The weather may still be wintery, but here’s how you can tell spring isn’t far off.
It feels like it’s been a long, cold, miserable winter, but don’t despair – blue skies and warmer days really are on the way.
Nature gives us all sorts of hints that seasons are changing, in the form of animal and plant behaviour. Here are five to look out for.
1. Flowering wattle
Australia’s national flower is blooming in parks, gardens and on roadsides. There are close to 1000 species of wattles, or acacias, in Australia making them the country’s most common flowering plants.
Some early blooming varieties have been covered in their trademark fluffy yellow blossoms since the beginning of August, and others will continue to flower throughout spring.
Wattles make beautiful garden plants, and come with the bonus of providing habitat and food for native birds, animals and insects. More than 100 species of wattle are native to South Australia – State Flora can help you choose the perfect one for your patch of paradise.
2. Nesting birds
Magpies are some of the most obvious nesters, with their territorial behaviour and love of parading around carrying nesting material like sticks and pet fur. The good news is that magpies only swoop for about six weeks, while their chicks are fledging. Check out our tips for surviving swooping season.
Birds like owls, tawny frogmouths and kookaburras, as well as parrots like cockatoos, rosellas and lorikeets, raise their young in tree hollows instead of making nests, so you may see some squabbling over prime sites.
Hollows are hard to come by, as they are only found in old trees, so the birds will thank you for installing a few nesting boxes around your garden. If you’d like more birds visiting your garden, take a look at our handy guide.
3. Wild flowers
Native orchids and other gorgeous wildflowers are starting to pop up in the state’s national parks. Whether it’s poached egg daisies and desert peas in the arid parks to the north, or donkey orchids and peach heath in the Adelaide Hills, every park has its own special species to look out for.
4. Bats on the wing
During winter, microbats go into a deep sleep known as torpor, and begin to wake as the weather warms. If you go camping, or you’re lucky enough to have bats in your garden or local park, listen for the chirping sounds some species make.
Bats make wonderful garden tenants, chomping through anything up to their own bodyweight in insects every night.
Large bats, like grey-headed flying foxes, do not sleep through winter, but they do become more active as the weather warms up, because their favourite fruits and flowers become more plentiful. Look out for them flying from their roost trees near the Adelaide Zoo at sunset.
(Image courtesy of Terry Reardon)
5. Reptiles emerging
Like microbats, the sleepy lizards, skinks, geckos and dragons that call our parks and gardens home are beginning to wake up from their winter sleep. As we get more sun, you’ll see them basking on flat rocks, concrete and sand. They are also fond of lying on the road, because bitumen holds heat so well, so keep an eye out for them when driving.
Snakes will also begin to wake soon, a prospect that many people do not relish. Keeping your yard clear of rubbish and overgrown grass is a good way to discourage them, as is controlling rats and mice, which are their favourite food.
Brush up on your knowledge now with these tips on keeping snakes away from your home, and what to do if you do find one.
Do you have any sure signs that spring is on its way? Let us know in the comments section below.
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