Brighten up your day with Sue Grant’s weekly updates of what’s happening early doors in her garden this spring.
“We needed the rain. It came, or did it? By the weekend my thirsty almost parched garden had seen just one ten minute shower, then overnight drizzle. In the morning the grass (and underlying moss) looked refreshed. Dandelions and buttercups suddenly raised their heads in joy. But beneath the tree branches and the thick foliage of the shrubs, the ground remained hard and untouched by moisture.
“Early in the mornings, rather than stalk the wildlife, I sometimes just sit and listen. Contrasting sounds. In the distance delivery lorries rumble along the A66, while the local tractor chugs its way to work. A cockerel crows, the pheasants squawk and the plaintive bleating of young lambs drifts across the fields. And all around the birds sing.
“No, “sing” is not the right description. High in the sky ravens croak and buzzards mew, in the hedges sparrows chirp, dunnocks tweeter and a fat young blackbird squeaks. The wrens chat-chat in alarm, the wood pigeon coo-coos and the chaffinches splutter. Hidden deep amongst the oak leaves above me a blackcap pours out his excited scramble of melodies, whilst from the top of a tree across the lane the greatest vocalist of them all, the song thrush, calls out to anyone who will listen: “Did he do it? Did he do it? Did he do it? Yes he did. Yes he did. Yes he did. Come along now. Come along now.” I could listen to him for hours!
“As I stand, a faint rustle among the still-dry leaves turns my eyes to the ground. A slight movement, a pause, and then a tiny streak of brown amongst the tree roots. I freeze. A pause, then two more little field mice dart towards their hole and disappear.
“Just then the air is filled with a fascinating tinkling, twittering call as two goldfinches flutter across to the apple trees. I try without success to catch their bright colours on my camera: the deep red around the sharp black eye, a creamy white band running from the crest down the length of the breast, tinged with pinky-beige and edged with black, and golden brown wings sporting bright yellow tips.
“As I watch this dainty little pair flitting around the apple blossom another very slight movement to the left catches my eye. Again I freeze. A wren appears very near to where it is nesting carrying a soft grey feather in its beak I do not move. The wren does not move. We stay in our frozen tableau for at least two minutes until, with a last twitchy look around, he darts silently into the nest-site. I breathe again.
“The stars of the week, however, are the house martins, gliding and swooping low under the eaves as they start their nest-building. Their twitterings and chatterings high in the sky reassure me that summer is on its way.”
See all articles from Sue Grant’s column about what’s happening early doors in her garden.