I called in at Mickfield meadow last week on a bright but cold spring day. One of the oaks in the meadow was full of chattering fieldfares gathering for their journey - the onset of spring here, being the signal for them to head to pastures 'north'.
The meadow has hardly moved since autumn, the soil temperatures still too low for much growth. But in a sheltered, sunny corner, barren strawberry and dog's mercury flower at the base of the hedge and the first blackthorn flowers emerge.
Walking back to the car along the nearby green lane, I was struck by the contrast of the vibrant almost iridescent green of the 'early to grow' rough-stalked meadow grass and lesser celandine, in comparison to the as yet leafless hedge. But spring is definitely underway - the path was scattered with bud frass, where the pussy willow has burst into bloom and a bumble bee meandered past me, in pursuit of some early pollen and nectar.