Signs of Life - Early Spring in Kibworth

The season of life is here!

Inspiration for getting out and about in Spring 

 

Have you ever noticed at this time of year people become more alive; there is heightened activity and more positivity in general? It must be spring! Of course it’s not only us easing out of the winter torpor but life all around is beginning to bloom. The equinox is just around the corner, the clocks are about to change and I’m looking forward to ever increasing light. Even my reading matter is reflecting the changing season!

My seasonal reading matter. Quite like the cover designs too - very pretty!

I keep getting Facebook posts reminding me about spring, which is lovely, but experiencing the real thing is always best. I hope this post inspires you to get out and feel the ever warming sunshine on your face, relax to the sound of the dawn chorus, and drink in the fragrance of newly cut grass, mown for the first time in months.

Recently on a walk around the Leicestershire village of Kibworth I discovered how wonderful it was as spring was beginning to show her face…

 

Signs of Life

As I set off down the footpath by the school spring was definitely in the air. Pink blossom had started to bloom adding colour to a grey day, the fragrance wafted through the air. Isn’t that the marvellous thing about spring; although the weather and landscape may still be trying to shrug off a bleak and barren winter, new colours and scents begin to make you feel alive again? March is a funny month though – still often quite cold with winds rattling through bare branches. Yet there are those days where the sun finally begins to warm you to the core and thoughts drift to the long lazy days of summer ahead. I like to think of the March winds as blowing away the last dregs of winter dreariness and an abundance of new life then rushes in to replace it.

Spring blossom

As I continued walking the view across the school playing field opened up. What freedom being in the wide open spaces of the Leicestershire countryside! The sun was just managing to break through the pale clouds behind bare trees. And those buds are coming… Come on, you can do it!

 

Blackbird Bonanza!

Further along the footpath I spied a most welcome seat. And what a place to stop; sitting quietly I absorbed the gentle birdsong while blackbirds hopped right up to me! They were so close you could see their throats vibrating as their sweet song danced through the air. Was this a love song from a male to his lady?

One of the most common UK birds, the blackbird’s mellow song can be heard across the nation in gardens and countryside from coast to hills. They are a favourite perhaps partly because they have such a beautiful relaxing song and can often be heard trilling away in the garden. But maybe it’s also because are so easily recognisable. Or are they? Only the adult male lives up to the name with jet black plumage and a bright yellow/orange beak and eye rings. Females are actually brown, often with spots and streaks on their breasts. And juveniles (young blackbirds) can be confused with thrushes or robins because of their speckled brown feathers often with a rich reddish hue and their dark beaks. Then there is the awkward ‘teenage’ in between stage where the juvenile plumage is replaced by the adult look.

Blackbirds tend to be solitary with occasional feeding and roosting aggregation, but no real social interaction. Certainly all those I saw from my seat were busy doing their own thing hopping about ignoring one another. They are normally monogamous (staying with their partner as long as they are alive) and the breeding season is from March to late July with chicks often still in a nest until well into August. The birds only tend to live 3-4 years.

And did you know, the blackbird’s Latin name is Turdus merula (ha ha...)? There is actually a whole group of birds belonging to this genus but that’s another story. Let’s just say there was plenty of ‘evidence’ of Turdus on my seat!

If you want to find out more about the humble blackbird, the RSPB has a brilliant website with loads of info and birdsong podcasts. The blackbird one is soooooo relaxing.

 

Peaceful Parks

Time to move on - where will I find spring next? It turns out Kibworth has a hidden park by the railway line – the perfect secluded spot in which to be entertained by a tree-full of magpies. One for sorrow two for joy, three for a girl, four for a boy… I’ve lost count. How delightful it was to close my eyes and hear the playful wing beats as the birds hopped and flapped among the branches. Spring is such a playful season don’t you think? As I opened my eyes the restless magpies were scattering among the trees, chasing one another. Oops, you missed me! Chatter, chatter, chatter…

Magpies playing in the trees.

I’ll definitely be back there again to see how the space develops and changes through the year. What will happen as the pond comes to life? What wildlife will make its home there?

Then I went to the recreation ground. Not so enticing on first glimpse, but like anywhere in a rural Leicestershire village, once you sit quietly and don’t move, the wildlife comes out. Those playful blackbirds were hopping about again and listening for worms. I love how they cock their heads to one side, a look of rapt concentration in their beady eyes then, suddenly, with a twist of the head and a quick peck out comes a juicy fat worm. Slurp!

The early bird catches the worm (Charles J Sharp, Sharp Photography)

Against the backdrop of childish chatter from the playground I sat and looked around. While the blackbirds hunted their worms out on the open ground sparrows hopped from branch to branch among the hedgerows. A tit nervously darted between trees, a crow cawed and a woodpigeon cooed. I again closed my eyes and a wave of birdsong hit me far more intensely than before. The park was alive! Wings flapped, birds sang, you could even hear the rustle of grass as the birds jumped about. Then it was pierced by a rumble and whoosh as the London train hurried on by and I was brought back down to earth. Perhaps a good thing as it was time to move on.

 

Life in all its Glory!

Just by the roadside the crocuses were blooming; teasing me as they poked through the bed of winter leaves, delicate shades of mauve and yellow in stark contrast to the dark loamy earth. What a promise of new life to come. As I stopped for a closer look the sun pierced the sky highlighting the detail of these joyful flowers. Veins stood out transporting life giving water and nutrients to the petals making them bloom, and beads of water shimmered on the surface.

These crocuses beautifully illustrate the dawn of spring where new life is just beginning to emerge. At the moment many Christians are observing the period of Lent, a time of preparation for the coming of the fullness of life in Jesus Christ at Easter. It seems as if nature is also preparing for this time of intense colour and joy. During this period of preparation, I feel most alive by being immersed in creation and feeling closer to God.

 

How will you enjoy spring? Will you find life in all its glory?