I've had a very busy few days, taking a guest to see the sights of town - perhaps slightly over-enthusiastically as I gave her blisters yesterday - but with conditions like we've had, it was far too good to waste.
Sunday was just a staggeringly nice day, the sun blazing down on our backs as we opened the front door and headed in the direction of Sconce and Devon Park. As soon as I walked down my driveway, ladybirds, big queen bumblebees and peackock and small tortoiseshell butterflies were dancing in the warm air.
After a few false starts, this was the new season in all its joy.
We walked down Boundary Road, and just after how I exclaimed how to me the emergence of the bright yellow brimstone butterfly males was the true marker of spring, one beautiful specimen flew across straight in front of us.
It was a pleasant change to be walking, rather than running painfully, on the Newark parkrun course, and robins and blackbirds serenaded us as we ascended the bark path. The Orchard was alive with bees feeding off the hawthorn blossom, you could hear entire trees all a-buzz, as long tailed tits and goldfinch flitted amongst the other trees.
Sadly Hawton Holt was closed on a Sunday, but Rumbles cafe wasn't, and it was a great feeling to have a cup of tea in the warm sun, and watch happy families using the park, and see the butterflies and bees meander hither and thither.
Yesterday there was a Northerly chill in the air that occasionally bursts of sun could only take the edge off. The butterflies stayed in bed, but there were a few bumble bees about in the cemetery, as squill emerged to take over from the over snowdrops, and the just past their peak crocuses. The male great crested grebes look magnificent at the moment, and even Leroy the muscovy seemed to be sporting an even redder face than normal - I'm told he's been seen being amorous with the local lady mallards and domestic ducks.
But it was on the path up the hill from Clay Lane to Beacon Hill estate that I heard the sound that really excited...the aerated two tone whistle "CHIFF CHAFF" sounding out over the woodland that straggles up the hillside. There was indeed a chiff chaff singing its song, the first I've heard in Newark this year, and how pleased I was to explain to my companion about this tiny bird, the feathered harbringer of wamer times.
Now, we await the sand martins, first of the hirundines.