Monday, April 21, 2008


My sister in Paris is often very good enough to let me know when les martinets arrive in Paris each year. A couple of days later they generally arrive in Berkshire, in the UK.
No word yet, and last year in the sun-drenched south of England in April, the Swifts arrived on St.Georges day here - the 23rd April - IN TWO DAYS TIME!
We are lucky enough to have Swifts nesting up and down our street, and all last er.... cough cough.... "summer", the air was shred with the screams of my favourite bird of all.
That said, I think they'll be another week yet.

Allegedly after a horrid easterly wind over the weekend, we'll revert back to our prevailing south-westerly mid week this week, with temperatures up 7c on last weekend - that may help my Swifts on their journey home...

I await notification from Paris.

Talking of France, Anna and I were treated to a lovely sight of two "Frenchmen" this weekend.
We spent two days with one of my cousins in the Worcestershire countryside, and even though the weather was a bit dour, its always fantastic to unwind in a place where one wakes up to the sound of lambs bleating and Rooks cawing, rather than suped-up Vauxhall Novas hissing down the road, or Eastern Europeans shouting at each other over a can of rocket fuel.

The "Frenchmen" in question were Red-Legged Partridges - the more flamboyantly-coloured of our two Partridges here in the UK, always VERY nice to see.
Unfortunately the only shots I got were from inside my Cousin's house, through double glazing and drizzle, so not the best photo's in the world I'm afraid.
(In case you weren't aware, the Red-Legged Partridge is called a "Frenchman" in slang, as the orangey/red legs of the bird allegedly reminded people of the red trousers the french military used to wear....

Now then.
Each year in March you'll hear the same nonsense, often from the same mouths regarding:
"OOOoooh! A bumblebee! Spring gets EARLIER and EARLIER eh?!"
"Is that a WASP? In MARCH? That's global warming I tells ya. We're ALL DOOMED"
Ya dee ya dee ya. Uninformed hysterical clap trap.

This year more of the same I'm afraid - specifically regarding Daffodils (some American hybrids flower at Christmas time dopey), Wasps and a Cuckoo that was allegedly heard in February or something daft - That would be a Collared Dove. (Go get yourself an extra gene).

It has become increasingly clear this year since March, that over vast swathes of the country, spring is actually LATE this year. Unequivocally so.
My cousin is a farmer, and we spoke at length to two more on the subject, during our weekend in Worcestershire.
Ask any farmer about acres of grass or bales of hay, or whether their dairy cows are out on pasture yet.
You'll get similar answers from all over the country.

Anna and I will check on our Bluebell Wood later this week (with luck), but I think now it may well be another week or ten days. Remember they exploded around mid April last year (albeit after a bone dry month with temperatures well above the summer average).

Yes folks.
Spring is LATE this year. With luck it might arrive this week, and STAY!

I hear (after writing this that ONE (unconfirmed) Swift has been seen in Berkshire at the back end of last week). I still think it may be a week before they start to arrive in numbers...


Jane said...

I love your partridge pic. Beautifully composed... if I may say! I agree spring IS late (or is it just NORMAL - god forbid!) Our bluebells are fully out in the garden, and I saw a gorgeous verge of cowslips (or were they oxlips?) yesterday which I photographed. I've seen swallows... but no swifts yet (although to be honest - and I hate to admit this - I still have difficulty remembering which is which). We are supposed to have sand martins in the village as well (in the old sand pit) so I will look out for them. Saw them at the London Wetland Centre last year... but not in Dorset. Went on a badger watch last night and watched badgers feeding in daylight at 7.30 in the evening! bit wet and bedraggled (them not us - we were in a hide) but great to see. When are you both going to come and visit sunny Dorset??? Jane

The Black Rabbit said...

Funny you said that about Cowslips Jane - the A417 and A419 cut-across from the M4 to M5 is festooned with verges of Cowslips on both sides!
Ah yes.... Darzet. We should really do that this summer eh?
For a pint of Tanglefoot if nothing else, eh?!

The Black Rabbit said...

And yes - you're probably right Jane.
Spring is either LATE or NORMAL! (Later than last year anyway!)

Jane said...

They were talking about spring being EARLY again today on the news. I can't see it!

Darzet and Tanglefoot... just let me know when you're coming and I'll set up a wildlife fest for you!

I saw an Orange Tip butterfly in the garden today. Another first for me. Roll on spring!


electrichalibut said...

I've got bonobos nesting in my privet hedge. Do I win £5?