In these uncertain times, the natural world is a welcome relief to us, in all its unfurling, blossoming, buzzing, singing beauty. How fortunate we are to live where we do, to step out of our home and be surrounded by the sights, sounds and smells of nature. Spring has arrived at a time when the life, brightness and golden evening hours it brings are made just that little bit more enrapturing.
On our daily walks, Cain and I have all the more acutely set our senses to listen and look for new visitors; migrants returning from their long, tiring journeys, or wildflowers emerging from darkness into a bright and welcoming world. There can be comfort found in the reflections between our own journeys and those of the natural world, and I find myself more naturally doing so of late.
We have been using this time to connect further with the nature of our patch, West Woodburn. Discovering secret spots for guaranteed wild encounters with the likes of Goosander, Dippers and freshly awoken Bats. When we think of Spring, greeting card-like images of beaming daffodils and cloud-white lambs come to mind, and West Woodburn is certainly picture perfect for this. On every walk, I have been taking photos of daffodils in the sunlight, because the light is always just that bit brighter the next day, and cooing over the tiny lambs – new life welcomed to the world.
However Spring brings with it a brimming assortment of wildlife, some from exotic descent, to our gardens and villages.
Onomatopoeically named Chiffchaffs, displaying subdued brown-yellow plumage, truly welcome the return of Spring. Their distinct “chiff-chaff-chiff-chaff” bursting from scrubby trees, bejeweled with fresh, unfurling buds, tells us that they have returned from their migration in Africa to share their summer with us, as they prepare for the busy nesting season. Birdsong at this time of year is particularly varied, and beautiful, and seeps longer into our days with extended sunlight hours.
Wherever you live, you will hear the music of birds. From Robins, Blackbirds, Wrens, Jackdaws and Starlings starting the daily symphony at dawn, to their fading departure at night, and everything in between.
On the River Rede, which reflects diamond-like light at certain times of day, aquatic birds sing too. Dippers, named for their bobbing, dipping behaviour, call in flight. Look quick! And you might be lucky enough to catch a glimpse. Further upstream, Grey Wagtails, with stunning yellow plumage underneath, sing and catch the newly emerged freshwater life – Riverflies, Caddisflies and Midges are on the menu. A pair of Goosander ducks drift by cautiously, the male displaying an attractive contrasting plumage, slightly unnerved by our presence, whilst exotic Mandarin ducks fly overhead – more akin to a tropical jungle than our humble Northumberland patch.
We have encountered so much life this past week on our walks. From Tree Bumblebees, Bats, a myriad of Moths, riverside wildflowers including Wood Anenome and Celendine, not to mention 62 species of bird, I could go on. But I will leave you to enjoy the birdsong which we all share together– even if isolated from each other.