Early on Monday morning 14 April I parked the car near the Penmaenpool toll bridge which spans the River Mawddach between Barmouth and Dolgellau. The weather was gradually improving as the week progressed but it was still very cold. I'd planned a walk over the smaller hills overlooking Penmaenpool and the Mawddach estuary, with a return route along the old Dolgellau-Barmouth railway track, now a walkers' and cyclists' path. I meandered upwards and downwards (though it felt mainly upwards, curse my aching legs) across these brown and green hills, passing working farmsteads, fields full of sheep and lambs, ruined stone barns. I encountered few birds on this part of the walk except the occasional buzzard. Later however, from the Morfa Mawddach dismantled railway track I spotted pairs of shelduck and Canada geese on the estuary, chiffchaffs in the birch trees and wrens scuffling like mice through the undergrowth. Deep in the Abergwnant Woods I heard a woodpecker drumming. And 5 aggressive male mallards chased one poor female over the marsh and across the trees in fast, frenzied flight. Yes, love was definitely in the air. I regained the car park and drove back to my solitary tent.