In these difficult times walking in the countryside around Alsager is good for our physical and mental health. Whilst we are confined at home, nature is carrying on as usual, which at this time of year is pretty busy as all the animals are looking to start a family.
The birdsong is particularly noticeable as there is less intrusive noise from human activity.
This is what I have noticed whilst out and about.
28 March 2020
It is late March and within a few yards of starting my walk a robin perched on a branch is singing. It is amazing that such a small bird can sing so loudly.
Spring flowers are bursting into flower in the hedgerows and the grass is now greener. Though the daffodils have been out for quite a while they still look magnificent, which is one advantage of the low temperatures we are getting at the moment. Some can be found in unlikely places far from the roadside verges.
Spring is making progress now with pussy willow heavy with pollen.
I can hear a lone skylark and the mew of a buzzard soaring over distant trees.
Farmers are planning for the year ahead and are out preparing the land for the crops. A tractor is ploughing, turning over the rich brown soil that gleams in the sunlight.
The winter mud is almost gone, with just a few patches left that are easily avoided. By the stream in the wood the woodland flowers are just beginning to make an appearance.
29 March 2020
An earlier start, but still not early enough as there are people out with their dogs already. The daffodils on the main road look magnificent in the early morning sun.
It is great being outdoors. The sky is blue with white clouds floating along on a cold wind fresh from the Arctic, which is invigorating and feels like it has come straight from the fridge, which of course, it has.
The field that was being ploughed yesterday has been completed, with the furrows so close to the edge that it is not possible to walk round the field, as I did yesterday, without having to stray into the deep furrows. The brown earth that was gleaming in the sunlight yesterday is now a dull mat brown.
A grey squirrel is busy looking for food and scampers up a tree as I approach.
1 April 2020
Today is cloudy with flat grey clouds and a very light breeze. Not inspiring, but nice and peaceful.
I am overtaken by a couple of early morning runners.
Past the church at Church Lawton the path takes me through the woods and past the lake. Across the deep valley the trees are bare at the moment, but will soon be bright green as spring turns to summer. I go down the steep slope towards the river and turn left and over the bridge; through the short tunnel of trees, then right over a plank, passing through a gate and up the field.
As I approach the freshly ploughed field I see that some people have reinstated the footpath that the tractor had ploughed up a few days before.
The crows are arguing in one copse and a woodpecker sounding in another.
11 April 2020
A warm day and just getting light as I set off. As I am crossing a field, on my left I see a young tree in blossom growing at the foot of a telegraph pole, looking like a parent and child.
Where there were fields scruffy with the remains of last year's crop, now they are immaculate and waiting for this year's crop to grow.
As it's Easter, there are plenty of rabbits on the grass verge at Scholar Green.
The highlight of the day is a nice notice by a cottage reminding us all to 'Be Happy'.
15 April 2020
Another warm, bright sunny morning. There is a hint of early morning mist on the canal and a row of ducks starting their day.
The early morning sun provides wonderful views over Cheshire.
19 April 2020
It is a nice sunny day after the rain of yesterday. There is a great view of sunrise behind Mow Cop Castle in the distant horizon.
A few rabbits are around this morning. One is black.
In Lawton Woods, spring is well advanced now with the trees increasingly green and the bluebells in flower.
22 April 2020
It is a much warmer day today. There are some bluebells in bloom by the side of the canal.
I manage to get a picture of a duck with one of her ducklings. The rest of the brood are scattered all over the canal.
A buzzard is circling over a distant copse.
26 April 2020
A warm morning with some light cloud and no cooling breeze from the east, which has been a feature on previous days.
A buzzard glides low over the field then perches on a hedgerow tree .
Down the path there is a sign by the stile which says 'Take care, a colony of lapwings is breeding' – great news, as they are seldom seen these days.
Back in the woods at Lawton Hall the bluebells are out and the trees are at their springtime best.