This week spring has certainly sprung with frogs croaking, swirling and spawning in a fevered frenzy in the margins of a local pond. Also, nearby goat willow (pussy willow) are in flower. Botanically these trees are known as dioecious plants so the male and female flowers are found on separate trees. Initially, female catkins are easily overlooked, but are attractive in their own right when seen close up. However, very soon they grow long and green. The seeds are woolly and fluffy and are windblown during May and June. The male catkins are more noticeable turning yellow when full of pollen and often attract large numbers of adult butterflies feeding for the first time since the autumn after hibernating during the winter. Perfect timing as on 16 March 2021 my local walk included sightings of small tortoiseshell, comma and peacock butterflies.
The first Covid-19 lockdown is now one year old and the virus has sadly had a massive impact on so many people’s lives. Happily, the success of the national vaccination programme, together with the incredible work of the NHS and the help of so many other people and organisations give signals of hope and recovery. These thoughts were perhaps captured in an image taken last summer during a lockdown walk through Brandy Carr when I came across an NHS rainbow. A child may have simply placed it on the field fence and unknowingly at the time there is a young oak tree with the prospects of hundreds of years of growth ahead of it in the background. Also, during the lockdown periods nature has been our doorstep natural health service and the well-being gift that has kept on giving. This is despite its own struggles trying to survive and maintain a place in our modern world. Hopefully its important role will be increasingly recognised and lead to further actions to help it to become more firmly and securely established as part of our everyday lives.