1990 January to April

January 18th
Cloudy patches of blue sky and mild. Last night there were gale force winds and it was quite cold. Snow is forecast. The Hazels at the park and at Belmont have long catkins, while Gorse bushes here and there are covered with yellow flowers. The Ivy over the wall along Darwen Road has green berries on it, just starting to turn black.

Two days ago I was very surprised to see a Pied Wagtail in Bromley Cross and yesterday I saw a female Bullfinch down the Clough. David is always saying he has seen a White Crow, and walking to the Holmes’s we definitely saw a Crow with white wings. He’s not as daft as he looks. The mill pond at Eagley is providing a wonderful refuge for the Reedmace, as it has completely covered the pond and is rare elsewhere.

March 7th
Saw many Great and Blue Tits flying around the valley with Blackbirds, and a pair of Wrens looking for a safe place for their nest. Magpies are beginning to build a nest, and lots of Crows can be seen ready for an easy meal of another bird’s young or chicks. I saw a pair of Bullfinches, and to my delight a pair of Long-tailed Tits which I have only seen a couple of times before. On the 5th we saw a splendid Cock Pheasant in our Clough being chased by an enormous Ginger Tom. The cat accelerated into a gallop, more favouring a Cheetah than a small domestic animal.

My Daffodils are starting to flower, with buds on my Primrose. The Hawthorn’s are bearing their first fresh green leaves; and the Hazel and Alders have their catkins on. Yesterday I found a young lime-green caterpillar stranded on the road, so I saved it.

Holly still has its berries on down the Clough, but there is a Spring smell in the air. Saw Lapwings and Curlews at Townleys. I found a dead Brambling which I’ve never seen before. It was a male with beautiful feathers. I put it in the greenhouse and Kitty ate it.

March 12th
A lovely day with bright sunshine, and so warm that people were wearing T-shirts. A week ago I saw a Ladybird on the path and thought how early it was to see one. Today I counted 27 on the Conifers outside. There were all over. At Belmont on Sunday we saw loads of Frogs hopping around a drained fish pond. They were all adults, probably getting ready to mate and to lay eggs.

Mosses have fruiting capsules on, and Larches have red flowers on among tiny tufts of needles. Up near the Holmes’s we saw a young Grey Squirrel. It was beautiful and very agile. Coltsfoot, Daisies and Butterbur are all flowering, besides Lesser Celandines near the cricket field.

March 16th
Lovely sunny day with blue sky and clouds. The Crows and Magpies are busy making nests. The Mountain Ash has leaves bursting through, while the Hawthorn is already in leaf in sheltered parts.

I have seen several Toads just lately, one I had to rescue from the road. The mid day sun was very hot so I went to check that the toad was not exposed. It had hidden itself in the grass and I poured a circle of water around it so it wouldn’t dehydrate. Tonight under cover of darkness it will probably make its way elsewhere.

March 17th
Very warm sunny day and blue hazy sky. On the way up to Galesbrook I was delighted to see a colourful pair of Coal Tits. The Pussy Willow is covered in white cotton-wool catkins with yellow pollen on them. Hazels have long “wriggly chain” catkins, and in places Elder trees are now covered in leaves.

I rescued a large Toad on the road which was carrying a smaller one on its back. Were they a courting couple I wonder? Several other Toads lay dead in the road. I hate seeing such carnage of wild animals. There were two Herons in the meadow and the domestic Geese were fighting to establish a “pecking” order.

To my surprise I saw a Blackbird with a white chin flying through our valley. It was of course a rare and elusive Ring Ouzel. I was delighted to see one never having taken note of one before. Several times I have thought I heard a Cuckoo, and David heard one in early March.

March 18th
A beautiful warm sunny Sunday with a fresh wind caressing the earth. We went through the Last Drop to Jumbles via Horrobin – where Hob Goblins are supposed to live. Willows have tiny green slivers of leaves on, while Cherries are covered in pink blossom and Blackthorns are bearing pretty white flowers. I saw one dark red Butterfly, and two Small Tortoiseshells, one on our garden. The signs are all for a lovely hot Summer.

We saw three Kestrels flying over Jumbles, two pairs of plump Woodpigeon, two Rabbits scurrying through the rushes, and a pair of Coot on the reservoir. There were also several Mallard, Domestic Geese very much like a Greylag, and two pairs of Canada Geese.

Butterbur is covering shady banks with pink flower heads while Coltsfoot and Lesser Celandine are like stars of sunshine between the grasses. Mouse-ear and Chickweed are flowering, and we were delighted to see a small Wren creeping through the undergrowth.

There have been several grass fires on the moors today as the ground is timber dry. David will probably be fire fighting this week.

March 31st
A beautiful warm Spring day with a cloudless blue sky and a lovely “sniff” in the air. My Daffodils, Primulas, Primrose and Bob Primula are all flowering, besides the golden “sun dials” of the Dandelions. At the farm, Dandelions don’t come out until June. David’s Alders have started to sprout leaves while the Apple Tree is just breaking forth from the bud.

The Elders and Mountain Ash have their first set of leaves on, with the “pin prick” blossoms that have not yet developed. Many Crows, Rooks and Magpie can be seen flying around the area. It’s amazing there are any song-birds left with these all these predators about.

To my amazement we found a clump of Bluebells in full bloom down the Clough near the mill. Bluebells out in March! Amazing. I also saw another blue thing but not half as nice: a fat ugly Bluebottle. Early for them too, while Midges and Crane-like Flies and Mosquitoes are all over the place.

I saw a pair of Ladybirds mating by some Celandines and it tugged at my heart strings. Near the Holmes’s we saw a Weasel with its black tipped tail. It looked like a ginger rat. There were Mallard ducks, Crows, Pheasant and a Moorhen, all enjoying the weather beside a pair of plump Woodpigeons. David said “Where’s me gun?”

Continued 1990 April