The valley begins to stir with new life and there are subtle changes every day.
The hazel catkins are already flowering in the hedgerows at Christmas and then the snowdrops blossom and we hear the skylarks singing above the meadows every morning. Once that happens things start changing fast, with the first primroses flowering along the stream, collared doves collecting twigs for their nest in the rafters of the hay barn and lambs appearing in the fields.
It’s a very busy time for us, not only with lambing but also incubating hatching eggs for our rare breed poultry. It’s good to pause, though, as we walk through the fields to check the sheep, and look across the valley towards the pine trees on the edge of the National Trust’s Brockhampton Estate, to see the cider orchard blossoming and hear the rattling sound of woodpeckers carving out new nests in the trunks of tall trees by the stream.
The robins are the first to begin singing to defend their nesting territories, followed by the wrens, whose pretty trills and warbles are much louder than you’d expect from such a tiny bird. By March the valley is filled with birdsong every morning and evening.