A growing selection of 2020 entries curated by Pippa Marland.
A wheat ear arrives at the ‘lost hamlet of Lodge in North Yorkshire, and Sue Harrison wonders if we can learn to live more harmoniously with the natural world.
My early morning vigil to find the first arriving Wheat ear – iconic spring migrant of these parts – led me to the ‘lost hamlet of Lodge’ at Scar.
Once a medieval grange farm servicing the needs of Byland Abbey, it lay along a busy packhorse route.
Now it served as a ‘romantic ruin’ at the top of the dale in the middle of nowhere – perfect for self isolation and solace.
I wondered if we could perhaps learn to step back from our modern ways and whether we might once again strive to live more harmoniously with our natural resources.
A sudden movement on the drystone wall broke my reveries.
An alert masked eye held my glance. His proud upright posture after such a long flight put my slow bent progress to shame.
My involuntary ‘Oh wow!’ didn’t deter him from announcing his arrival.
‘Nature business’ was carrying on as usual.
John Dorans has a spring in his step as he walks in the Midlothian hills.
SPRING IN MY STEP I am excited, like a young child
Too the hills I go, off to the wild
I pull on my boots, that have been lying so long
Hoping to hear that glorious bird song
I climb over the old wooden stile
Decision made, I stop for a while
I gaze at the Jewel, that I have found
Magnificent, wonderful,as I look all around
I sit bathing my feet in the stream
Watching the bubbles , as I sit and dream
A minnow darts between my toes
I lift my foot and off it goes
I dry my feet and set for the hill
Care full, not to crush springs daffodils
The lambs are clamouring in the grass
Joyful now that winter has passed
A hare sits majestically in it’s form
Cosy, comfortable in it’s new dorm
The birds chatter and start to sing
What’s that you echo here comes Spring ?
I tramp further and further on Heralding the freshness of a new dawn
Still trace of frost here and there
The sun feels ear as it hits my hair
All around is glorious scene
Yellows, hues and colours of green
This must be gods greatest gift
For all mankind, there spirit to lift
In the New Forest, Kirk Martinez celebrates the combination of blossom and bees.
Our young cherry tree blossomed and the bees found it very quickly…
Emily Woolley takes the opportunity to photograph the exquisite snowdrops of Calke Abbey, Derbyshire.
This little shot was taken at Calke Abbey, amongst the towering trees and beautiful greenery!
🌿 Snow drops are my favourite part about spring, they are so delicate and light up dark forest floors in the spring sun! 🌷
All hail Ostara, goddess of the spring!
Ostara’s HeraldOld one standing,
Mistletoe drunk; Blood-moon bellied, Apple-blossom ripe. Awakes from rest withGreen tides flowing,
Suckled deep fromEarth’s full breast. Fresh shoots spearing, Buds appearing, Bird-kind stretch Their wings in flight.
Winter fades with Time transforming, She chants power words.
To bring the light.
Lynne P. Emmerson
In Lacashire, Polly Livsey enjoys seeing the children getting their ‘dose of vitamin D’ in the spring sunshine.
Spring at Last…
Grasses and flowers vie for space along a west-flowing stream.
Avians communicate their messages around us, under a wedgewood morning.
Foliage shimmers at a shape-shifting sky.
In the undergrowth, the hidden forage. We move from these musings to where bowlers on a pristine green challenge to kiss the jack.
The boys, now on scooters youngest on four-wheels, the eldest on two, criss-crossing around the greens with care they stop a moment stare – continue their adventure.
The eldest comforts a toddler tumble, ‘I kept an eye on him mamma,’ he said.
Children are catching a dose of vitamin D during this start of spring.
For Louise Hislop in Northumberland spring begins with the bumblebee queens.
My front doorstep, south facing. I am sitting with a cup of tea, warm sun on my face (I won’t mention the cold wind blowing). Dwarf daffodils, early lungwort, a dunnock singing from the top of a small bare tree, a lone long-tailed tit roving.
I am waiting, and here at last they are, my first bumblebee queens, fresh out of hibernation; a red-tail on Clematis alpina, a tree bumble on aubretia, two buff-tails investigating the hellebore’s purple upside-down cups, all looking for nectar to fill their body-stores before starting to nest.
