Late April and early May is the time when the forest eventually awakes from winter sleep. This is a fantastic moment! The forest is full of bird songs and everything shows, that annual cycle of life is starting again. In my last post, I wrote about April in the northern forest. First flowers of liverleaf and coltsfoot raised above dry grass. Usually, after the first heatwave colds come back for a while. First nights of May can be even frosty. Sometimes snow covers the ground, but then it melts very fast. Nothing can stop the spring. This is the best time for hiking in the forest. Sun is shining, no grass, no mosquitoes. Take your backpack, put essentials, wear good hiking shoes and get away to the forest!
Birds already started building nests. Ducks, geese, and blackbirds lay eggs even when the weather is cold. They do not have time to wait – the summer is short, but their offsprings must be able to fly back with first autumn colds. Whooper swans build a huge and high nest right in the water. Blackbirds, redwings and chaffinches make nests on trees. Some of them are happy to find a dry place under the roof of human buildings. Construction phase takes a couple of days and then the nest is ready. Many birds, such as chiffchaffs and warblers, make nests on the ground under roots or in ground holes. Common goldeneye ducks build nests in cavities in large trees, where they return year after year.
Every morning starts with a loud concert of blackbirds‘ choir. However, during the day they are too busy for singing. But other birds fill the forest with endless songs. Chaffinches and chiffchaffs, tits and kinglets, willow and wood warblers make the wonderful spring spirit. Blackbirds continue their melodies in evening. Sun goes down and only woodcocks fly over the trees and produce their whirring wing noise until deep twilights.
Trees still stay bare. First leaves appear on birdcherry and red currant, but the forest is still very light, covered with a beautiful carpet of spring flowers. White flowers and green leaves of windflower cover all the ground. Blue and purple flowers of liverleaf form flowerbeds. With bright yellow flowers of coltsfoot, they add vivid colors to spring picture. In wet places, you can find small yellow-green flowers of golden-saxifrage. White fluffy catkins on willow trees transformed to big yellow balls and attract first fuzzy bumblebees. They fly over the trees producing a loud buzz. Females of bumblebees have already built nests in ground holes and willow is the first feed they can find in the empty forest.
Usually, colds do not stay long. Sun is shining warmer and south wind brings the heat soon. This makes an explosive effect on nature. Thousands of windflowers appear everywhere in the forest. Small flowers and light green leaves of wood sorrel show up on dry leaves. A lot of butterflies fly out. Green hairstreaks and peacock butterflies flit over flowers and sit on the ground showing their colorful wings. Buds on birch and alder trees awake very fast and first green leaves appear soon. Fresh green shoots raise up from the dry grass and in few days lifeless glades become green covered with wide and bright leaves of lily of the valley. At the same time, leaves of blueberry unfold and make the forest greener than ever.
Ants do not sit at home anymore. Now you can meet them everywhere in the forest. Billions of ants explore every corner in search of food. When first birches leaf out, sap is leaking through the bark of the trunk. Thousands of red wood ants climb to the tree and collect the first harvest. Others continue construction works in their destroyed anthills, but now they avoid hot sun and work in the shadow.