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Peacock butterfly
Look out for peacock butterflies

Has spring sprung in Somerset?

Chris Ellis
The BBC's Springwatch 2006 is well underway, but has spring sprung in the county? Armed with wellie boots and binoculars, BBC Somerset's Chris Ellis flew off in search of the first signs.

Vic Verrier
Vic Verrier

It's that time of year again, when the days begin to lengthen, and wildlife begins to emerge - the cold, dark winter months are finally over.

I spoke with BBC Somerset's Sounds gardening expert Vic Verrier (aka God of the Garden) about what to expect for spring in Somerset this year.

You can listen to my interview with him by clicking on this link:

audio Vic Verrier on Springwatch >
Audio and Video links on this page require Realplayer

"This year, plants are appearing much later in the county, due to the late spring," Vic told me.

"Common primrose, for example, normally flowers in February, but this year a vast quantity flowered in mid-April, as it's been so much colder."

Early and late spring plants may flower at similar times to each other this year, and because of the prolonged frost in the county, the amount of frog spawn could be affected too.

Spring wildlife in Somerset

Hopefully, as the season progresses, it should become clear whether wildlife has been affected by all of this.

Jenni Weaver
Jenni Weaver

In contrast to 2006, last year's spring was warm - migrating birds such as swifts arrived about a week earlier than in recent warm years.

Meeting Somerset Wildlife Trust's Jenni Weaver at Langford Heathfield Nature Reserve, I asked her about the importance of spring timing for migrant birds.

"The swifts migrate to Africa for our winter, where they feed on the insect boom which occurs in the rainy season," she said.

"They then reach the UK for the insect peak in the beginning of spring.''

To listen to the interview, and hear what she has to say about Springwatch 2006 in Somerset, click on this audio link:

audio Jenni Weaver on Springwatch >
Audio and Video links on this page require Realplayer

Star of Buffy, Little Britain and Doctor Who, Anthony Head explained to BBC Points West why he made his home near Bath, and how he and his partner are looking after an orphaned fox cub:

video Anthony Head on Springwatch >
Audio and Video links on this page require Realplayer

Springwatch 2006

Once again, BBC Springwatch is asking you to record your first sightings of a select bunch of spring creatures:

  • frog spawn
  • seven-spotted ladybirds
  • red-tailed bumblebees
  • peacock butterflies
  • flowering hawthorn
  • swifts

Many of the species featured in the survey could be present in your garden. If they aren't, there are several easy steps you can take to help encourage them.

Seven-spotted ladybirds
Seven-spotted ladybirds

Buddleia will attract most butterflies, and organic gardening can encourage ladybirds, which will then help to control aphids. 

Annuals including limnanthes (poached egg plant) are bright yellow, and are great for attracting bees.

To see how the county's, and country's, wildlife has fared, and to find out about the BBC TWO programmes, follow the link to the main Springwatch site on the right.

On BBC Somerset Sound, there was a live Springwatch broadcast from Secret World in East Huntspill on Monday 29 May.

Adam Thomas was at the animal sanctuary, and was live on air between 2 and 4pm.

The BBC is putting on a Springwatch family fun weekend at the Festival of Nature in Bristol on 3 and 4 June.

There'll be loads of free, hands-on activities with a nature theme. If you want to find out more about the event, call 08000 560 190 or follow the Festival of Nature link on the right.

last updated: 02/06/06
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