Something has changed in the air. Imbolc has passed and there are signs of Spring beginning to appear.
Snowdrops are emerging in the garden, while out in the wood Bluebell shoots are breaking through the leaf litter, Primroses are growing near the stream and buds are cropping up on the ends of branches.
My particular favourite at this time of year is the Hazel with its catkins and tiny fire like red tufts. The Hazel has both male and female flowers on the same tree but the flowers need to be pollenated from pollen from other Hazel trees.
The animals and birds on my local patch are becoming more lively after their winter inactivity. The badgers are busy opening up holes that have been closed for the past year. My local sett is very big and the badgers use half of it one year, while leaving the other half closed. They then move back in to the other half around February the second year. They do this each year, I presume as a way of pest control.
Wood Pigeons are busy sat on the wires nibbling each others beaks and nosily flapping in and out of the conifers and ivy looking for nest sites.
The two Pied wagtails in the garden who up until recently would fight each other for food are now spending more time together and sharing the food.
I love this time of year, it is a time of new life and hope, it feels like a breath of fresh air after the dark, long and cold winter months.