As I pen these notes, nature is struggling on regardless of the chilly N.E.winds and no rainfall for ages. It is tough on new arrivals. In a nest in the honeysuckle growing around our back door a blackbird has raised three chicks. I have watched their progress daily from the big moment of five eggs appearing in the nest to now when the ugliness of their part-feathered bodies will soon give way to demanding fully feathered “teenagers”. Immediately after leaving their nest they are still very vulnerable to predators. Their parents secrete them in the undergrowth or bushes. Knowing exactly where they are hidden they continue to supply ever increasing amounts of worms etc. feeding them from dawn to dusk until gradually they become independent. Wrens are famous for the odd places in which they build their several nests. Dolly’s stable has a window protected on the inside by a wire grid. In the cavity thus formed between the glass and the grid a wren has constructed a dome like home, quite indifferent to the pony’s lumbering about just inches away. Next to the stable is a shed which houses straw, hay, mower, garden tools and much else besides. Propped up in a dark corner is a copper syringe. When I was a boy, I used to use this to spray my grandfather’s tomato plants (no plastic garden equipment in those far off days!). This year it forms a prop for a robins nest.. Several gaping yellow beaks appear seeking food when I disturb their nursery. Above them in the roof the usual swallows, which I first noticed on April 14th, have begun constructing their nest I suspect mud could be in short supply!
In the closing days of April it is sometimes easy to forget the harsh North Sea winds. The sun had gained height and, consequently, warmth. The air was calm. The Army Air Corps was on holiday. On such a day a walk took me to a field’s headland where one could look about and see part of three parishes - Earl Soham, Cretingham and Brandeston. It was a peaceful scene with an almost uninterrupted vista of green, the dominant yellow of flowering oil seed rape not yet asserting itself. Had I stood there just 10 years ago, many skylarks would have gaily shrilled their way into the blue sky. On this occasion not one could I hear. Their shrill song as they climbed higher and higher used to be such a permanent melody to the countryside activity It was so familiar and so taken for granted. It is to be hoped they will return in numbers encouraged by more sympathetic agricultural practices. Further on, resting in the middle of a 30 acre field were two roe deer, looking like book ends. They were near enough to the wood side should a quick retreat be needed. Their ears were constantly reacting to every sound in a permanent state of “red alert”