And so the year for me begins.
Ron Davies paints a gorgeous picture of his garden on the early morning of the spring equinox.
The early morning sun alights on the carpet of daffodils at the garden’s edge, the bright yellow glow seems life affirming, it is the 20th March 2020, the Spring Equinox.
The clear light liberates the senses, relieving the gloom of the constant news of the Covid 19 outbreak.
Soon the sun fills the rest of the garden, a riot of colour as the daffodils, narcissi, primroses, muscari, snakes head fritillary and cherry blossom are in full bloom.
There is movement, a multitude of coming and goings as birds squabble for their place at the bird table.
There seems to be a pecking order, sparrows are chased by a robin who retreats when a flash mob of around a dozen starlings swoop down.
They are chased by a male blackbird who retreats when two mistle thrush appear.
A sudden flurry of wings and the garden empties as a magpie lands nearby.
Sara Osman finds that working from home gives her the time to appreciate the spring.
Day 1 working from home.
Pause in the hectic bustle, slower pace of life.
Time to look – clear blue sky, trees in bud, cherry blossom, spring flowers.
Time to listen – breeze in the trees, chirping of birds.
Time to appreciate the renewal of spring.
A Brimstone butterfly and a chiffchaff put a big smile on Clare Graves’ face.
Two seasonal firsts yesterday, in sunny back garden: first butterfly (Brimstone) and first chiffchaff!!
BIG smile on my face 🙂
How beautiful the sycamore’s new leaves are!
The sycamore leaves seem to have unfurled more each time I look at them, intricate details of the perfect leaf edges and veins becoming more and more visible.
Like a spring released, green is racing across the woods as I stand looking in. I shed the bud of my jacket as the sun has warmed my back.
Pale yellow primroses and mint green leaves are the pastel colours of spring, in contrast to the magenta, bluebell blue and emerald of later months of stronger sun.
By the paths of the park are gentle curls of wild garlic, and hovering above bum first is a large bumblebee. I break one leaf in half to treat myself to the nose tingling smell.
From the treetops the sound of ‘chiff-chiff-chaff’ is one of my favourites; a migrant has arrived to join the frequencies of spring.
In Somerset, Mark Stanley-Smith feeds his cattle then searches for signs of the cowslips that delight him every year.
21st March 2020. Having fed the cattle, I allow myself a short walk round part of the farm.
Near the river, a large band of fieldfares, accompanied by a sprinkling of redwings moves restlessly about in the hedgerows, massing, perhaps, for their return to their breeding grounds in Scandinavia.
As one winter visitor departs, a summer visitor arrives. In a patch of scrub, I catch a glimpse of one of those maddeningly hard to identify warblers as it disappears into the undergrowth. Seconds later, it emerges and perches on a hawthorn bush, loudly proclaiming its name with its unmistakable chiffchaff call.
Nearby, I search for a clump of cowslips, which delights me every year. I am delighted to find signs of imminent flowering.
On the way back to the farmhouse, I enjoy a wonderful sighting of a male brimstone.
Rachel Bentley in Leicestershire has a visit from two lungwort-loving solitary bees.
Two new bees have just paid my garden a visit. But they’re not honey bees or bumblebees … they are rather loud, compact, solitary bees.
The first is a little ninja – small, wearing a black suit and faster than a bumblebee; making it tricky to catch on camera.
It teleports as soon as I get near, zipping from pink flower to purple, to pink. She is a hairy-footed flower bee.
Her second, the male, is a ginger ninja with hairy ankles. Neither of them can resist lungwort and even when disturbed, they’ll hover around me, sizing me up, before going back to their beloved’s tube-like flowers, which their huge tongues seem perfectly designed for.
Ava, aged 11, has written a fantastic spring diary for us!
My Spring Diary
Spring has sprung when the flowers peep out from their blanket of earth, they cover the land with bursts of colour and life.
Spring has sprung when the birds come out to play, flittering from tree to tree, their chirrups fill the sky with an incredible sound.
Spring has sprung when the new born lambs frolic and play in the fresh sweet grass, their mothers watching over them.
Spring has sprung when the chicks hatch out of their eggs, so wet but soon so fluffy and cute, such different personalities.
Spring has sprung when the trees begin to blossom, pink white and cream, the petals fall to the ground, covering it with mother nature’s blanket.
