I heard my first Willow Warbler of the year today. The trickling notes of this tiny summer migrant filled the air at the League’s St Johns Wood wildlife sanctuary. I was there to check on the progress of contractors thinning out some of the maturing Sitka Spruce trees, but as usual I got distracted by the wildlife. Stonechats perched on top of bushes ‘chatting’, whilst at the tops of trees Chiffchaffs chirped out their repetitive chant. As I walked along the bridleway a Meadow Pipit flew up issuing a disgruntled ‘pipit, pipit’ as it went. I am not an expert in birdsong, so I appreciate it when birds obligingly call out their own name. Overhead there was the distinctive ‘kronking’ of a raven as it passed lazily by and in the distance there was the unmistakable mewing of a buzzard. In our busy and noisy world many people have lost the ability to hear birdsong, let alone identify the species, and it is such a pity that they miss out on nature’s chorus.

The pond in St Johns Wood was constructed as a water source in case of fire, but it too was brimming with life. Pond Skaters scooted across the surface, water boatmen rowed along just below the surface and diving beetles rose to the surface to grab some air before diving back down to the depths. Tadpoles wriggled around in the shallows and newts made the most of the sunshine to continue with their breeding activities.

Back at Baronsdown a Roe buck has taken up residence in the woods. Shy and solitary by nature, it is always a pleasure to have a chance encounter with a buck, a doe or a kid on one of the League’s sanctuaries. Unfortunately, there are still a couple of packs of buckhounds on Exmoor that continue to chase and kill Roe Deer for sport.

Primroses are the flower of the moment on Baronsdown. The Primrose is literally the prima rosa or the first flower of spring. Primrose Day is officially 19th April, but no one has told the flowers and great swathes of them festoon the hedgebanks and steeply sloping fields.