Friday, February 27, 2009
In Search of Spring
Bilbo Baggins and I went in search of Spring yesterday and I have to tell you that in this part of England there wasn't much sign of her. We walked along Old Hay Brook and these alder catkins caught my eye. They are one of the earliest trees to flower and are invariably found alongside streams and rivers. In autumn they produce small cones which are loved by goldfinches, siskins and redpolls.
Over the old stone bridge which I think was originally a pack horse bridge but I've never been able to find out anything about it. There were several water-powered mills in this area so I imagine this route would be used to transport lead ore to the mills for smelting and then on to its final destination - usually the coast to be transported by sea.
Signs of life in the field - docks, creeping buttercup and a plant I feel I should know but can't quite bring to mind - ground ivy perhaps?
Over a style and following a public footpath on the other side of the road we attracted the attention of this rather handsome sheep which came racing over to the fence to inspect us.
Practically nose to nose with Bilbo Baggins who was rivetted to the spot - I didn't dare let go of his lead to take a photo of the two of them as he is a sheep chaser and I have to be very careful where I let him run free.
Not really a sign of Spring as it's rare for the gorse not to have a few flowers open - a nice cheerful sight on a dull day though. I believe the flowers make a lovely wine too.
The path goes up through the fields belonging to this farm, it can be interesting the summer months as there are often cattle grazing here! Cows are incredibly nosy and will nearly always come and check you out - just try standing at the gate of a field full of cows and I'll lay odds that inside five minutes they'll start coming over for a closer look at you.
Almost back on the road and I spotted the first of this year's lesser celandine flowers - soon there will be sheets of these cheerful little flowers all over the place but for now there are just one or two members of the advance party doing a reconnaissance.
Finally can I recommend to those of you who would like to learn more about the countryside and its flowers, trees and wildlife a new blog started by my friend Bovey Belle. It aims to pass on all the old country knowledge to those who are interested in learning it themselves and/or passing it on to children who these days are further and further removed from the countryside and the natural world and have never known the joys of sitting in a flower filled meadow and listening to a lark singing as it soars high into the summer sky.