Spring has sprung when the days grow warmer and longer, the rays of warmth and life beat down on the dewy land below, giving life to all it touches.
Spring has sprung!
Ava Bayston (aged 11)
Kevin Parr sings in praise of celandines and the adders that slip out into the spring sunshine.
I‘m with William Wordsworth when it comes to the lesser celandine – ‘Bright as the sun itself’. And before the flowers is that first glimpse of green as those plump, heart-shaped leaves begin to glow through the deadened grass and nettle stems. But the celandine remains something of a pre-cursor. Yellow splashes that might lead to a creature even more splendid – something else that follows the sun.
A tight coil of zig-zagged scales. That red, unblinking eye and glossy black tongue. An adder will slip out into the early spring sunshine to begin a slow thaw back into the world of the warm-blooded. The males appear first, their small bodies quicker to warm and cool. A tail-flick from safety, but energy is precious, and moving an unwanted option. Careful footsteps and slow movement can bring amazing views, but always ease away carefully and leave them curled where they lie.
In Cornwall, the signs of spring bring some welcome positivity.
Lucky to live in a lovely village so able to walk out everyday along country roads and through fields without meeting anyone. Beautiful flowers and butterflies along hedgerows – restores some positivity.
In West Sussex, Adam Hersey is treated to the sight of a Comma butterfly.
For me, spring doesn’t officially begin until I have seen my first butterfly of the year. I always put my money on Brimstone being the first species that I’ll see but this year, 2020, I was treated to seeing this beautiful Comma. Not the most exciting photo but it brought a smile to my face seeing it bathing in the warm spring sun.
Reflecting on our difficult times, Greta Hughson and Sam McKavanagh both find comfort in the way the spring reminds us that these difficult times will pass.
Spent an hour at the allotment, with the loud and bold robin cheering me on. Weeding the beds ready for planting soon and harvesting the last of the kale and the first of the early sprouting broccoli.
Carefully picked young nettle leaves to take home to eat. In these strange and uncertain times, with Covid-19 spreading into all our lives, nature is a soothing balm. I’m glad we’re dealing with this virus as spring arrives and not with a long dark winter on our doorstep.
The lengthening days, the cheerful spring flowers, the flurries of small birds among the tree blossom – they all remind us that life goes on, the seasons turn, and this too shall pass.I hope the enforced slow down will remind me to breathe deeply of the fresh air and pay attention to the small pleasures. I feel better at the allotment.
There’s a steady awakening this year, the plants that were dormant are now stretching and growing, with their steady progress I am being awoken to the beauty of the nature.
The world itself seems like madness, but the slow spread of spring shows that life continues and that this will pass, the trees around us have seen through centuries and their enduring nature and new life will pass in the blink of its eye.
Megan Carroll in Derbyshire writes of ‘unplaiting’ the different bird songs and hearing her first chiffchaff of the year.
Listening to the birds this sunny morning, it takes a moment to unplait their different songs and identify how many are around the kitchen garden.
A robin, a wren, a blackbird, a blue tit – then a two-tone top-of-your-voice trumpet; “chiff-chiff-chaff-chiff-chaff”. My first of the year.
Welcome back, friend.
A wonderful meditation on a Queen red-tailed bumble bee from Ginny Batson in Cardiff.
My eyes strained to follow as she crawled through the ivy, her wings beating with low resonance. I could hardly tell her apart from the shadows. Then, she disappeared down a black hole and was gone. Alice-like, I followed her into a realm of springtails, earthworms and all manner of semi-aquatic life we humans cannot see. I’d never thought of Queen red-tailed bumble bee as potholer, but spelaeologist she is; a cave dweller of her own scale, in a depth of dark, water, and organic and mineral-matter.
Here, she will live in symbiosis with her own microbiome and a flow of soil-life, lining her home with soft fibres for comfort and warmth. Here, she’ll be all-purveying through her colony’s social phase ~ producing worker daughters. She is Bee-as-Dasein (Heidegger/Tao), loving of this world, active in caring now and for whatever comes next.
In this lovely poem, Linda Harmes from East Sussex reflects on blossom welcoming us into the spring.
