A countryside spring

I live in a rural valley in the middle of ancient woodlands in West Sussex. Our garden and the fields in this valley are lined with hedgerows and a home to wildlife. But it wasn’t always so.

When I was in London I noticed the signs of spring because I always had a garden. We even had a house with a secret garden door into a park. When I was a young journalist working two years in New York City, I bundled up and tramped through snow drifts after a blizzard so I would be the first to grab a cheap rental with a rooftop garden.  Soon, with a skyline view of the city, I grew vegetables and herbs in rows out on its high terrace.

Now I have a countryside spring I notice different signs of its arrival.  What stands out for me these past few years are the hedgerows covered in blossoms, wild flowers along the edge of paths and lanes, baby lambs making fields look like playgrounds, and the heightened activity of wild birds. On a recent sunny afternoon the does in a herd rested in the next door field – how many of them will soon be mothers?

Countryside Spring SwallowThis past week I saw the first swallows. They’re beginning to return after their winter migration in South Africa. Last year I’d wake up every morning to a dawn chorus as they sang outside my window on the telephone line.

Countryside spring tits flying by birdfeederMeanwhile as soon as I refill the bird feeders hanging in a pussy willow growing out of one of our hedgerows, the air around me is filled with the flurry of tiny flapping wings. The tits flitter in and out of our hedgerows as if there’s an apartment complex inside. The sparrows head back to their roosts in a barn nearby.

Countryside spring kestrel huntingA kestrel also showed up again for the first time this year. The only reason I don’t mind that there’s a power line messing up our landscape view is that it’s a favourite perching spot for kestrels to scan the field for their next meal. Sometimes they swoop right down for their prey while other times they hover above with wings wide open in perfect control before descending in a silent swoosh.

Countryside spring hedgerow blossomsCountry spring blossomsBlossoms HawthornThe hedgerows are turning into abstract designs of white as the hawthorns and other shrubs fill with small blossoms. I know that come autumn I’ll be picking blackberries, sloes and wild plums. This year I’m also going to make sure I make elderflower cordial – and perhaps elderflower champagne too. Our drinks cupboard already has sloe gin, sloe port, blackberry vodka and wild plum gin all made with the fruits from these hedgerows. The white blossoms are the first step in this annual cycle.

Countryside spring pheasant henThe wild pheasants keep stopping by our garden. Females nest in fields and along the borders of hedgerows. I watched yesterday as one pheasant hen stood still for ages in the shade of our hedgerow, perhaps contemplating if it was a good spot for laying eggs?

Countryside spring baby lambsCountryside spring baby lamb and ewe motherSpring in the British countryside also means baby lambs running around the fields. In a farm shed this week I watched ewes with their little lambs. Soon they’ll be back out in the fields too.

Countryside spring wild flowers

ComfreyCountryside spring blue anemonesCountrspring wild flowers next to hedge

Cuckooflowers and bluebells

It’s also the time for the return of wild flowers. Along the woodland paths and our country lane they’re reappearing all dressed up for a spring dance with the changing tunes of April winds.

14 thoughts on “A countryside spring”

  1. Hi Kriss – I have to go to the UK unexpectedly after a family death so I have not had time to read any #AnimalTales posts this week and I will do so when I get back. Please note there will be no linky this coming Tuesday – sorry.

  2. Despite the cold spring (we had ANOTHER frost this morning) the wild flowers are in full bloom and looking fantastic. I just wish it would warm up so I could get on in the veg garden. I have never been this late starting. But our ewe and lambs arrived this week and we are hoping to get some more lambs when I am back from the UK again next week.

  3. You are so lucky to live in such a wonderful place. We live on the edge of a city and if it wasn’t for the neighbours cats we would have more birds to watch. I love the diversity of your pictures too, from lambs to blossom #hdygg

  4. such beautiful photos and all unmistakably spring. I must say the biting northerly wind has held our spring flowers back despite a very warm winter. #AnimalTales

  5. How nice to discover your blog properly Kriss. I didn’t realise we have quite a lot in common. I also have a son called Theo, live in West Sussex (surrounded by woods… well on two sides at least!) and I have a background in media. I’ll enjoy following your blog now!

  6. All the beautiful Spring classics Kriss – the lamb stole my heart!

    Funny how we notice different seasonal signs depending on where we live. It feels as though your current location has really clicked with you.

    Thanks you for joining in again lovely x

    1. Yes spring is different for me now in the countryside – especially as it’s like living in the middle of a nature reserve where we are now. Thanks Annie x

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