In Britain, the spring weather follows a fairly consistent pattern. The warmer days of February and early March tend to be followed by a short cold spell at the end of March. This cold snap coincides with the flowering of the blackthorn, hence its country name: the Blackthorn Winter.
This year has followed the tradtional pattern. The last few weeks have been sunny and relatively warm, but yesterday we had squally hail showers and today there was a ground frost in the morning. The Blackthorn Winter has arrived.
I’ve been working a fairly hectic schedule recently (as usual!) and I’ve also been on holiday, so I took the chance of getting out and about on one of my Sunday dawn walks. Getting out of bed wasn’t so easy, as dawn is now about 6.30am, although because the clocks went forward this morning that translates to 5.30am in real terms. Nevertheless, it was good to get out again. It’s become quite a comforting routine for me.
Despite the cold weather, there are signs of spring everywhere. The lambs in the fields are getting quite big now.
Frogspawn has started to appear in the pond – not much yet, but hopefully there’ll be more to come.
In terms of wildlife, one of the fields had been invaded by a gang of geese. They were mostly Greylags, with a few Canada Geese joining in. Not a rarity, but it’s the first time I’ve seen them in the village.
The badgers in the woods seem to be doing fine. Judging by the quantity of dung in the latrines they’re obviously busy at the moment. In fact, I was able to add a few more sites to my expanding map of badger latrines in the area. This is starting to make some sense now, and I can get a rough idea of the different territories. Perhaps come the autumn I’ll try the bait marking approach that Pablo mentioned, putting out food containing coloured plastic pellets so I can monitor the precise latrine sites used by different badger clans. As I always say, there’s always more to learn about badgers.
April is nearly on us, so in another couple of weeks I’ll start proper badger watching again. Watch this space for more details.