Sunday, 26 March 2017

Local patch 3

The spring equinox has passed and this weekend we have put our clocks forward and jumped into British Summer Time.  We are looking forward to longer evenings and an opportunity to be outside at the end of the working day. It was a perfect Mothering Sunday, with a celeste-blue sky all day and warmth in the sun. We walked in the Quantock Hills.  Wills Neck is the highest summit (1261 feet). From the top you can see as far as the Brecon Beacons and over to Dartmoor and Exmoor. There is a long, slow pull to the meadows at the top and there was a bright, blustery breeze which tore our voices from our mouths and quickly chilled our cheeks. The woodlands were full of primroses and the first Chiffchaffs were shouting their arrival from the trees.

Back home, I spent a long time searching the skies for further swallows and am beginning to doubt my early (10 March) sighting.  But that joyous, swooping flight is really distinctive, isn't it? I couldn't wish one into the sky today, but over the sunny, tumbledown wall on the edge of the garden there was another herald of Spring: a first Brimstone butterfly. Sharp as lemon against the terracotta bricks, he was unmistakable.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Local patch 2

All of a sudden, the countryside is colourful again.  New leaves and new grass are citrus bright. There is a green haze on the trees, and blossom and bloom compete to be noticed: pink, cream, yellow, purple, orange, red, blue.  We walked the field paths around NT Lytes Carey on Saturday.  Lots of mud remains but the blustery air was soft with Spring.  As we turned the corner of a large field, a patch of clear sky was lit by bright sunlight and the first skylark of the season was tipping his liquid song into the sky.  It's a reminder of better days and a sound full of great promise.  What joy.

Monday, 13 March 2017

Local patch 1

I saw my first swallow over the garden on Friday - 10th March!  Last year, the first one I spotted was on 16 April.  It didn't stay around and I haven't seen another one, but I know that house martins were recorded by visitors to RSPB Ham Wall last weekend.

Can we believe in Spring again now? It has happened in a couple of short weeks.  The daffodils are in full flood, I have seen my first sweet violets, there are primroses on the banks and we have blossom, finally.  The blackthorn was followed by the pink cherries, and in the village this morning: two magnolias - glowing. Tiny leaves are bursting from buds; the young plants in our new native hedge looks like they might thicken up a bit this year.

The pond that we dug and filled last autumn was immediately adopted as a bathing spot for the clouds of starlings that cross the house on the way to and from their feeding and roosting spots. The house sparrows love it too. A surprising number of invertebrates have already made a home there. On Sunday we found a Great Diving Beetle.  We can't wait to plant it up and get that water clear.

Birdsong in the garden seems to get louder every day.  The male blackbird has reclaimed his singing tree, a silver birch above the pond.  The walnut tree is being visited by hordes of rooks who crash around, breaking off the brittle twigs and dragging them back to their shaggy stick piles in the high trees by the Church. The nest boxes in the garden have been explored, I think at least one is already being used by blue tits.  So far, our owl box remains empty though.