chiffchaff

chiffchaff

I was clearing up in the kitchen yesterday morning when Robert walked in. I turned to ask him something about weighing a load of young stock that were being collected around lunch time but stopped when I saw his face

“Wow, that’s a big grin! What’s that for?”

“Oh, nothing, nothing.” His grin was growing bigger by the minute “Nothing.”

“But something’s made you light up like a beacon…what’s it, hey? The wonderful, wonderful sun? Oh I know I know…it’s because I’m selling a load of animals today! That’s made you smile!”

Our land, as you’ve gathered, has been badly affected by the last two unprecedented wet years. The farm has all but stopped growing grass and we don’t expect much improvement this year even if the weather is better. Worried at how we will manage to produce enough grazing and forage I made a decision to sell twelve of my young stock. These were being bought by an organic farmer from South Devon who is already ankle deep in grass. My animals will thrive on it!

Robert went all smiley-secretive “No, actually. Though, of course, that does make me relieved and happy.”

“What then. Look at you. Like a cat that’s got the cream.”

He laughed “Weeell, I was just sitting on the bench outside when I heard a chiffchaff…and then, just to make sure it came and sat on the gate. Sat there, right in front of me. A confirmed sighting!”

“Really? Fantastic. That’s earlier than last year isn’t it?”

“A little, most years they arrive on, or very close to, 21 March.”  He went on to say that his records over the last 18 years showed no trend towards earlier arrival, as might be expected from all the talk about climate change.  In fact, although not denying that springs are getting earlier (some years), he believes that many of the trends for earlier and earlier sightings can be explained simply be people looking harder, and making better records. The result, I should think, of all those high profile Nature Watch/Birding programmes on telly!

It doesn’t matter though, whether it’s early or late, to me it’s a sure sign that Spring it really on it’s way. Hooray!

last year's chiffchaff nest with eggs (you can just see them)

last year's chiffchaff nest with eggs (you can just see them)