Duncan was back on the River Nent near Alston yesterday doing some maintenance and remedial work on sections of river bank protection. Shortly after installation last winter the river suffered a severe flood. This scoured out some of the newly repaired banks as it hadn’t had a chance for the roots to bind it all together. The work was to help repair some of this damage and to do a trim of the rather vigorous willow spiling.
However the best part of the day wasn’t the work or even the river but the often noisy signs of spring. Oystercatchers flew past with their piercing call while curlew trilled overhead. The lapwing were flocking and circling with their distinctive pee-wit sound, not yet paired up but still readying themselves for the coming season. On the river a dipper shot out from beneath a small footbridge and overhead a kestrel suffered the attention from three crows.
The first hawthorn may be coming into leaf in more lowland areas, alongside flowering coltsfoot, but up in this Pennine terrain there were very few signs of plants recognising the season; the exception being the willow coming into flower. The morning was sharply frosty but the sun is beginning to find its heat and the day soon became pleasantly warm. This could be the start of spring or a false beginning, the next few weeks will tell.