EASTER being a symbol of new birth, spring is really under way and the natural world is busy with fresh beginnings.

Many birds are nesting and already some young have fledged, notable among them being Egyptian geese, very early breeders. Mallard, too, have produced sizeable broods busily following their mothers as they paddle furiously across the water to keep up.

Nature Notes: Butterflies have much to contend with

Coarse fish are spawning and large female pike can be seen cruising around lake margins, pursued by the smaller males, or 'jacks' as eggs are scattered among water plants, while sticklebacks are building barrel-shaped nests into which they entice females to spawn. Frog tadpoles now swim freely, having vacated their jelly masses.

Stinging nettles are growing rapidly, attracting small tortoiseshell and peacock butterflies to lay large batches of eggs on sunny days. Easter bunnies (pictured) can be seen feeding in sheltered grassland while at night, yelping fox cubs are heard as their parents teach them hunting skills.

Nature Notes: Beautiful blossom benefits bees

Many years ago, hot cross buns could be purchased only at Easter but now we can enjoy them all year round and my chocolate Easter egg certainly was all that it was cracked up to be!

So, the next few weeks can indeed be a hectic and exhausting time for birds and animals as they tend their young.