Month five of my photographer’s nature journal.
And after April, when May follows,
And the whitethroat builds, and all the swallows!
Hark, where my blossomed pear-tree in the hedge
Leans to the field and scatters on the clover
Blossoms and dewdrops – at the bent
spray’s edge –
That’s the wise thrush; he sings each song
Lest you should think he never could recapture
The first fine careless rapture!
And though the fields look rough with hoary dew,
All will be gay when noontide wakes anew
The buttercups, the little children’s dower
– Far brighter than this gaudy melon-flower!
~ Robert Browning
Ah, May. How glorious a month you are. The first week heralded a mini heat-wave in most of the UK with temperatures soaring over the May Day weekend. I say ‘most’ because down here in the south-west we were plagued by yet another coastal sea fret that clung to most of the county for four days. I headed inland on one of those days where it was very warm and sunny, and fortunately the fog cleared up on the hill even though there were no views to be seen from there.
On 7th May I heard my first cuckoo. Echoing out from somewhere over the hills, the sound that heralds spring. Later than usual, or perhaps I have not been listening.
Cuckoo, bring your song here!
Warrant, Act and Summons, please,
For Spring to pass along here!
In early May the cow parsley and other umbellifers (Alexanders, Wild Carrot, Common Hogweed) were beginning to emerge, but it was the bright buttercups and the continuing greening of the hedgerows and trees that were most noticeable. Hawthorn and cherry blossom replaced the Blackthorn.
On 10th May swifts were spotted and the bats returned to the courtyard. The birds are busy now, serenading their would-be partners, blackbirds and robins the most tuneful. And on 18th I was mesmerised by a charm of Goldfinches in the garden, fighting over the feeders and chasing one another around the tree canopy. Bullocks and cows are back in the fields, and for three days and nights the farmyard was filled with the bellowing and sorting and lowing of cattle.
By the end of the month after some rain and lots of sunshine the whole landscape has totally changed. After spring’s cold start, May has been just one thing after another, the lanes are now a froth of burgeoning cow parsley, threaded through with a tapestry of red campions, the deep violet-blue of the English bluebells, curly dock; stitchwort glistening in the shade of the tall trees; ferns unfolding, buttercups rampaging and dandelions making the most of the warmth to flower and set seed; their clocks waiting for the breeze to carry the tiny parachutes away.
The Changing Seasons | May