The first of the years flowering shrubs have begun to burst into colour in the garden. The yellow Forsythia and the pink flowering currant, Ribes. This is an exciting time as it indicates to me that spring has definitely arrived and from this point onwards there will be no turning back.
A blackbird is building a nest in one of the flowering currants at the front of the house while a magpie is repairing last years nest in a tall willow tree at the back. Magpie's are predatory birds and if they discover the blackbird nest they will steal the eggs, and the chicks, to feed their own brood, and I'm afraid it will be bye bye blackbird.
Frogs have begun to spawn in the pond, I'm finding them all over the garden and I've had to lift the net to allow them access to the pond. The females, swollen with spawn, carry the smaller males on their backs, sometimes two at a time, as the males jostle for the privilege of mating. It's all just a waste of time, although I'd never tell them so, because as soon as the tadpoles emerge the fish will eat them and few, if any, will survive.
A saw a shrew the other day nosing about in the leaves. I assume it was looking for worms or woodlice. A while ago I saw one attack a frog twice its size. The frog jumped into the water and submerged with the shrew still attached. I expected the shrew to let go and return to the surface, as did the frog I suspect, but it didn't. It may have been a water shrew, they have a venomous bite and can stay underwater for long periods of time. I waited for ages but I never saw either one of them return to the surface. Did the shrew drown or did the frog die from the bite, I don't know, but if the shrew killed the frog, how the hell would it get it to the surface? Perhaps it would leave it on the bottom and keep returning to feed, I'll have to make enquiries.
When I was young sparrows and starlings dominated the bird table, but both of these species have suffered a decline, while blue tits and great tits have become the most common birds in my garden. I tend to treat them with contempt, as I once did with the humble house sparrow, but they are attractive little birds and have a lot to offer the observer, as they search among the shrubbery for grubs and caterpillars to feed their offspring. I'll have to put up a bird box so that I can watch them more closely, maybe one with a camera inside?