The lockdown is continuing and the Government is asking us to stay indoors a bit longer to save lives and protect the NHS. To help you enjoy nature from your own homes, we thought we would bring the sights and sounds of Spring on Cannock Chase to you! We asked one local resident living on the Chase to share with us the wildlife that is returning to its forests and heaths.

An early morning doorstep walk on the Chase

An early Spring morning; chill, but a low bright sun sparkling through trees gives promise of a warm day to come. Hawthorn and Birch have sprung into leaf, and the gorse is in full flower, the bright green and yellow a welcome relief from the brown drab of winter. The silence that has pervaded the Chase over the last months is no more.

Song Thrushes, Blackbirds and Chaffinches proclaim loudly, interspersed with the more subtle and fluid notes of the Robin and the liquid waterfall song of the Willow Warbler. Standing still I can also hear the the beautiful strident song of the Blackcap, while numerous Tits and the metronome of the Chiffchaff, now eclipsed by their lookalike cousins the Willow Warbler, add to the orchestra. Spring has arrived with a sudden rush of exuberance this year.

The chiffchaff (above) and willow warbler (below) are best told apart by their song!

A stroll down the hill through Brocton Coppice, where the ancient oaks are just beginning to spring into life, reveals a Redstart, as usual proclaiming from the tree top, bright handsome plumage striking against the blue sky. A male Mandarin Duck sitting on a horizontal branch several metres above the ground is a strange but welcome sight. These naturalised immigrants nest in tree holes, often some distance from water, and it seems they are now adding a touch of the exotic to our local patch.

On the heath and in the valleys Tree Pipits parachute gracefully, singing as they tumble, while skylarks hang high overhead, their liquid notes floating on the breeze. Fallow Deer are everywhere, seemingly enjoying the peace of an empty Chase, the females fat with the promise of new life. At our feet Peacock Butterflies race past, and Green Hairstreaks flit among the Bilberry and Gorse. An occasional Brimstone floats past, while in woodland glades a lone Speckled Wood chases off all comers, defending his patch.

Speckled wood butterflies aggressively protect their patch

A Cuckoo echoes his call, elusive as ever, safely arrived back from sub-Saharan Africa.

Spring has truly sprung.

Please remember what you need to do during the Coronavirus crisis – ‘Stay at Home. Protect the NHS. Save Lives’.