The Nature Sketchbook: March

Round & About

Artist Helen Grimbleby shares her love of the natural world through her work in a monthly series of observations

March many weathers is here. Although, the first month of meteorological spring, March is such an unresolved month, sometimes clinging on to freezing conditions and snow, unsure whether or when to allow the slow warm fingers of spring to get a hold.

It is nevertheless a joyful month with spring flowers ignoring the meteorological hesitancy, harnessing the sunshine to bring us verges of yellow primroses, cowslips, celandines, dandelions and narcissi/daffodils.

Where there are flowers, there are usually butterflies. In March we begin to see them emerge and arrive. Red admiral butterflies typically migrated from North Africa and were seen from spring onwards. In 2023, there was a 400% increase in their UK population. Experts suggest this may be due to the species now overwintering here rather than migrating due to warmer temperatures resulting from climate change.

Many of our early spring flowers are yellow as early pollinators, mainly insects, are attracted to the colour which appears as ultra-violet blue to them.

And it is attraction which brings us to the final association with March, and idiomatic mad hares. I have seen hares in West Berkshire but not engaged in the boxing behaviour which inspired the phrase. This is a tale of unrequited ardour with male buck hares pursuing female doe hares in the hope of mating and then, it seems, taking it too far. The unimpressed doe will demonstrate her lack of interest in dramatic fashion by turning on the buck and thumping him, initiating the boxing when fur may fly!

Helen Grimbleby is a West Berks/North Hants based artist who is inspired by the natural world’s changing seasons. After exploring outside, she enjoys writing and illustrating her Nature Sketchbook and painting larger landscapes at her home studio (@burbleartstudios).