For the first time since I got ill, I went for a territory walk on May Day. The wind was cold, but the sun was bright, and, although I had (and still do have) a lot to catch up on, I couldn't sit in the house.
Although the first part of the walk is a fairly boring straight line between two arable fields, there were skylarks singing, and then on a grassy field margin, a soft brown blur which caught my eye, and turned out to be a grazing hare. There used to be a decent population of hares in these fields, but I hadn't seen one for years and feared the worst. However, I read The Leaping Hare (by George Ewart Evans and David Thomson) earlier this year, and it taught me that I just hadn't been looking carefully enough, or in the right places. Hares are really shy, are quite likely to sit very still if disturbed, and don't live near rabbits - so that bank where the rabbit colony is was never going to be a good place to look!
Further on, the river winds closer to the road, and there are trees, hawthorn, sallow, willow and ash. Elder, wild roses and honeysuckle grow along there too, and a lot of hedgerow flowers. I spent a fair while trying to catch this lovely golden bumble bee on the white deadnettle.I had intended to take pictures of most of what I found, but the batteries in my camera died on me as I was trying to get a shot of a patch of ladysmocks.
Of course not all of what I saw was pretty. This monster is now endemic along the river bank - and even turns up in gardens every now and then. This is the notorious giant hogweed, which stings worse than nettles and is as prolific as dandelions. The council sprays it every year, and much as I only use organic methods in my own garden, I just feel that with this stuff, sprays are the only way to go.
By the trees there are a lot of small birds nesting and marking their territories with so much song. And then three swans flew overhead, which made my day.
And finally, the swallows have arrived. I was here at my desk in the evening when they came out of the west, with their unmistakeable flight patterns and their air of going exactly where they want to go- and in their own time. Now, although the day is grey and cloudy, summer is here.