Springtime is a wonderful time to visit Westport. The days are getting longer, the skies are growing brighter and the countryside is heaving with new life. The weather might be a tad on the unpredictable side, with sunshine switching to sudden showers in the blink of an eye – but sure, isn’t that half the fun? Here are six welcome signs of spring to watch out for in Westport as the season starts.
Six Signs of Spring in Westport
1. Leaping Lambs
In early spring, lambs start appearing in fields all around Westport. Few things gladden the heart like the sight of young lambs springing from tussock to tussock and racing up and down a green field in fluffy little gangs. The most popular breeds on Westport’s sheep farms are probably the woolly Suffolks and muscular Texels, while hardy Blackface Mountain Sheep occupy higher ground. Regardless of pedigree, though, the lambs are all adorable! If you want to get up close and personal with some of these wee clouds of cuteness, check out Glen Keen Farm, 14 miles south of Westport Town, which welcomes visitors.
2. Sunny Celandines
Celandine’s are among the first wildflowers to raise their head in Westport every spring, their bright-yellow petals shining in woods, by rivers, in hedgerows and along roadsides from February right the way through to May. And we’re not the only ones to delight in the sight of these cheery little flowers – they are also a welcome feeding station for nectar-hungry insects early in the season. These winged creatures help to pollinate the flowers as they move from plant to plant, so it’s very much a mutually beneficial two-way street.
3. Dancing Cows
When the weather permits, cattle are turned out to grass in early spring – and if you’re lucky enough to catch a local farmer bringing his herd from the winter sheds to the green fields, you won’t forget the spectacle. It will soon dispel the myth that cows are cumbersome, slow-moving creatures! Watch them dance and lep about in pure unfettered joy – the spring truly in their step as they put the winter confines behind them and look forward to many months of chewing the cud al fresco.
4. Pretty Primroses
Soon the hedgerows and banks of Westport’s byways and backroads will be freckled with delicate wild primrose. The beautiful, pale lemon-yellow petals of these native wildflowers bejewel our roadside verges and shady woodlands in springtime, charming all who pass by. According to folklore, they also ward off mischievous fairies, so they’re good to have around! The flowers are edible too – when brushed with a thin wash of egg white and given a dusting of caster sugar, the crystallised flowers make the prettiest of cake decorations.
5. Singing Skylarks
Now here’s something to keep an ear out for. In folk tradition, if the skylark sings on St Brigid’s Day (February 1) the rest of the year will be fine. And what a song they have! With anything from 160 to over 460 syllables in their repertoire, only the nightingale rivals their reputation as one of the finest singers in the bird world. The average length of their songflight is around two minutes, but epic 30-minute performances have been recorded. These little birds are early risers too, singing before sunrise and often the first to be heard in the dawn chorus. Skylarks like boggy land and the damp, level coastal meadows behind sand dunes, and it’s close to such terrain that you’ll be most likely to hear their joyous springtime symphony of song.
6. Wondrous Wood Anemone
From March onwards, dainty wood anemones populate Westport’s deciduous woodlands and the lush hedgerows and banks that line them. Their habit of nodding, swaying and dancing with the wind gives rise to their Irish name, Lus na gaoithe (Windflower). Their poppyish white flowers continue to bloom brightly until May, when the new leaves of the trees above finally shade them out, and spring finally gives way to summer.