At the start of last week, the Woodland Trust invited BBC Radio 4 up to Archer's Wood near Peterborough after they had put out a press release to draw attention to the fact that our snowdrops, lesser celandines, wood anemones and other plants are flowering earlier these days. Sadly, although the trend is correct, this year proved to be the exception and they found nothing but a few fat buds.
It was much the same at Paxton. We had a bit of pussy willow and a few newts in the ponds, but by Friday we were beginning to see real signs of spring. The weeping willows were sprouting, wild arum was up, coltsfoot was flowering and the first butterflies and bees were on the wing.
By Saturday, there was even more to report, with up to 20 sand martins catching midges above the Kingfisher Hide and chiff-chaffs were singing there too. Some lucky people heard the first black-cap singing and, even more special, there was a singing firecrest in Wray House Garden. A Cettis warbler was hear near the allotments.
For me it is the arrival of the first true spring migrant birds, such as sand martins, that confirm that all is well with the world. However, we normally see them in the first week of March. I suspect that Spring has been bottled up somewhere south of the Pyrenees and the waves of migrants have all bunched up, so we can expect a lot of arrivals at once.
It's like that with buses isn't it? Here at Paxton, instead of a succession of developments, we have a whole bunch of projects on the go at once. The top one is the new Education Centre which arrived on four lorries on Tuesday. By the end of the day, it was up and you could see just how big it really is. This week the Sedum roof goes on, followed by the veranda.
Meanwhile the service trenches are being prepared for the classroom (electricity, water and phone) and for our sewerage system. Later, a 3 phase supply will be installed to run our new pump. It should be all over by May, when we will be into our nightingale season. Bookings are coming in thick and fast.
PLEASE NOTE: There will be some disruption to electricity and access to the centre. Sometimes this will be for an hour, sometimes a day. Please "hang in" with us until it's all over.