Lonely faces staring from the balcony, Pink, sweet blossom holding out a welcoming hand. Come, join the Springtime.
In Norfolk Laurence Mitchell finds a cast of characterful birds, including the chiff chaff – the true herald of spring.
It is the vernal equinox and it seems appropriate to make a circuit of the grazing meadows that lie at the edge of the city. Here, where marsh marigolds glow in patches of foot-pocked mud, the river is sluggish, its water almost at overspill, the legacy of a wet winter.
We divert along a spinney close to the river through a tunnel of frothing blackthorn – all thorn and flower, no sign yet of leaf. A wren with a Napoleon complex is scolding allcomers. A robin perches trembling in territorial song as a party of long-tailed tits whisper their way through the foliage.
Then we hear it: a repeated two-note mantra – a chiffchaff, the first of the year. We catch the briefest of glimpses as the bird flits along a branch before diving for cover. Silent now, the secret is already out: the world has turned and spring is here.
There’s peace in the green oasis of the wakening natural world.
Suffolk departed, Norn Iron bound.
Four weeks of nought but rain and a wind to found.
Forgotten amongst the brightest of days.
Sun splitting the sky and most dour of face.
Buzzards screech on thermal highs.
Oblivious to human strife of panic buys Lagan waters run towards the waiting sea.
Within this green oasis nature’s succour is mind’s peace.
Annie Bell in Derbyshire recognises that children are the natives of spring.
The morning is a luminous wash of new warmth; sunlight making a shy debut in a sky that until so recently sagged with the ashen grey of winter. She trips ahead of me, trailing dog lead and aimless chatter of delight. I pace more slowly. My bones, oaken with the cold of long months, soothed by this unaccustomed balm.
I find her at the corner, small body bent over in earnest examination, chubby fist clutching the stem of an immaculate daffodil – spring’s treasure. She peers into the trumpet of the flower, demanding each part be named, prodding and searching delicate stamen, curious fingers dyed egg- yolk- yellow.
Lesson complete, she scampers onwards. Her backdrop bright with the clamour of virgin birdsong; gems of the season’s first flowers studding umber soil with kaleidoscope colour. A tiny figure forging through awakening woodland, a native of spring; at the beginning of everything.
After the floods come the flag irises.
The floodwater has receded, although the river is still high and patterned with eddies. In between the roots and silt pools to the side of the towpath, newly uncovered, the sharp green shoots and new leaves of flag irises push through downed branches, dead wood.
In the West Midlands, Samantha Kick celebrates the beauty of the Weeping Willow.
Weeping Willow. A light spring breeze: head bent low, tears that flow down below the water’s surface. Green droplets that spread and dip and grow, a poetry of motion in many verses.
A day so still and calm:The sun’s light glow makes a mirror of the water. In the stillness, no ripple, no trickle, no flow and the willow stretches to a whole new world reflected in the silence below.
When the rain patters: the rhythm of a drum roll. The canter of the hooves. The splashing of the droplets. The way the water moves. Each green leaf awakens at the kiss of the spring rain. Branches dancing with the droplets, life force flows through every vein. Nothing like the spring time to bring us to life again.
In Cardiff a magnolia tree in a cemetery has light-bulb blossoms.
You crept in after the floods and waited until the wind blew cold across the worn out river. The magnolias amid the mole hills in the cemetery welcome you with a wild display of light bulbs. Let’s bury the winter under a canopy of tearful petals.
In Oxford, Caspar Henderson celebrates the renegade spread of nationally-rare Snake’s head fritillaries.
My daughter spotted them first: Snake’s head fritillaries beside the smeary, plastic-baggy riverpath in Grandpont. Following the destruction of most meadowland in Britain, the flower is nationally rare, but here in Oxford they are, for a few days, abundant. We’re accustomed these days to seeing them in certain places: beauty spots such Magdalen College meadow and Iffley fields, where many thousands of their bell-like flowers — mostly purple, but some white float in sunlight meadow grass, and chime, silently, that the world is ancient entirely new. Recently they’ve started encouraging them in Christ Church Meadow, but I would never have expected to find them here, volunteering right by the steps where I put in my rubbish old kayak into the water.
They make me think, somehow, of Tom Waits, John Lurie and Roberto Benigni as convicts on the run in Jim Jarmusch’s film Down By Law. I whoop.
