I was away visiting family over the long weekend and the forecast for today/Saturday/Sunday is basically rain, so, yesterday was my window of opportunity with the Oak. Fuelled by my Easter sugar high (M&S’s toffee fudge and belgian chocolate hot cross buns are, without a doubt, the teacakes to eclipse all teacakes. I recoil in mock horror at the sight of dried fruit in cakes/buns/cereal bars/etc. Replacing it with chocolate and fudge; I say again, chocolate and fudge; is a mouthwatering masterstroke in my opinion). Anyway, where was I (other than advertising for M&S)? Oh yes, I arrived at Dellfield at around 10am, without a teacake.
The Cowslips have grown and the Dandelions are all now in full flower. Dellfield is a beautiful sea of yellow and green. I even enjoyed a ray or two of sunshine early on, which helped with this week's Oak photograph.
It would appear that the tree I’ve chosen to follow this year is the slowest Oak to come into leaf in the country! Maybe. At any rate, it is markedly behind a number of other specimens that I’d seen over the weekend and is also lagging when compared to the Oaks up on Preston Hill. I suspect its position on the north-facing slope is the cause. I may have to wait another couple of weeks for leaf burst. Anyway, the Oak bud from Preston Hill has advanced (13 days since the last photograph).
Overhead, a pair of Buzzards were being mobbed by a crow. I left them to it and ventured into Hay woods to take in the Bluebells. They are now at their peak, having begun flowering nearly 3 weeks ago. The scent of Spring. And the woods were alive with the song of birds. Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Wren and Great Tit were the most noticeable but I could also hear the delicate ringing of Goldcrests. As time wore on, and I became more and more engrossed in photographing the flowers, it was the sudden call of the Cuckoo which shattered my concentration and filled me with joy. There’s nothing like it. Having spent the previous 7 weeks fairly unwell and confined to the local area, I’d not had the opportunity to go anywhere a Cuckoo might be. This was my first of the year. I couldn’t have asked for better company. The whole experience seemed to epitomise the loveliness of Spring. Crouching carefully in a shaded woodland, taking in the scent and sight of Bluebells, whilst listening to the hollow, plaintive call of a Cuckoo reverberating around the canopy. Perfect.
If I'd had a little bit of sunshine, I'd have included a photograph of the woodland floor and the carpet of Bluebells. As it was, the light was flat and dull so no chance of a nice shot, unfortunately. One for another day, perhaps.
By late morning, it was time to squeeze in a quick visit to Bovingdon Brickworks. The gully containing the frog spawn has dried up considerably in the last 2 weeks. Hopefully, the water will last long enough for the tadpoles to sprout legs!
There were a few butterflies on the wing, including at least 4 beautiful, male Orange-tips (Anthocharis cardamines). Sadly, they were far too energetic, and not inclined to settle, so no luck with photographs.
The Common Whitethroats have arrived. I counted at least 6 displaying males around the complex. I also came across a pair of nesting Linnets, which was rather lovely. The female was carrying a freshly collected feather to line her nest. A single Swallow flew through, overhead, and a male Great Spotted Woodpecker darted past me at one point. Even at midday, the songs of Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Wren, Dunnock, Chaffinch and, now, Whitethroat were all mingling in the Spring air.