Spring marks the start of the survey season for many ecologists. Many species will soon come out of hibernation, finish migration and start emergence, and fresh buds will bloom.

Pond at Roadford

Many surveys are planned for the spring and summer season across many SSSI sites in Devon and Cornwall which include: birds, invertebrates, fish, reptiles, plants, amphibians and mammals. These surveys will be completed by different groups, some by myself and volunteers and some by specialists. More blogs will follow once these surveys have been completed to share our new findings and hopefully a larger species list!

Aside from planning surveys, I have been on site over the last few weeks and I have seen many signs of spring! On 22/02/2019 I saw my first bumblebee of the season at Roadford, acting very drowsily on the grass.

I also spotted a Peacock butterfly which was laying with its wings spread, probably drying out. It was spread on a small rock until I went to take a quick photo, and it almost immediately closed its wings. This process of drying out needs to happen before butterflies can take flight, so it is important not to touch or disturb them at this time of year when they may appear lifeless.

Later at Roadford (19/03/2019), I spotted four Brimstone butterflies flying along rides and scrubby vegetation. On this day, I also heard Chiffchaffs in the broadleaved woodlands. These birds spend their winters in the Mediterranean and Western Africa and migrate here for the summer. These small warblers will sing relentlessly all spring and are easy to recognise as their call sounds like their name ‘chiff chaff chiff chaff chiff chaff’.

I spotted my first lot of frogspawn on Crowdy marsh on 26/02/2019 and toad spawn later at Roadford on 20/03/2019. I also saw some tadpoles on 19/03/2019 – there must have been at least 200 at Roadford swimming along a shallow ditch. The Freshwater Habitats Trust have a fascinating spawn survey map which shows all of the recordings for toad and frogspawn in the UK.

Willow buds were flourishing at Crowdy on 06/03/2019, near a conifer plantation. I also spotted wood sorrel and dog’s mercury in flower and lots of bluebell shoots, all at Roadford on 20/03/2019.


There have been lots of new sightings at Longham Lake, Dorset, such as sand martins, great egrets, fieldfares and Redwings. Please click here for more information about Dominic Couzens, Longham Lake and events.

I look forward to more exciting sightings at our beautiful lakes and starting the survey season. If you have any questions about these surveys or indeed any sightings of your own, please let me know by email.

Emma Scotney
[email protected]