In Norfolk, Rob Coleman seeks out sunbathing adders then carefully retreats!
I know what I’m looking for. I’m where I’ve found them before. The weather is ideal; cool but with brief spells of refreshingly intense spring sunshine that will tempt my quarry to linger in view.
Carefully up the bank, treading lightly, aware that heavy footfalls will frighten my subject. I’m also circumspect, I’m actively seeking an encounter with an animal many people fear.
And then I spot one, a few metres away to left. And completely miss another a yard in front of my nose. I’m looking for adders and I’ve found a male and female.
The girl is a dark snake, coffee coloured with a chocolate zig-zag back. The boy is very close, and I can see the deep red of his eye and his tongue tasting the air. I enjoy the scene for a few minutes before respectfully retreating to leave the couple to sunbathe in peace.
In her moving poem ‘Love will be our bedrock’ sees the newly greening earth and each day’s sunrise bringing us together in our isolation.
Love will be our bedrock. We are separate, but we all stand on the same patient, greening earth.
All around us life is busy, a song thrush practices its three small phrases, a crow
balances on the crown of a Monterey pine, rasps its black throat, a buzzard circles.
Hedges are white with blackthorn blossom, celandine brighten the lanes, lambs grow strong.
The city sounds are muffled, streets deserted. Fingers send messages, smile greets smile on screen.
Fear prowls the tunnels of our dreams, casts giant shadows on the bedroom walls,
but morning comes, we watch another sunrise lighten the day, make a list of friends to ring.
Wood anemones have a special magic for several of our contributors. Ben Hoare explains how they sometimes appear where woods used to be as if the land itself has a memory.
Spring Equinox? I’d clean forgotten. But fed up with scrolling through the latest pandemic news, I nipped outside for a breather while my partner looked after our girls. I was stressed and it was my first time alone all day. And there, gleaming like white buttercups in the bright mid-March sunshine (itself a blessing after what felt like weeks of wet), was a fresh clump of wood anemones.
The year’s first. They always seem out of place in our garden, yet persist in appearing on the rough grassy bank that rises to meet the old hedge behind our house.
Countryside historians such as the late Oliver Rackham refer to these flowers as “woodland ghosts”. Their presence in such an odd location often points to a vanished wood, long since cleared, as if the land has a memory in leaf and petal form.
On the Black Isle in the Highlands, the skies are blue and blackbirds are nesting.
Here on the Black Isle we have had wet days. On the first day of spring I am greeted by impossibly blue skies, the touch of sun on my face. A welcome feeling, even more so in these strange times. I’m at home as a lot of us are but I’m lucky to have the comfort of the garden, mountain views and the snuffle of a pair of Labradors as they follow me round the lawn.
In the stubble field geese gather – a gyre of grey before landing – beautiful temporary neighbours. I will miss their noise when they decide to leave.As I hang bedding out for the first time this year I hear a flap of wing in the cypress near the washing line. Blackbirds are nesting in the safety of the bushy branches. They settle as I move towards the house, time for me to settle too.
In Edinburgh, a schoolteacher prepares nature worksheets for homeschooling her own children.
Spring Equinox 2020. Not how I imagined it would be, instead of taking a moment to notice Nature, I’m rushing to pack up my classroom due to the impending school closure.
The sun is aching through the window, drawing our attention to smatterings of garden birds; Blue & Great Tits, Dunnocks, Woodpigeons – bursting out of their clothes and a stunning earth-brown female Blackbird. They seem equally to be rushing to meet some deadline, most likely to stake a territory in time for nesting. It’s then I realise, I have taken so much more than a moment to notice Nature. The clear radiance of life bursting from Winter’s grip has re-rooted me into a cycle which exists far beyond our daily struggles. I fill a box with my bird guides and ‘minibeast’ ID worksheets.
A new curriculum awaits for my ‘home-schoolers’. Welcome, new strange Spring.
A host of different bird species provide much-needed company for Su Corcoran in self-isolation.
Birds are my only physically present company in the first week of Covid-19 related isolation. The morning starts with competitive sopranos from robin and blackbird, followed by a chatter of goldfinches and the airborne dance of starlings. Taking turns, they visit the feeders as coal, great and blue tits speed in, grab a sunflower seed, and fly out to devour their prize on birch branches.
