Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Seasonal Changing of the Guard

At the beginning of April small skeins of geese are already making training flights around Sliabh Mannan, preparatory to their annual departure. We used to think their summer destination was Russia but more recent research suggests northern Sweden may be their preferred area.

Just when you think they may have left without saying goodbye a huge flock of a hundred or more will make a grand farewell tour of the moor as they did last week.

Then today the first house-martin and the first swallow arrived on the same day. Sometimes in the past these early arrivals have not been joined by the mass of our summer tenants until a week or more has passed. Sometimes the others follow swiftly.

For the benefit of our hirundine friends I can report midges are already present in reasonable quantities. Ah, the joys of a Scottish summer. Never mind, there are compensations.

Bumble bees are already active in the garden, where the main mid-season daffodils have now joined the early-flowering woodland species with which we are well provided. Most of these latter are already on the way out.

After a mostly barren winter in the garden I always welcome the first spring flowers and feel so sad when they pass.  However, at this time of the year a walk around the garden always reveals new colour and old flower-friends remind us that they were not dead but merely sleeping.

The nights are still potentially frosty at this altitude, but already there is real warmth in the sun and the unaccustomed experience of daylight being longer than darkness to enjoy for at least a few months.

Despite the clutter of windmills that have recently arrived in Sliabh Mannan it can still be a beautiful place to wander about in the sunshine.