I really love this time of the year. Maybe it is because I am an ecologist by training but I have huge expectations – spring for me is the real deal!
I have been out and about today – I have felt the sun on my neck and seen its rays on the plants. I have heard of reports of sand martins in Devon and I have heard the breeding ‘waffles’ of green woodpeckers, the drumming of great spotted woodpeckers and the trills of nuthatches.
Today though, for me was the first real day of spring – I heard my first chiffchaff – a small warbler- a summer migrant – singing in the sunshine and saw my first butterfly – a male brimstone on the wing. Indeed one of my friends saw a comma butterfly in East Devon.
It is also a potentially frustrating time – spring is not here yet, let alone summer – there will no doubt be setbacks. Early spring is a slow motion event whereas spring proper and summer are fast forward!
Every year I enjoy the song of my first willow warbler, the sight of my first swallow and fritillary butterfly.
And then there is the tension of what might happen – will red-backed shrikes (only bred on Dartmoor last year in the UK after an absence of 20 years) breed again? – will dunlin ( a threatened wading bird) numbers increase or decease? – will pied flycatchers ( a quintessential Dartmoor summer visitor) breed again in Lydford Gorge? – will High Brown Fritlillary butterflies ( a nationally endangered species thriving at Hembury Wood) flourish or decline? The list is endless…. So much uncertainty.
But this is the excitement and anticipation.
Much of what I speculate upon centres around rare and unusual things but nature excels at the common also being spectacular – my day was made today at the light catching on primroses at Killerton – perhaps the ultimate herald of spring.