Later, dunnocks and magpies patrol the ground for goodies I set out on the lawn. Daffodils suffer the waddle of wood pigeons, scouring the flowerbeds for discarded seeds as grape hyacinth stand firm, blooming purple in the morning sun. Tulips spring forth, ready to burst into vibrant reds as the Lily shoots claim distance as they move towards the sky. A crow hops between tree branches, breaking off flexible twigs and carrying them off to nesting sites elsewhere. The gulls overhead mob a lone buzzard.
Something spotted in a stream in suburban Leeds turns out, on closer inspection, to be a dipper – a symbol of hope for Andrew Gell.
A brilliant white patch stands out on a moss covered rock in Meanwood beck. The stream winds through suburban Leeds, in a wildlife corridor that points accusingly towards the concrete and cranes of city centre development. Here, if you are lucky and vigilant, a kingfisher’s iridescence or a hunting sparrow hawk may catch your eye.
Today, optimism is subdued by recent litter picking at RSPB St Aidan’s. Will it be a flushable wipe, a piece of plastic or simply a discarded tissue? Obliged by my rule, if it looks incongruous it warrants further investigation, I raise my binoculars. My mood soars skyward, it is a dipper!
A portent of good water quality and on this first day of spring, hope for the future.
On Mothering Sunday, Marian Carroll can hear a robin singing in her daughter’s garden down the telephone line.
Mothering Sunday, 22 March 2020I wake to the first of the songbirds, opening the window, in flows a wave of sound, which is moving slowly over the country, flowing around my home on its way. I listen to the blackbirds vie with one another, robins in full throat, sparrows, goldfinches, wrens, blue and great tits.
Then it ceases – the break of the day celebrated. Then the gulls are flying over, calling to one another as they pass.Its breakfast time, I look out over my paradise – hyacinth, daffodils, tulips, blossoms of plum, greengage and pear, cherries and apples in bud. I go into the garden the air is sweetly fresh and like wine. There is a calling card from a hedgehog, living in the box made by my husband. I spot ladybirds sunbathing, and bumble bees foraging amongst the flowers.My daughter phones, I can hear her garden robin.
In Dorset Susanna Curtin finds her joy in nature heightened in the face of this year’s ‘Covid-19 spring’.
As I walk silently alone over the hills to the next village, the bright expanding light throws a blanket of spring promise over the strange eeriness of a Covid 19 Spring. Ordinary life is slowly shutting down around me.
Yet in this enforced stillness, the joy of every nature note is somehow heightened: more poignant, more precious; a focal point that signals the light after the winter darkness. A newly arrived chiff chaff provides the background beat “chiff-chaff chiff-chaff, chiff-chaff, chiff chiff chiff, whilst blue tits flit and flirt along the top of the hedgerow. A small flock of goldfinch swirl past the budding willows, buzzards soar overhead and a basking lizard flips from view. I feel my pace slow and my mood lift as I absorb the power of nature’s resilience.
Josie Rylands in Bristol finds in self-isolation that she can still encounter the signs of spring, even if she can’t touch them.
I’m self isolating to protect a loved one. Being indoors is hard, but I’ve had closer encounters with spring than I thought I could. From the balcony window, I’ve watched the green inching out of the trees on the hill, met drowsy queen bees roused by the sun, watched a blue tit hurry back and forth to her family in an air brick. Like my friends and family on a video call, I can’t touch it right now, but seeing and hearing it means so much.
Chiff chaffs take pride of place in many of the nature diaries. Celia Dillow writes that the creatures know of the coming spring before we are aware of it.
Meteorological spring happens before we believe it but the creatures know. They can sense the turning of the earth, the lengthening light and the softening air. Robin, thrush and blackbird fill the world with song. And today, the first chiffchaffs are shouting their names from hedgerow and skylarks sing and soar above the high meadow.
The pheasants that survived the winter shoot are splendid now in red and bronze gloss. I take the morning register: brimstone, bumblebee, violet, primrose, anemone, catkin and leaf-burst. All present. Reliable and irrepressible, spring surges forward. Quick – let’s go with her!
Nest building in progress!
