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Seasons at Cosmeston

With every season that passes the coast and countryside has plenty to offer like, spotting mammals or birds, dragonflies or orchids – no matter what your interest there is always something to be found.


Great Crested Grebe in the water with a chick on her backSpring: March, April and May

Spring is probably the most exciting of the four seasons after the cold of winter, the Country Park bursts into life. Flowers stud the meadows with butterflies like the orange tip and a whole host of insects being attracted to the smells and colours as they begin to appear. 


On a walk through the woods you will see dog violets, blue bells and the clear white flowers of ramsons.  The approaching songs of summer can be heard as the visiting blackcaps and chiffchaffs start to arrive. 


Look in the ditches and ponds and you may see jelly-like patches and strings of frog and toad spawn, these will see thousands of tadpoles emerge later in the Spring.


Courtship displays of the swan and great crested grebe can be seen, look out for pairs of grebes ‘head shaking’ and performing a graceful watery courtship ‘dance’.


Millions of migrant birds arrive, with chiffchaffs, sand martins and wheatears amongst the first to appear in March and swallows, swifts, cuckoos, nightingales and many warblers in April and May. 


This season is a time of days getting longer and the spring sunshine bringing growth and greenery everywhere with buds bursting and leaves unfolding.

Swan on the water with her nine cygnets following

Summer: June, July and August

Summer is the warmest of our four seasons and a great time to look for butterflies and plants. The meadows will be in full flower to include some impressive species of orchids such as butterfly and pyramidal, these along with other flowers attract a whole host of associated wildlife.  It’s not just the meadows; flowering aquatic plants such as water lily, yellow flag iris and marsh marigold can also be seen near the lakes, ponds and ditches.


Clouds of butterflies like common blues, peacock, tortoise shell and red admiral can all be seen. Dragon and damselflies will be busy along the waters edge chasing and darting through the reed beds hunting their prey or resting on the sun warmed planks along the boardwalk.


With 16 different species found at cosmeston you are sure to spot an Emperor or common Darter dragonfly or common blue or blue tailed damselfly. The woodland is in full leaf and an ideal place to seek shade from the sun and maybe spot a purple hairstreak or speckled wood butterfly.


This time of year birds are active long into the evening looking for food to feed their young whilst ducklings and cygnets will be following their parents and exploring the lakes. The warm shallows of the lake will also attract some of the many fish to be found in the lakes to include; eels, roach, rudd, bream, and carp.

A squirrel up a tree with an acorn in his mouthAutumn: September, October and November

Autumn brings with it spectacular changes, leaves turn to red and gold, the air is chillier and many of the familiar birds of summer start to leave for their winter migration.


This is the last opportunity before the cold weather sets in for many birds, voles and mice to feast on the rich pickings of hawthorn and blackthorn berries amongst other fruits, seeds and nuts which can now be found in the hedges and woodland.


Squirrels are also busy this time of year collecting as much food as possible to store away for the winter months.


Autumn sees strange fungi appear, lured by the new dampness of the air, parasol and bracket fungi can all be found by the sharp eyed visitor.


You will often hear the robin typically seen in autumn and winter warbling and chirping as, unlike some birds, they sing all year round. 


Small birds will be busy taking advantage of the plentiful food supply to build up fat reserves before the harsh winter months arrive.

Swans and ducks stood in line in the snow feeding on corn

Winter: December, January and February

With harsher weather conditions and colder temperatures winter will see deciduous trees stripped of their leaves and spider webs are turned to ice. Days are short and for many creatures, especially small birds, finding enough food to survive takes up almost every hour of daylight. Frost and snow can make it very difficult for many animals to find food. 


For those creatures who have not headed off for warmer climbs or for those who have not gone into hibernation the challenge is on to survive until spring. Each winter the lakes attract flocks of migratory wildfowl many of which will have travelled over 1,000 miles to spend the winter at cosmeston.


Mute swans, mallards and coots are resident all year round on the east lake while the west lake attracts large numbers of whistling teal, tufted, pochard and shoveler ducks and one of the star bird attractions, the bittern. Other winter visitors to look for include redwings, fieldfares and in some years waxwings. 


Quite often, during the winter, parts or even all of the lakes will completely freeze over making it impossible for swans and ducks to feed.  This can lead to one of the very rare occasions that the rangers have to cater for them with several sacks of corn.