Over the past week there has been a battle raging on Baronsdown.

Not a battle between two majestic stags, as we might witness during the autumn rut, but a much greater battle between two forces of nature, winter and spring. Spring, full of youthful vigour, vitality and enthusiasm has been trying to forcefully oust winter, old, gnarled and doggedly hanging on. Temperatures remaining at freezing point or just above have been unable to prevent spring starting its inevitable progress, with drifts of snowdrops bursting into flower and ponds suddenly bulging with masses of frogspawn. The amazing thing is that there must be hundreds of adult frogs around the sanctuary, as this phenomenon occurs every year, and yet we rarely see one. By the same token I have never seen an elf on Baronsdown and yet there are thousands of scarlet elf cups scattered around in the woods.

Snowdrops in Baronsdown wildlife sanctuary

The coats of the Red Deer that live on Baronsdown reflect the dark and dreary winter days too, but soon they will shed these in favour of rich, red coats as winter slips seamlessly into spring.

Flocks of Starlings, Redwings and Fieldfares continue roving through the fields and woodlands of Baronsdown and there seems to have been an unusually high number of Woodcock this winter, despite their numbers generally being in freefall. Soon some unknown trigger will force all these birds to start heading back to northern and eastern Europe, untroubled by human geopolitical barriers. The RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch gave me an excuse to sit down in my kitchen for an hour to watch the birds visiting the feeders outside my window on Baronsdown. The variety of species (15) and the number of individuals of each species (up to 13) was quite astonishing, even though I see the feeders in passing every day. This type of ‘citizen science’ helps us to better understand what is happening to our wildlife and there will be opportunities for the League supporters to help with some citizen science research in the near future.

Frogspawn in Baronsdown wildlife sanctuary