A high pitched, trilling song
Sounds in the early hours
Of this March morning
A scattering quiver of small birds
Hurls past to settle, momentarily
On the branches of a tree
Outside the building
A moment later
As though at a signal
The throng swirls high
Like leaves on an eddying wind
Gone. As quickly as they came
Except for the one who has business –
A blue tit hen, building her
Artfully concealed masterpiece
Under construction –
A cup of moss from nearby lawns;
Wool, and feathers. Bound
With spiders’ web gossamer –
Complete when she lines it with her own downy feathers.
Through a spying lens we note –
Library Webcam diary 2020:
“Nest building in progress! Saw Mrs Blue Tit today”
“What a privilege, I am in awe!”
Spring is here.
From Bristol, Agnieszka Jolanta Siewicz writes in praise of repetition.
Snowdrops always boringly white and so early
Sunlight on green buds, well, what’s new about that
Willow ‘fluff’, come on, stop being a child
Daffodils crocuses cherry blossom, the soil spitting out its clichés again.
Have you never seen spring before?
But I’m thirsty for its repetitive beauty.
Agnieszka Jolanta Siewicz
Isabel Thomas shows how making a small change to a garden, in this case, “planting” a tiny pond, can make a world of difference within a year.
Last year we planted a tiny pond, the size of a bicycle wheel. We circled it with pebbles, and a couple of ferns, and forgot about it. One year later, the ground all around is wild with life. As spring begins, it looks like every plant and insect in the garden is clamoring to be a part of this organized chaos. Tiny pink and purple storksbill flowers bob like confetti over a green sea of wild garlic, alkanet and couch grass. Bees buzz around the bubblegum flowers of dead-nettles, zooming over the ladybirds exploring its green and silvery leaves. Sprigs of goosegrass pop up here and there, like a child’s drawing of a plant, they look like hope. And in the watery kingdom at the midst of all this, small but ambitious rushes, the gentle bristles of mare’s tail and thirst-quenching green starwort somehow both compete and cooperate.
By paying close attention Philip Strange learns about the nature of the Dunsford daffodils.
On a beautifully sunny mid-March day, we went to see the Dunsford daffodils. We parked near Steps Bridge where the Teign cascaded noisily over rocks creating showers of white water and sparkling light. The riverside path took us away from the bridge and almost immediately we came across daffodils: growing under trees in deciduous woodland, scattered across riverside meadows and flourishing among coppiced hazel stools. They were unmistakeably our native daffodil based on their stature, the shape of the lemon and cream flowers and, something I hadn’t noticed before, the tendency of individual flowers to be held at a slight angle downwards. They do not grow thickly, it’s as though they need their space, and dense drifts of the flowers are rarely seen here. But this is compensated for by the sheer number of flowers so that for a few weeks at this time of year they own the land.
From a smattering of snowdrops to a myriad of violets, spring shows itself in Suffolk, in this lovely poem by Stephen Pewsey.
The snowdrops came first, a shy smattering,
then a serried platoon of pale nodding heads.
Primroses peeped next, from wintergreen swards,
and soon the blackthorn bloomed, each silver spark
an incandescent scintilla against the dark bark.
Spring dragged its feet, held back by ever-rain,
but still, across the rumpled puddled fields,
hares came, rufous and raucous, to curvet and skip
in the rising rimy mists of raking dawnlight.
But I knew that season’s change was here at last,
settled on the cold wet land, as tousled verges
sprang and rang with mauve myriads of violets.
The spuds are in and the apple trees are blossoming in County Down.
Traditionally in Northern Ireland, St Patricks Day is the day to plant your spuds! So mine are in and will be harvested, again traditionally, on 12th July. They are planted close to the apple trees which are coming into blossom and looking splendid in the Spring sunshine!! Grateful for nature at a time of change and uncertainty.
There are rough seas off the Devon coast, but the oaks are coming into leaf.
The first day of Spring.
A harsh east wind shakes the windows of our cottage here on the Devon Exmoor coast. The sea viewed through them is in irritated tumult, white topped waves crashing against passing cargo ships making their way up the Bristol Channel. The ‘Optimistic Oak’, so named as it always comes into leaf several weeks before its neighbours, is buffeted by the gale. True to form though its leaf buds are cracking open, showing a hint of green, whilst all the other trees, in the wood across the combe, hold their leaves tightly wrapped in their dark winter coats.
