I can feel it, it is mild, and I can be birding by about six in the morning. Sometime, if I am very lucky, I can leave work while it is still vaguely light. I did so tonight and with a spring in my step, and my first (and so far only, though that may change) gin and tonic was on the way down at about half six. It does not feel like it has been a long winter, and barring that short spell of frost in January is has remained fairly mild for the whole period. My plants are thankful.
I didn;t get up at six obviously. I lounged around in bed for far too long and didn't make it out until gone seven. There were no birds, and a thousand dogs. Nonetheless it felt good to be out, and there was always the threat of promise. Now is the time. I read today that there has been a Wheatear in Lothian. Lothian! Talk about a world-beater. Ours tend not to arrive until a little later, and my earliest local record is March 15th though around the 20th to the end of the month is more regular. This suggests I have about a week until the first hint, and probably a fortnight before it becomes nailed on. You read it hear first. To say I am looking forward to it is the master of all understatements. As a reminder, here is what they look like.
This is my favourite time of the year on many fronts, not just the birds. I can start de-wintering the greenhouse, moving things that have spent the winter clogging up the house. I can while away hours repotting, rearranging, cleaning and dusting leaves. In turn I can bring things out of the greenhouse and onto the terrace, transforming the landscape into the arid tropics. But best of all is the end of the darkness, I can get outside and actually see things. The sun might deign to warm my face, and I don't have to wrap up as much. It's a kind of newfound freedom that is eagerly anticipated every year, with the bonus of masked bandits bounding down green paths.