Dreamed-of sea­son only ever lingers a short while

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - WILD LIFE -

OF The def­i­ni­tion of spring is con­tentious and highly sub­jec­tive. For most peo­ple in­ter­ested in the coun­try­side, the ar­rival of spring is not a date; it is a state that can be felt and ob­served in vari- o ousu s na tu events. We know spring when it’s hap­pen­ing, even if we can’t’t can’t quiteit quite pini pin it down. ddown. New green shoots push through; bird song is more in­tense; the light and air qual­ity changes – - ralra l not sim­ply brighter and warmer but some­how full of vi­tal­ity. Spring is about ex­cite­ment and the prom­ise of

ne new w life. Th The e fifine fine de- tail of f spring iss of greatt in­ter­est too sci­en­tists s moni t toro r- ing ourr cha chang­ingng i ng g c cli­ma­tel im at e through the study of phe­nol­ogy – the e tim­ing of re­cur­ring natu- ral eve-nts.eve- nts. Many of the events that are recorded by a net­work of peo­ple across the coun­try are as­so­ci­ated with spring – the first flflow­eringi flow­er­ing off of colt’s-lt’ffoot,t colt’s-foot, wood-anemone or black­thorn, the first sight­ings of queen wasps or small white but­ter­flies, or the first call of re­tur re­turn­ing chif­fchaffs.

Through year years of such ob­ser­va­tions, we now know that springspri ar­rives in Bri­tain from the south­west, and takes a slant­ing course across theth coun­try at a speed of rough­lyr 1.5 miles an hour.

But we still aska ‘ has it ar­rived yet?’ Ind In­deed we’ve prob­a­bly been ask­ing for at least a month month, prompted by news­pa­pers,news­pape weather fore­cast­ers and posts on so­cial me­dia.me­dia

Long­ing for s spring is a peren­nial fea­turefeatu of our ex­is­tence.

What are youryou per­sonal signs of spring?

Mine have alw al­ways been the first fi­first sightin sight­ings of del­i­cate vi­o­lets, clumpsc of prim­roses in flow­erfl and brim­stone butte but­ter­flies flut­ter­ing pur­posef pur­pose­fully along the sunny edges of woods. How­ever, sight­ingssighti of all th­ese are get­tinggett more vari­able and c can fea­ture in ‘false springs’,sprin those brief warm p pe­ri­ods in Fe­bru­ary Fe­bru­ary, even Jan­uary!

My re­li­able sign of spring is the re­mark­able bee-fly, a lovely bee-like in­sect that can be seen hov­er­ing in front of early flow­ers and us­ing its long pointed tongue to feed on nec­tar.

I haven’t spot­ted one yet so, as the poet Ed­ward Thomas penned, “spring is be­ing dreamed”.

Spring is not re­ally about dates. It is more a hap­pen­ing that creeps up on us af­ter we’ve al­most given up hop­ing. It is the end of a pe­riod of deep long­ing that can start back in Fe­bru­ary.

Then, as soon as we are sure it’s ar­rived, it is al­most as sud­denly gone as plants burst into growth and race head­long to­wards sum­mer and au­tumn fruit­ing, clouds of in­sects mate and die and the com­plex web of na­ture over­whelms our senses.

En­joy the sim­ple de­lights of spring while you can.

Join Mick for a guided walk at Dancersend na­ture re­serve on April 23 and dis­cover the site’s spring flow­ers. Book your place at bbowt.org.uk/ whats-on.

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