Sweet music to herald the spring
Shooting Times & Country|April 21, 2021
The new season is a time to celebrate growth and regeneration — and an opportunity to prove that we’re still feeling young at heart
LAURENCE CATLOW

I often think that the most wonderful feature of spring is its dynamism. Once it gets going, there is no stopping it. I am writing these words in early April. The last two days of March brought almost high-summer heat, even to Cumbria, but now the wind has swung round to the north, the air has turned cool by day and there is frost at night. But, in spite of this, spring marches on.

Yesterday, both a chiffchaff and a willow warbler announced to me that they had returned to High Park to find a mate and rear a family. In reply, I told them that I was pleased to welcome them back.

Continuing on my way, I saw that the branches of blackthorn and cherry were now covered with budding blossom and every day the primroses shine more thickly yellow under the hedges and along the banks. The cold has not stopped the pussy willows turning yellow or honeysuckle and hawthorn turning green.

There may be snow on the way, but it will not stop the blackbirds and the thrushes, the robins, the dunnocks and the wrens from making sweet music to celebrate the coming of spring. Cock pheasants and woodpeckers make noises rather than music, but they are driven by the same irresistible impulse and they get noisier every morning. Nuthatches, by the way, specialise in wolf whistles, unaware that they are badly out of tune with the spirit of the times.

Challenge

By the time you read this, the pace of spring will surely have brought swallows swooping low over my meadow. Surely, too, blackcaps and garden warblers will be challenging me to tell their singing apart.

Hen pheasants will be on eggs and, in the damp shade beneath the trees, wood sorrel and anemones will be shining white among the primroses, while the first bluebells will be nodding their belled heads gracefully above them.

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