1st May - Foxley WoodSpring is absolutely my favourite time of year, so it seemed fitting that on 1st May, I saw my first swallow of the year whilst on our way to see one of my favourite wildlife spectacles. The usually very private ancient woodland at NWT Foxley Woods bursts into life at this time of year, the vast sea of bluebells attracts so many visitors that it is impossible to get into the car park (there are usually a maximum of three cars when we visit). It is wonderful that one of nature's great events interests so many people.
I try to visit the bluebell woods every year - it's starting to be how I know spring has arrived. In addition, I love the assault on the senses that being in a flourishing bluebell woods brings. The perfume is extraordinary when it first hits you. New to me, though, were these white bluebells that we spotted - according to a quick google search, these are quite rare morphs of bluebell which lack the blue pigment (and I'm really hoping aren't a hybrid with the Spanish bluebell).
There were so many other signs of spring whilst visiting the bluebell woods. There were, of course, many other beautiful and subtle spring flowers; wood anemones, bugle, violets (although I am struggling to identify the species of violet...); and bees making the most of the bounty of nectar.
There were other invertebrate signs of spring too, comma and peacock butterflies would obligingly pause and sun themselves, whilst I also saw my first beefly of the year. These small and furry insects, with their absurd-looking proboscis always excite me in spring, although I never can quite figure out why.