Country diary: magical moments that herald spring

Country diary: magical moments that herald spring

Ladybower, Derbyshire: Song thrushes pass their repeating phrases from one to the other, as I cycle along through this musical bubble

Late afternoon and cycling alongside Ladybower reservoir, I was enjoying that loose-limbed ease you get from moving in warm sunshine, how you realise that your body has been tensed for months against the cold. I was musing also on the arrival of spring, how something long anticipated can be so uncertain in its arrival. Were we there yet? This was certainly the first warm and sunny afternoon of my year, and it fell pleasingly on the equilux – the date a few days short of the equinox when, as the name suggests, light and dark are equal.

Exact dates don’t mean much in the ebb and flow of seasons though. Many birders hang their vernal hat on the chiffchaff’s two-tone clarion, echoing another maxim that characterises spring as “warblers in, thrushes out”. Not all thrushes, of course, and as I cycled towards the viaduct that stands above the drowned village of Ashopton, I became aware of the repeating phrases of a song thrush, “no mean preacher”, as Wordsworth called him, cautioning me to be a little more attentive and a little less absorbed.

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