As the world was thrown into disarray with the full force of a pandemic, our daily lives were hit by lockdown, slowing and grounding to a halt. For the natural world outside our windows though, spring was just beginning, with days warming, buds bursting, and migrants making their return. Even when our own lives were being disrupted, the natural world was carrying on.
For me, spring has been a real lifeline this year. With the natural world bursting with life, I was able to draw real strength from the return of the swallows, the flowering of the bluebells and the trees becoming cloaked in delicate new leaves. Every moment I could spend out in nature gave me the strength to continue as if nothing had changed, cherishing every moment for what it was. For this I am grateful, and I really appreciate that I am lucky to have the beautiful Dorset countryside right on my doorstep.
As spring begins to make its exit, I wanted to take some moments to reflect on a time that has taught me a lot, brought me some real magic through the natural world, and will be remembered for as many good memories as those eclipsed by Covid-19. To begin with, here are a selection of my favourite photos from this spring. They range from spring wonderment to heart-warming moments, that all mean something to me.
Spring 2020 in photos
1) Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly – The photo featured above was taken only last week, and reminds me of how valuable the time I spend expanding my knowledge of nature really is, including the identification of butterflies and flowers. I found this Small Tortoiseshell butterfly on a 10m long chalk mound that my parents have created for wildlife within our farmland, and it really is coming into its own this year!
2) Bluebell & Spider – When the bluebells are flowering, it has to be one of my most favourite times of the year. As the woodland floor transforms to a carpet of blue purple, I feel at my happiest and enjoy noticing new details each year, such as the spider hunting on these drooping bells.
3) Goldfinch – I love the simplicity of this photo of a Goldfinch taken back in March. The bright colours of the bird vividly stand out from the swelling buds and bare twigs of the hazel in this hedgerow. It was enough to brighten a moment on a decidedly chilly spring day.
4) Stitchwort – Every flower is unique and different in its own way. With Greater Stitchwort, every flower stands out like a small white star, carpeting verges, hedgerows and woodlands alike.
5) Dandelion Seeds – Now as an adult I still hold on to the child-like curiosity that a dandelion invokes. With hundreds of parachuting seeds waiting to fly, this dandelion creates a beautiful fluffy silhouette in the spring sunshine.
6) Lleyn Lamb – This photo is as it seems, a photo of a sleepy newborn lamb, born earlier this year. I am proud to say that I come from a farming background in the heart of Dorset. It has been this that has provided me with a spectacular backdrop to learn about the natural world around me, given me the knowledge and experiences to be able to make informed decisions about how I live my life, and given me an understanding of the important relationship between the environment and modern agriculture.
7) Wild Garlic & Insect – I love to notice the details in nature and get down to the level of the ‘small things’. This may be noticing the curl of an unfurling fern, the patterns on the petals of a tiny flower, or the jewel-like colours of an insect exploring a cluster of star-shaped wild garlic flowers.
8) Sunrise – One of the best times of day has usually come and gone by the time most people have woken up in the morning. A sunrise is a golden time though to get out, listen to the birds singing and watch as the world wakes up around you. There is nothing like it!
9) Dark Rabbit – One of my more unusual sightings this year has to be this rabbit, that has notably darker fur compared to the usual European rabbit. It was small in size, and though showing wild instincts, it was slightly less fearful of us humans. Everyday it could be found sunning itself in a small open area within vegetation situated behind our farm buildings.
10) Moschatel – Every year I try and learn one new species of flowering plant that can be found in our woodlands and surrounding countryside. This year it was the turn of Moschatel. An often overlooked flower due to its greenish colour, Moschatel is also known as Townhall Clock, due to its flowers having 5 faces that make it look like a cube or townhall clock in shape.
11) Chiffchaff – One of my highlights of spring every year is the return of the Chiffchaff. When I hear this bird sing for the first time each year, I feel like spring has truly arrived, so I am particularly saddened when their singing finally falls silent as autumn grips the landscape.
12) Feather – This photo is a good example of the beauty of detail. It is simple, but a spot of light highlights the real elegance of this contour feather, now left to lay amongst the vegetation.
13) Aberdeen Angus Calf – This inquisitive and interestingly marked calf is another photo that connects with my farming roots. Spring is synonymous with new life, from on the farm to the wider countryside, and this little one was just one of many, precious and to be celebrated.
14) Spider & Hart’s-Tongue Fern – Some days I walk along in my own world and the wildlife around me merges into one. Other days the world becomes bigger though and I see every detail pop out at me, such as with this spider making its home on a Hart’s-Tongue fern.
15) Fox Cub – As people who follow my blog or social media will already know, this spring I have had fun yet again using my camera trap on my family’s land. This has to be one of my favourite photos from this year! It was a totally unexpected surprise when this fox cub turned up on my camera trap.
16) Vole Bones – With the return of breeding barn owls to my family’s farm, I had some fun one afternoon dissecting the pellets left by these owls. It is definitely a very rewarding feeling when you are then able to identify the species the bones you find come from. Here I believe this mandible to be from a bank vole.
17) Field Rose – I have always loved taking photos of flowers and capturing their small details. Here a field rose, you can clearly see the reproductive organs from the stamens to the stigma.