After a very windy night, today I took a walk in Whisby Nature Park. It's quite near here, just south of Lincoln. I think it was formed out of old sand and gravel workings. We used to go there quite often at weekends when the children were young and the dog was alive. The wind had died down a lot but it was still blustery. A low sun emerged out of cloud from time to time, transmuting the dull pewter of the ponds and lakes into shining silver.
A stoat streaked across the path near Grebe Lake, the black tip of its tail clearly visible. A grey squirrel shot up a tree. I only caught a glimpse, as grey squirrels always seem to climb up the other side of the trunk, the side hidden away from any human observers. On the lake itself the usual coots and moorhens and tufted duck bobbed about. And the odd pochard. And a pair of goldeneye, 2 pairs of shoveler and 3 pairs of gadwall. Overhead screamed black-headed gulls, their heads now darkening into chocolate-brown breeding plumage.
It was a little too early for the chiffchaffs and willow warblers, those first spring migrants, and much too early for the nightingales, for which the Park is well known. This is the only place I've ever seen nightingales. You can get very close. They're beautiful close up, not boring brown birds at all. And their song really does live up to all those romantic hyperboles.
Some small Shetland cattle (a rare breed) were lying down very still and quietly on the Grazing Marsh. Just beyond, the pitted Sandhills were awaiting the eventual return of their sand martin colony. On Willow Lake I saw a single little grebe, several great crested grebes, a few more gadwall - and a raft of perhaps 20 shoveler duck feeding in the middle of the lake. And gathered on one rough patch by the lakeside, clumps of purple-stemmed colt's-foot were bursting through. The yellow eyes of these flowers are fringed with long yellow lashes.