I was woken by the sounds of a nightingale early this morning and the birdsong has continued on this brightish day. It is lovely to hear after the recent rains. I heard the first cuckoo on 16th April but I am still waiting to see the first swallows and house martins return. The house martins nest each year in the eves on the front of the Dairy, which faces west - it is great to watch them flitting backwards and forwards and feeding their young. There are a great variety of birds in the garden and surrounding fields, and although I am no bird watcher I have noticed flocks of skylarks, several woodpeckers, pied wagtails and a variety of tits and finches amongst them. I must find a bird book to help my recognition!
The orchard was humming this morning - the cherry blossom is beautiful at the moment with a delicious scent. The plum and gage blossom is fading and the apple and pear is just beginning to come out. We planted the orchard in 1997, there are 36 trees altogether, with a row of cherries on the left, a row of plums and gages at the back and a row of pears on the right - in the middle are apples. They are all old varieties associated with Suffolk and Essex, we thought this seemed appropriate as this whole area up until the 1970's was covered with apple orchards - it is sad that they were grubbed up. Only one apple tree remains from that time - but I have an aerial photo of the farm in the 1970's and also some documents from the records office listing the varieties that were here in 1951!
I hope that the recent rain doesn't spoil the pollination - hopefully the sun this morning will help. On Sunday the kitchen garden looked very dramatic in the stormy weather with a double rainbow behind the wall. Beyond the next field behind the wall are two ancient woods - Butlers Wood and Waldegrave Wood, as well as Parsonage Wood over towards the Tye - we often get a rainbow that seems to start in Parsonage Wood and end in Butlers Wood, going across the sky behind the garden - it always looks magical though of course I would prefer sunshine to rain!