27 February 2009
BOING! it's spring!
The first of the frogs is there in the pond and the first butterfly is on the wing, the blackthorn is flowering and so today spring is upon us. Of course there may well be further snow and ice, you can't count those chickens just yet, but we can rest assured it will be spring snow and ice.
For some reason the first frog I've seen this year is a particularly gormless looking individual (but which one isn't?). He sat at the surface in full view for hours warming himself in the sun and is now pictured on any number of local mobile phones - frogs are popular. Relying on the 'keep still and they won't see you' strategy to keep safe from predators does seem somewhat basic. I'm sure a hungry heron would not be at all convinced.
It's the male frogs that appear first each year getting in position for the arrival of the females a bit later once the water has warmed slightly. In a couple of weeks the amphibian orgy will be in full swing.
I hope they are successful breeding this year. The 'temporary' pond (it's been five years) they have had to use in previous years is very shaded and just hasn't provided adequate conditions. Two severe drought years took a toll and it is clear that the frog population in the garden has fallen from the 105 adults counted in 2005. Fingers crossed the wildlife pond, completed last spring, will provide just what they need. We'll know in five years or so. They are slow to grow.
The first butterfly was a red admiral. Out of hibernation and refueling on a big yellow South African daisy. It may have only just woken from a few months sleep but it was too quick for me - so no photo.
In the wood the Blackthorn has opened blossom from the small pearly buds strung along it's twigs. Our plants growing in the shade of oak and rowan trees are willowy open shrubs so different from the gnarled twisted hedgerow plants you can see countrywide. They have the same, and for some end of winter reason, exciting whiter than white confetti flowers - beautiful.
It really is very warm - see - it must be spring.