© 2014 by Barbara Copperthwaite.

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Close your eyes...

Close your eyes and you can hear the changes nature is creating. Now when there is a gentle breeze, the trees have enough leaves on them to give that wonderful, soft hushing noise created by them all brushing gently against one another. It is one of those sounds that, until I hear it, I don’t realise how much I have missed it – yet when I do, my heart melts with joy.

As I walked into the enclosed area of Henbury Pond, I saw the Grey Heron at the far end. I watched it fishing for a good twenty minutes, while Scamp waited patiently at my feet, not moving a muscle. It stalked slowly, deliberately through the water, lifting one foot, holding it in place momentarily, then moving forward. Found a spot then stayed very still. It spotted something, its head moving in a serpentine way, backwards and forwards, its intense yellow eyes clearly never leave the spot that it was staring at. Oh so slowly it lowers itself…then struck with cobra speed. I saw it get several Sticklebacks, glittering silver as the bird turned them in its beak then swallowed.

I slowly moved on, not wanting to disturb it. Around me buzzed the occasional bee, particularly Buff-Tailed Bumblebees. When in Lincolnshire recently, I did see a particularly magnificent, and frankly massive queen Red-Tailed Bumblebee – this species can’t be mixed up with any other thanks to its black body, and distinctive, bright red tail.

Some Jays gathered together; unusual because they are normally quite solitary birds, but there was a group of seven or eight of them flying together into trees. Something had spooked them to act that way. Later on, I heard the mewling cry of a Buzzard; perhaps that had been the cause of the Jays’ concern.

Further on, I knelt beside some Bluebells to take some photographs. What a joy it is to see them making their appearance. There are just a few brave forerunners out currently, doing a reccie before the rest of the army storms across the woodland floors, and their delicate purple blooms dominate for the space of a few glorious weeks. As I got my camera into focus a huge shadow passed over me. It was the Grey Heron, the shadow cast by its massive wingspan of around two metres, and its impressively tall body (around a metre in height). It was going to the Longpool duck pond.

I started walking in that direction myself, hoping to get a few more snaps, when I saw a lone small white butterfly fluttering over the sad patch where the brambles had been beside the stream, until they were cleared. Luckily, some green shoots are starting to come up there, and the butterfly was making the most of it…but it was too small to be simply a white butterfly. As I got closer I started to suspect…could it be… Yes! It was my first male Orange Tip of the year! Fabulous to see. It was joined by a Small Tortoiseshell butterfly, and the pair tried to divide the tragic remnants of brambles as best they could between themselves, before the Orange Tip gave up and went in search of a better area.

When I got round to the Long Pool, I feared I might have missed the Grey Heron, but it was there, waiting patiently in the water, it’s eyes once more cast down, on the hunt. After a few minutes I moved on, but it did not. In fact when I returned to the park in the late afternoon, it was still there, although it had shifted to one side of the pond, and was now watching from land for some tasty morsels.

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