Spring has arrived, hand-in-hand with a heatwave and drought conditions in many parts of England (not here however). I woke up early on Saturday morning, and peering out of the bedroom window found a bleary-eyed sun rising behind trees and and a low layer of mist, but cloudless skies overhead. Too good to waste. I dressed, tiptoed downstairs, drank a glass of water and left the rest of the household asleep as I set-off for the Pepper Pot. On the ginnel path down to Cove Road I passed a blackbird making small, soft sounds somewhere between a pop and a caw. Each vocalisation was proceeded by a rising lump, like an Adam’s-apple, in his throat. Strangely, he seemed quite unfazed by my scrutiny. Sparrows in the same hedgerow were quite tolerant of my presence too, and once I was in the wood, the same could be said of the many chaffinches, great tits, robins, marsh tits, blue tits and coal tits which were singing and bouncing in the trees and clearings. The roe deer I startled was less sanguine and shot away before I even had my camera in my hand.
My original intention had been a quick, pre-breakfast blast to the Pepper Pot and then home again, but now that I was out I was in no hurry to return. I wandered along the broad back of the hill on which Eaves Wood stands, with no clear destination in mind, but with a plan coalescing: I would head to Haweswater. In Sixteen Buoys Field I encountered another roe deer. This one a buck. He was too quick for me and my camera, but I was so close when he bolted that I could see the fur on his antlers.
I’d heard and seen a few song thrushes by the time I encountered this one down by Haweswater, but none of the others were as loud or as eloquent as this one.
That’s the wise thrush; he sings each song twice over,
Lest you should think he never could recapture
The first fine careless rapture!
There were chiff-chaffs singing here too – returning visitors whose distinctive song is a sure sign that spring has truly begun. I also watched a tiny bird hopping about shyly on a tree, always just out of sight, but eventually had a good enough view to see that it was a goldcrest, the first I’d seen for quite some time.
Toothwort grows in two spots that I know of locally. I usually look to find it flowering in early April, but this year, like last, it’s been a little earlier.
It’s an entirely parasitical plant with no leaves and it’s hairy pale pinky-white flowers look….well, a bit creepy.
Whilst I was priding myself on having snuck in a good stroll before breakfast, other villagers were up and about and going about their business – feeding the ponies and such like.
This year’s lambs have been with us for a while now.
My walk ended, as it had begun – with a meeting with a blackbird. Like the first, and unlike the thrushes I had seen, it wasn’t singing, just muttering quietly to itself. Probably had garden furniture to paint…..