This Spring is different from last in so many ways. Every Spring is different, but each has Hope written through it. It’s a time when things get better – the days get longer, they get warmer, and the natural world springs into a greater abundance of sound and colours each day. As far as Nature is concerned each Spring is the same in essence but different in detail and in this case the angels, not the Devil, are in the details.
But this Spring is different from last in a more parochial way that massively affects our lives and yet an observer from space wouldn’t notice in the big scheme of things. We have become more accustomed to the impacts of a global pandemic and our feelings have moved from a high degree of worry to a lower degree often masked by irritation with how ‘it’ hasn’t gone away yet. ‘It’ hasn’t gone away at all, and ‘it’ won’t very quickly, but in the UK we have learned, painfully, to adjust to the biology of this infectious disease and half of us have now had the literal and metaphoric shot in the arm of at least one jab.
And this Spring I can visit Stanwick Lakes frequently, on many mornings, whereas last year we were in a more thorough lockdown through command and, in my case, through choice as well. Last Spring was warmer but this Spring has more freedom. Being able to travel a couple of miles each day and then have a one to two hour early morning dip into Spring has been great. Last year Spring uncoiled in my garden, for me, this year I am sampling it in the Nene Valley proper.
Last year I knew there would be Willow Warblers cascading their songs on sunny mornings and Sand Martins over the lakes, but this Spring I hear and see them rather than imagine them. It makes a big difference to my life. So far, my early morning visits have produced Chiffchaffs, Blackcaps and Willow Warblers in song, as well as the resident species, and Sand Martins and Swallows over the lakes as well as, so far, a single Common Tern and a few Little Ringed Plovers. Oystercatchers are back with their piping songs and the wintering Snipe and Redshank are joined by occasional passage Green Sandpipers and Black-tailed Godwits. In the last week the Glossy Ibis which has been a few miles down the valley at Thrapston for weeks has made a couple of appearances at my patch for me, and yesterday a Kittiwake flew towards the nearest sea by heading northeast down the valley towards The Wash.
I’m not adding to my records today as the arrival of the weekly ASDA order clashes with my birding slot, but over the next few days I will, surely, hear Sedge Warblers, see Yellow Wagtails and clock up a few more waders and who knows what else. By the time this blog downshifts on 21 April I may have heard a Whitethroat and a Cuckoo, and a Swift won’t be out of the question, but nothing is certain as Spring uncoils except that it will uncoil in its own time.
Last year, much of this was hidden from my hearing and my sight – I’m grateful and pleased to have it back.