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Week 4 has seen subtle changes. The purple and white violets have all gone, but all the other flowers are still there for those who care to look. More patches of alkanet are showing blue, and a bright yellow patch of oil seed rape adorns the side of the railway line.
The horse chestnut trees fascinate me – all the ‘candles’ are in full flower on one tree, while none of the flowers are open on the next tree. Why?, I ask myself. Suddenly, the hedges have become the beautiful pale green of spring with new beech and hawthorn leaves, while the oak and sycamore trees have started to show their new leaves.
One day when I was feeling very sad, the goldfinches must have known. A flock of about ten were sitting on the telephone wire singing their hearts out, and, even though they didn’t make me happy, they did bring a smile to my face, and make me feel less sad for a while. The healing power of nature.
It’s now week 5 and I’ve been asked why I haven’t mentioned butterflies. The answer – I haven’t seen any on my walks. They’ve been in my garden later in the day, but my walks have been too early in the morning for them to have appeared.
The rain of last week and this week’s wind has made ‘confetti’ of the wild cherry blossom, but nature always seems to find a way of compensating as the first flowers of the hawthorn open. The pale green shoots of new ivy leaves have appeared in the hedgerows and make a striking contrast against the dark green of the old leaves and the black of the remaining berries, which the blackbirds are devouring fast.
More flowers are opening, small but no less pretty for that but harder to see. Some I’ve seen elsewhere already but these on my first morning walk sightings. I’ve seen yellow spotted medick, wood avens (or herb bennet), and groundsel, the tiny white flowers of hairy bittercress, and one of the mouse-ear chickweeds, pink Herb Robert, the lovely blue of one of the speedwells, and the tall white flowered garlic mustard (or Jack-by-the-hedge) which, I’m told, makes a nice addition to a picnic sandwich. I’ve noticed that the cow parsley is growing ever taller and is nearing shoulder height.
Twice, I heard the distinctive tap-tap-tap of a woodpecker across the field, well hidden from view. On Friday, ‘nature’ was at its saddest – I could hear the shrill alarm call of Mrs. Blackbird as I approached her nest, well hidden in the hedge, but couldn’t see a predator. I then realised that the black ‘lump’ on the path was a lifeless Mr. Blackbird. No way was Mrs. Blackbird going to allow me to move him, so I walked on only to be ‘torpedoed’ by a fledgling coming out of the hedge in answer to his mother’s call. The fledgling’s shock at seeing me and ungainly return to the hedge was almost comical. Hopefully, the fledglings are large enough to survive with only one parent.