On a bright and sunny morning at Duddon Bridge there were wild daffodils and catkins against a bright blue sky, alder catkins with pendent male catkins and the less familiar female flowers which I hoped to photograph. Beside the rivers of Cumbria grow alder trees. You can trace the course of the RIver Kent (when the river is hidden) if you follow the fringe of alders along its banks. And here beside the River Duddon massed purple catkins open yellow in the spring sunshine. Spring comes later at altitude, climb higher in the fells and you'll find alder catkins in tight purple bud .
A handful of swallows has reached Britain, no more. Migration is on hold as birds sense barometric pressure that tells of wild weather. Held back by strong north westerly winds that scatter bins and recycling boxes about the neighbourhood.
On a theme of recycling, or a Damascene conversion just in time for Easter, Jeremy Clarkson bids to join the Green Party- so radio 4 announced this morning. Let's remember the date and chuck the foolscap into the recycling bin at noon, with all the discards.
Hearing of all those swallows, chiff-chaff and black caps holed up in France, in Europe, I wonder about the vanguard- those hardy wheatear Frances, Michael and I saw on Scout Scar on 19th March. How sleek they looked! Newly arrived from Africa and not a feather out of place.
'Let's go for a new route,' my friend suggested. ' How about the other Borrowdale?' So we parked on the Shap Road and set off toward Huck's Bridge and headed up Breasthigh Road (a BOAT) up onto the ridge.
New Year's Day had seen sharp showers all day. This had to be better. There was sun, a glimmering winter light, gusty winds and hail showers.
The first lambs were due at Bradleyfield Farm on 18 March, as usual. So why were there five thriving lambs, a week old, a fortnight old, in the lambing pens and waiting for this bright and frosty morning to warm up before their first venture onto grass? By the time I returned the ice on the water tank had melted, Brian Bowness had fitted a blue coat onto the youngest and they were in the pasture trying out their new legs. Little leaps, all four legs off the ground. What will this body do? Can we lambs fly, mum? If we try.
Jan Wiltshire is a nature writer living in Cumbria. She also explores islands and coast and the wildlife experience. (See Home and My Books.)