Everywhere I looked along this quiet country lane, I saw wildlife seeming to revel in the warm sunshine. To one side of me lay mile after mile of open fields and hedgerows, to the other was the gentle River Steeping. Both boasted verges bursting with wildflowers of yellow, white, and the odd splash of red (yes, a couple of poppies have made their appearance already!).
I’d travelled over to Lincolnshire for the long Bank Holiday weekend and had taken Scamp for a walk in the historic market town of Wainfleet, just five miles inland from the east coast. The village itself is picturesque with its central marketplace and tiny but impressive clock tower that was built in 1899. Many of the buildings here are Georgian and Victorian, but its most impressive is the Magdalen College Library, which dates back to the 16th century.
Now though, all thoughts of the Tudor period left my head as I looked around this quiet country lane, that starts at another local historic point of interest: Bateman’s Brewery, which has been owned for generations by the Bateman family.
Here there were the almost obligatory Swans and Mallards, and a pair of Great Crested Grebe (this is quite a late spot for them, they are normally here for early spring). Swifts and Swallows swooped overhead, flicking and twisting in the air so quickly it almost made me gasp out loud. Then I saw a pair of more unusual birds that caught my eye...
The outline was distinctive: a slender, aerodynamic body with a profile that must have inspired Concorde, but far sleeker, sharper, more beautiful than the aeroplane; slender wings too that tapered to a sharp point; and then the final giveaway, the forked tail. It was a pair of Little Terns flying slowly over the water, hovering, then…diving rapidly, emerging with a fish in their sharp beaks. Wow!
That sight put a real spring in my step, and as I continued to watch them as I walked along my only distractions were the many butterflies. Red Admirals, Small Tortoiseshells, Orange Tips (so many they looked like tumbling blossom), Small Whites, Large Whites, all filled the air, flitting from plant to plant.
It really was the perfect start to the bank holiday!
WILD CARD: The Great Crested Grebe is our largest Grebe. Their wonderful head feathers of black crest and chestnut ruff really come into their own in spring when the birds shake their heads continually in courtship display. They also gather reeds in their long pink bills and rise our of the water to present them to one another.