As most of us will have experienced, the sun was busily beating down at the end of March. Eaton was bathed in unseasonably warm sunshine and the countryside sprang to life.
Along with the dusting of blackthorn blossom, with its promise of sloes later in the year, other spring-time flowers have emerged with joy.
As I checked the fences for gaps, I noticed the primroses have arrived on the bank and the celandines are golden amongst the tufty grass. Dog’s Mercury lies shaded under the tall hedges and delicate violets, with the barren strawberry, cling to the field edges.
However looking across the wheat fields things seem more ominous. Fertiliser has not been taken up by the plants and without rain will be slow to do so. Patterns of pale and darker patches have appeared where we would expect a more uniform green. Already the stems of the wheat are beginning to form by extending and within them can be found microscopic grain sites. It isn’t a good time to be growing poorly.
But the peacock butterfly flitting by isn’t troubled by these things, the skylarks high above the crops are belting out their melody for all they are worth and the tap tapping of the chiffchaff song has summer urgency rather than a spring-time clearing of the throat. The clear warm air gives clarity to the beat of the woodpecker’s drumming and the ‘all-change’ of the small birds into breeding mood seems hastened. The hawthorn leaf buds are breaking and soon the hedges will put on their summer coat.
In one of these hedges I stopped and watched as a pair of long tailed tits built a nest. These birds are not really shy, very noisy in a group and have a very obvious long tail which to my mind makes them look like pom-poms on a stick. The nest was an intricate oval dome. Both birds worked tirelessly to construct it of wool, lichen and cobwebs. One bird would bring a small piece and leave, then the next, and, periodically, the bird I assumed was the female would try the nest out for size and shuffle round in it vigorously. I hope they use it after all this trouble and perhaps in a month or so there will be another family of “pom-pom” birds to escort me along the railway line.