Spring on Incleborough Hill

Standen Bluebell

Spring is here-believe it or not. Trees are coming into leaf, birds are nesting and a whole range of insects are flying or crawling over or on the heath.

It felt as if spring had arrived at long last! Certainly, the St Mark’s Flies, dancing in their thousands over the Gorse, seemed to have thought so. Tiny silvery spikelets of Early Hair-grass studded the short turf – the rabbits had been busy! Here and there the pale pinky- purple flowers of Sand Spurrey were emerging and flashes of crimson showed where Mossy Stonecrop stood out against the sandy ground. Strange-shaped mounds of green, fashioned by the Bagot Goats, nestled among the taller ‘blasted heath’ of Gorse. But even here some bright red tufts of Dodder were beginning to sprout, having overwintered as ‘buds’, high up in their canopy. In the far distance a Cuckoo called.

Cuckoo eggs in a dunnock nest
Cuckoo eggs in a dunnock nest
Cuckoo eggs in a dunnock nest

Among the verdant green of newly emerged ferns and the delicate birch leaves a Speckled Wood butterfly flew by.

Speckled wood butterfly
Speckled wood butterfly
Speckled wood butterfly

Along the fence line the white flowers of Springbeauty rose from a collar of green – hence their Latin name of Claytonia perfoliata. Stately oaks rested their outspread limbs on the Bracken-covered hillside. A Chiffchaff calls repeatedly.

Chiffchaff
Chiffchaff
Chiffchaff

Away from the sea views Bluebells create a mist of blue. Their drooping flowerheads range from an intense violet through to palest blue and even the odd pink or white. But still their narrow leaves denote that they are our native bluebell and not the cross with their Spanish cousin. A Muntjac deer slips silently by, only to appear later bouncing along the side of the hill.

Young muntjac deer
Young muntjac deer
Young muntjac deer

A cheeky Jay perches on a post and then flies off in a display of blue, chestnut, white and black. In the sunshine the Gorse flowers emit the scent of coconut and the dangling green Sycamore flowers are sweet like honey. An occasional Buff-tailed Bumblebee lazily searches among the vegetation. Near the gate a male Chaffinch atop the newly leaved Rowan sings his ‘racy’ song.