Friday, 11 March 2011

Some More Signs of Spring

Then they arrive. Those first days when the winter sunshine regains its power, the car is no longer fridge cold when you get into it, there are daffodils along the roadsides and the daylight extends beyond six o’clock in the evening.

So I set off into Barnes Wood in the afternoon to see if the signs of spring have progressed at all in the woodlands.

Well the first thing I discover is that it pays not to be too optimistic too soon. It is still rather cold outside, even in the sunshine. The trees are still bare, there is still plenty of mud and there are no obvious signs of plants in flower.

But then I glimpse something from the corner of my eye. A little black speck, flying in zigzag lines a few centimetres above the ground. But it is too fast for me. As I approach with my camera it is gone.

I notice the first flower of the year, a solitary daisy at the centre of the churned up ride path. This little unassuming flower now becomes my floral herald of spring. How many thousand of its later brethren will not even get a second glance or a moment of my attention, but this early bloom has much significance as a harbinger of hope.

The sun goes in and the clouds now look dark and foreboding. Seems we are not quite done with winter yet.

Then I spot them, primroses on the ride bank. Though they are hardly in flower this is real progress. Now I see a queen bumblebee. She flies along the ride and disappears into the undergrowth. Perhaps she has found a suitable nest site.

The beech wood floor is still strewn brown with fallen leaves and the empty husks of beech nuts, but a glance upwards reveals hundreds of tiny white buds gleaming in the sunshine.

Homeward bound now; I have seen no butterflies but a glance back at last years thinning out work reveals a thicket of suckers growing from the stumps of silver birch trees.

Finally some real invertebrate action! Small solitary bees (which I cannot identify) sunning themselves on the trunk of a beech tree in Footland Wood car park.

Spring is on the way.

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