There are signs of spring across the farm as February comes to an end. Spring bulbs in bloom, the first blossom on trees and songbirds among the still-bare branches. This month has seen Storm Doris and a real mix of weather including snow, hail, rain and bitterly low temperatures as well as bouts of warm sunshine.
Hatching is underway at Mudchute, with the first of Spring’s arrivals making their way into the world. We welcomed our first ducklings last week. The newly hatched ducklings include a mix of Aylesbury and Runner ducklings and will be joined by further ducklings and chicks over the coming weeks and months.
These precocious youngsters spend nearly a month developing in the egg and are capable of walking and feeding themselves shortly after breaking free of the egg. However, breaking the eggshell from within is hard work. Chicks and ducklings first begin with an “internal pip” internally breaking into the air sac a the wide end of the egg, taking their first breaths. They then break the egg shell (an “external pip”) before they begin to unzip the shell.
Watching the growth and development of the embryos is fascinating and we’ve shared some of the process previously here on the blog. We’re also happy to share the experience with local school groups who participate in our Hatch and Brood programme, where eggs are incubated right in the classroom. Good luck to all of our participating schools! To find out more about the programme including how your school can take part, please visit our Education pages.
The days are getting longer and Spring is just around the corner. As we get ready for a busy Spring on the farm there are lots of subtle signs that Winter is losing its hold. We’ve spotted the first snowdrops in our coppice and bulbs are starting to peek out across the farm. Even the first cherry buds are appearing. It won’t be long until the trees fill with blossoms and new leaves. But for now, the trees are largely bare and it makes for some fantastic opportunities to spot wild birds. At the moment there are large flocks of Redwing and Starlings across the farm. What are your favourite signs of Spring?