Spring in full swing
Where can I start? Nature is bursing out everywhere, with spring is in full swing, and things are changing by the moment. Leaves are unfurling, flowers bloom, insects emerge to feed, birds appear to feed on the insects. Appleton Wiske is bursting into life, and if you blink, you miss it.
As soon as the sun comes out, insects emerge, as if from nowhere. No wonder people used to believe that life was spontaneously generated.
As soon as the leaves open, things begin to feed on them. Looking at a patch of nettles, they’re not even grown yet, but the opened leaves are peppered with holes: something has been eating them. Some of the leaves are folded together, held by a spider-web like material. Something has done that, creating a secure little den. Various other insects crawl on the nettles, while a spider scuttles into hiding. That small patch of nettles is a whole micro-city of life.
I love to watch leaves unfurling, especially on the trees. They begin at the bottom: some trees have a mass of twiggy growth around their bases, and the leaves here open before those on the canopy above. Here are some pictures of various leaves opening.
While the insects emerge to feed on the leaves, the birds are busy preparing their nests. The village sparrows are very noisy and agitated, flitting here and there, chasing each other to mate, collecting nesting materials, and generally being very busy.
Interestingly, the sparrows, like many other birds, seem to favour living in the village, rather than out in the hedges between the fields. The birds flit from the village to the hedges about a field away, but I rarely see a sparrow further away from the village. Perhaps it’s because they build their nests in our houses – here’s a picture of one carrying her nesting materials.
Meanwhile, in the pond, a huge cloud of frogspawn floats in the murky depths, its central black dots turning comma-shaped as the tadpoles grow. The water is filled with tiny water-fleas, dashing in every direction at once. These fleas become the food of the tadpoles; great for the tadpoles, lousy for the water fleas.
In the air, the midges similarly flit around in every direction at once. When the evening sun slants sideways, they catch the light and sparkle.
Like the water fleas, the midges become food for something else: in this case, the bats that emerge and flit around the garden as the light goes. The bats emerge at just that point when the light has faded all the colour out of the world, and darkness is almost, but not quite, upon us. It’s a magical time, when much our our wildlife comes out. You can hear it rustling and scurrying in the undergrowth: but our human eyes can’t see it.
Appleton Wiske is bursting with life.