There is a cock pheasant and two hens, on the lawn by the greenhouse they are sharing some corn with a cheeky squirrel. Blue, coal and great tits squabble with goldfinches for seed at the feeders whilst others explore the nest boxes scattered about the garden.
Allotments are wonderful places to track the progress of spring.
Hearing a chiffchaff singing at my allotment yesterday (19th) is always one of my first indications that Spring has arrived. Also noticed that the buds on my fruit trees are just starting to burst.
An exquisite haiku on the equally exquisite wood anemone.
“Among dead brown leaves
A flowering of stars this month
A small early joy”
Haiku on the lovely wood anemone which is poking up through the undergrowth on this slightly mizzy day in East Sussex.
Spring might mean more to us than ever before this year. Ajay Tegala celebrates its arrival under an unusually quiet sky.
The arrival of spring this year is particularly welcome. Amongst these uncertain and worrying times, nature is springing into life around us. Out jogging around the edge of my fenland village, there is a cool breeze yet still a feeling of warmth to come in the air. Above me, no noise pollution from aircraft. Delightful. In the garden, my newly-planted trees and shrubs are shooting spring greens, a sign of optimism. Earlier this week, I saw my first butterfly of the year, a Brimstone. A little later this year. I now eagerly await seeing bats again and hearing the call of the Cuckoo. I will be a little sad, however, to say goodbye to the wintering Whooper Swans that have brought me such joy over the past few months, but the soon-to-be-here Swallows will bring equal pleasure. Such is the excitement of the changing seasons and none more-so than spring.
An excited toddler is its own dawn chorus on Dan Pooler’s first day of spring, but there are other signs of the new season too.
‘Dad, Dad, DAAAAD!!!’, this morning’s dawn chorus disturbed by my nearly three-year-old boy. The lighter mornings and harmonic Hedge Sparrows living in the Hawthorns that hem my garden; near Wolverhampton, caused him to rise earlier than the normal chorus of his tummy rumbling for breakfast.
The Hawthorn buds are about to burst, a vivid vernal green that to me signifies the start of spring and at their base, Primroses, a portend of longer, warmer, days to come.
At Wightwick Manor, the Daffodils are now at the peak of their efflorescence. A stroll around the ponds reveals another chorus, the croaks and ribbets of Common Frogs returning to the water to reproduce, tadpoles within weeks, froglets by July.
Although a chilly, grey start, when the equinox sun reveals itself, you can feel its warmth. ‘It’ll be shorts weather soon’; another chorus from my colleagues eager to ditch their winter waterproofs.
Dan, National Trust Gardener.
Lighting up our dark times: Catherine Sleeman shows us how important spring is for our mental health and wellbeing.
I first learnt to love spring three years ago when I watched it bloom in the grounds of the psychiatric hospital where I spent nine months as an inpatient. I had never before appreciated the wonder of this annual rejuvenation and the bold beauty of the daffodils catching the light.
This spring I am reminded of those flowers and their cheerfulness. It has been a wet winter and an emotionally bleak March. We seem now to face darkness of indefinite length and depth and yet there is a wren in the garden singing streams of sunshine into the world. There are magnolia petals on branches like candles on a chandelier and out of the saturated grass grow daffodils, still defying the sadness and insecurity of our situation. Yesterday I said goodbye to the plans I had for this year, standing in the drizzle with friends I may not see for weeks, and now I watch for spring: the explosions of blossom, the arrival of the birds, and the way the sky keeps its blue and pink and gold later into the evenings. The smell of rain, the way the skeletal trees begin to fill out again, and hope seeping in through open windows.
Life returns without fail from even the harshest of winters
A wonderful found poem of busy birds.
Blackbird fluting, Great Spotted Woodpecker drumming, Dunnock rambling, Wren trilling, Robin sweetly singing, Chiffchaff calling out its name, Raven cronking overhead, as Herring Gulls wheel and scream. All in or over my Somerset garden on this special day when spring officially arrives. Just waiting for the most special arrival of all: the Swallow… on the very day I deliver the manuscript of this amazing bird’s biography, to be published later this year.
Check-in later today for more of Pippa’s favorite entries.