The nights are getting lighter and signs of spring seem to be on everyone’s mind this month. To celebrate here’s a collection of some of the great wildlife you can see in Scotland in March.
What to see in Scotland this month III
Puffin, Dean Bricknell
Signs of spring – that’s what everyone’s talking about this month. And indeed there have been plenty so far, from garden flowers, bees, and ladybirds to frog spawn appearing in our ponds and lochs.
I’m not convinced we’re completely free from winter’s grasp just yet, especially after being caught in a pretty strong snow shower just a few days ago, but we’re certainly on our way. Scotland always has great wildlife to see, snap, and share but there are a few things in particular we think you should look out for this month.
The first is the Slavonian grebe; a beautiful little bird with striking golden ear tufts when in breeding plumage. This species arrives back in Scotland in March and stays until late summer, with the best place to see them being RSPB Scotland’s Loch Ruthven nature reserve in the Highlands. Slavonian grebes are excellent swimmers and divers and have been known to stay underwater for a minute or more!
These birds also have a really interesting courtship display known as a ‘weed rush’. Both birds will dive underwater to collect weeds in their bills before resurfacing face to face. At this point they quickly turn away from each other and rush off across the water, side by side, with the weeds still dangling from their bills.
Puffin with sandeels, Andy Hay
Another bird species you can see this month is the much loved puffin. With their small rounded forms and brightly coloured beaks they’re definitely a firm favourite in Scotland. Puffins start returning to their colonies in March and breed widely around the coast of Scotland on cliffs and islands, including in the Firth of Forth - on the Isle of May and Bass Rock.
Puffins usually nest in burrows - digging out a hollow that’s slightly longer than a person’s arm with their pickaxe-like bills, but they can also settle in cracks on cliffs or under rocks.
In March, you might also be lucky enough to spot a bat, or at least signs of them, as they begin to emerge from hibernation. There are more than 1,100 species of bat in the world, but there are only around ten breeding species found in Scotland, mainly in the south and west.
Pipistrelles are our most common and widespread bats and so are the most likely ones you’ll see. Common pipistrelle and soprano pipistrelle bats fly in fast jerky patterns to pursue insects and a single individual can catch and consume up to 3,000 insects in one night!
Bluebells at RSPB Scotland's Wood of Cree reserve, Andy Hay
Finally spring is a great time of year to look out for wildflowers. Plenty of you have been sending us photos of snowdrops this year and soon it will be time for beautiful carpets of bluebells appearing too.
If you want to share some lovely spring time photos with us, post them on our RSPB Scotland Facebook or Twitter pages and we’ll be back with a new ‘what to see’ blog in April.