There are signs of spring at Ghyll Brow, and of urban encroachment too. Roadside trees have been felled, others show paint marks that seem to spell imminent destruction. Ground prepared for house-building, not a brown field site but pastoral. The lost trees were roosts for bats, large mature trees that hosted tree creepers and woodpeckers. We locals made sure the biodiversity of the site was known, but the trees have been felled anyway. Search this blog for more on the magic of Ghyll Brow, and the threat of urban encroachment. This is even more house-building than we had been told to expect.
Higher up the Brigsteer Road, high on an embankment, there is a single evergreen shrub where flowers appear in February, Daphne laureola. Up on the wall it should be safe from development, but you never know. You can flag-up trees that ought to be protected and you lose them anyway. Cumbrian Contrasts presents my best flowers of Daphne laureola, close-ups I took up on the top of the embankment. Today's flowers I took from below. Unless you know to look you may miss them because they are a fresh and subtle colour, sometimes hidden by evergreen leaves.
The morning began brightly, cloud and mist prevailed, then the sun shone through. A wintry sun peeped through clouds, with a foreground of winter ash on Scout Scar. A pair of corvids, rooks I think, seemed to have tomorrow's Valentine's Day in mind as they courted in a tree growing just below the cliff. A whitewashed farmhouse shone through the mist in the valley below. I crept closer, knowing that I'd lose the birds any moment, because the sheer cliff face would block them out. I like that sense of the steep escarpment protecting nesting birds, hiding them, keeping them safe.
Jan Wiltshire is a nature writer living in Cumbria. She also explores islands and coast and the wildlife experience. (See Home and My Books.)