Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Stirrings of Spring...the Simple Pleasures

'It is the first mild day of March
Each minute sweeter than before
The redbreast sings from the tall larch
That stands beside our door'
(William Shakespeare)

What a difference a few weeks make! After the sub zero temperatures of last month we now have clear signs of Spring all around us and what a treat it is, a long wait but well worth it. As a child my favourite season was Autumn, I loved the changing colours, the 'mellow fruitfulness' and the promise of Christmas just around the corner. But now... give me Spring any time... the tentative fresh green growth, warm sunshine, creatures all around preparing to bring new life into the world... so much promise! What could be better?

So, in just a few weeks we have gone from these Mallards on a frozen lake, wondering where the water went,


to this. Just look at the deep ruts in the ground, no wonder an official drought has been declared here!!

Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly

'See her bright robes the Butterfly unfold,
Broke from her wintry tomb in prime of day,
What youthful bride can equal her array?'
(James Thomson)

What a treat, my first butterfly of the year! A real thrill and so eagerly awaited through the dull, drab days of Winter. When it took flight two more joined it from the undergrowth and it was such a pleasure to watch them dancing together in the sunlight. They would, of course, have only recently emerged from hibernation encouraged by the particularly warm, early Spring sunshine. What a shame it is that so many people are completely unaware of such simple pleasures as watching butterflies and of the wealth of natural beauty which surrounds them.

I was pleased to see a male Blackcap in the garden recently. They usually visit in the Winter and early Spring but I was beginning to think they were giving me a miss this year. Unfortunately I only managed one unusable photo. I did manage to snatch a quick and not very sharp photo of a couple of Long-tailed-Tits in the garden, through glass. It has been a while since I got any sort of photo of one of these despite having seen plenty flitting from tree to tree in various places.

Long-tailed Tits

It is always a joy to find Snowdrops growing wild.


'Hail, gentle Snowdrop, Spring's first flower,
No more we dread drear Winter's power:
We hail thy coming with delight,
Thy presence makes all nature bright. '
(William Count)

I thought I was destined not to get any photos of Siskins this time so I was very pleased to see some. They were high in a tree and quite distant and I mistakenly found the 'wrong one' through the camera's viewfinder. I realised when I looked at the photos on the computer that there was one on the end of a branch, lower in the tree. Oh well, at least I got something ;-)


I have always thought it would be nice to have a wildlife pond in the garden especially at this time of year when the frogs are so busy but I do think it is much more special to look for frogs and their spawn in the wild and for me it is another Springtime thrill. I found this quite by chance when I noticed water glistening through a hedge.

Common Frog

'What a wonderful bird the frog are--
When he sit, he stand almost.
When he hop, he fly almost.
He ain't got no sense hardly.
He ain't got no tail hardly either.
When he sit, he sit on what he ain't got--almost.'
(Virginia Hamilton)

It looked like there will be plenty of Tadpoles before too long which is good news as although called the 'Common Frog' it is unfortunately becoming much less common in the wild in the UK due to the diminishing number of ponds and use of insecticides.


Another species which has declined alarmingly in the UK is the delightful little Tree Sparrow. Over the last forty years there has been a dramatic drop in their numbers, as much as fifty percent in many areas! I hadn't seen one for years until just recently at the end of a short afternoon walk, as the light was failing and as I was about to get into the car, I spotted a small group in a hedge and managed to catch one on camera, I was thrilled and returned a few days later in better light but needless to say they were nowhere to be seen and it is a little awkward lurking in a country lane, outside a farmhouse and pointing a camera in the direction of the windows!


Finally, this cheeky little chap and I had great fun playing hide and seek with each other, he tried his best to avoid the camera but curiosity got the better of him :-)

Grey Squirrel

Until the next time... enjoy the beauty of nature, wherever you are.