Spring is here! Why do we love it so much?

© Lianne de Mello

Spring is here! Though we may not be able to go out that much this spring, there is still a lot to look forward to about the season. The days are noticeably longer and warmer, flowers are brightening up our gardens, and we start to hear the buzz of insects around us again. And perhaps this is a blessed time to stay at home and finally do a thorough spring clean - the human equivalent of nesting.

Spring is here! Why do we love it so much?

Sometimes it feels like winter’s icy grip will stay with us forever. When you’re in the midst of the dark, wet, cold days of January and February, Christmas is forgotten and you leave for work in the dark (after de‐icing the car of course) and then come home in the dark; warmth and light seem a long way off. And yet here we are, on the cusp of spring, with warmth and light all around us. No wonder everyone loves the spring.

But why exactly do we love it? Sunshine and daylight play a huge part. Exposure to the extra sunlight increases levels of the hormone serotonin – the happy hormone – making you feel good. Furthermore, you may find you have more energy in the spring. This is because the extra sunlight decreases your levels of melatonin (the sleep chemical) during the day and increases it during the night, allowing you to get a sounder, more restful night’s rest.

Fishlake Meadows in summer

© Tony Wright

ladybird

Aside from that, what about the natural world? It only takes a walk out on the first warm sunny day of spring to make you realise how much you have missed the insects during the winter. Queen bumblebees make their first appearance on warm days in spring, having successfully survived the winter and now are desperately gorging on nectar and pollen from the early spring flowers. Other hibernators to look out for are the seven spot ladybird, emerging sleepily during March and the common bee fly, often seen hovering close to the ground like a flying ball of orange fluff.

Common blue butterflies mating

© Lianne de Mello

A closer look at your garden or in your local park may reward you with dung beetles emerging, as well as the bloody nose beetle. Butterflies will start to appear in greater numbers too, beginning with the brimstone – a bright yellow butterfly which can emerge very early (even as early as February on a warm day). Peacock butterflies will also come out and by April, we will see orange tip butterflies too.

Blue Tit © Ian Cameron-Reid

Blue Tit Perched on Log, Blashford Lakes, © Ian Cameron-Reid, 01/03/2009

And the birdsong is ramping up. The extra daylight affects the birds too – a chemical change takes place in their brains, releasing hormones which prepare them for breeding. This triggers a territorial response in the birds, meaning we are treated to the incredible sounds of the dawn chorus. The first bird to sing in the morning is usually the blackbird, followed closely by that ever‐singing favourite, the robin, then wrens, chaffinches, song thrushes, warblers and finches all join the party.
Interestingly, the exact same chemical change happens in people too – perhaps leading to the much loved “spring cleaning” tradition – the human equivalent of nesting.

So enjoy the birds, the insects, the light, warmth and colour of spring, clean down the barbecue, cut the grass and prepare yourselves for the long, glorious warmth of those lazy days of summer!

Jon Simmonds

Wilder Future team walking into sunset

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