Kit”. Fill it with colourful construction paper, magnifying glasses, and small containers for collecting interesting finds like feathers or unusual leaves.
  • Track a Tiny Dancer: Focus on a single flower and observe it throughout the month. Sketch its colour changes, document the arrival of pollinators like bees or butterflies, and discuss the importance of these partnerships for plant reproduction.
  • Night Sky Marvels: May evenings offer longer stretches of darkness, perfect for stargazing. Download a stargazing app and identify constellations together. Did you know the constellation Taurus, the bull, is visible in May and contains the Pleiades star cluster, also known as the Seven Sisters?

Celebrate Nature with Special Days:

  • No Mow May: Did you know that May is also No Mow May in many parts of the UK and Europe? This initiative encourages people to leave their lawns uncut for the month. This allows wildflowers to flourish, providing vital food sources for pollinators like bees and butterflies.
  • International Dawn Chorus Day: Lastly, mark your calendars for International Dawn Chorus Day, on May 5th! It’s a worldwide celebration of nature’s greatest symphony. And, all across the world, people rise early to revel in the sweet sound of birdsong, from rattling wrens in Rotherham to crooning cowbirds in the Caribbean. So, this is the perfect opportunity to get up early, listen to the beautiful symphony of birdsong, and appreciate the vibrant awakening of nature.


Rockford’s Rock Opera: Your Nature Audio Guide:

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.

May is a treasure trove of hidden wonders waiting to be discovered. By embracing these little details, you’ll not only create lasting memories with your child, but also inspire a lifelong appreciation for the intricate dance of life happening all around us!