Signs of spring have never been more important than this year when we must stay home.
On 14 March, I heard my first chiffchaff, probably the earliest for me. It was at Spade Oak Lake, Little Marlow in Bucks. That was only two weeks ago, and I had not known that I would be unable to return for some time. It was looking different because of the large amount of water.
The sand bank, which normally harbours plover, duck, gulls and waders, had disappeared.
The footpath was also flooded.
I expect the water has receded now, and I would love to return. Sadly I cannot claim it is an essential journey. So, for me, Little Marlow and Otmoor will remain unvisited—and their many species of warblers will be unheard (reed, sedge, grasshopper and lesser whitethroat for instance). Sadly, too, I shall have to cancel my annual pilgrimage to hear the wood warblers in White Wood on Dartmoor. But of course these are small sacrifices in the scheme of things.
I was so lucky to see a Cetti’s warbler at Otmoor on 26 January. This morning (28 March) on my run I heard my first short blast of blackcap, again my earliest blackcap song. It will be a year when I shall live off the memories of times of freedom and copious warblers.