A movement on the surface marks the buoyant arrival of a water boatman from the dark depths. At the edge of the pond, where the sun still catches it, a dainty creature clings to the bogbean leaf, buffeted by the breeze. A damselfly, freshly emerged preparing to take its first flight.
If you have never seen this marvel, it's certainly one to watch out for. As the water warms up through spring and summer, the larval dragonflies and damselflies that have spent the past year or more under the surface, climb up on plant stems or rocks to break from their skins and unfold their wings, ready to start the aerial phase of their lives.
Today is one of those beautiful warm sunny days with a cool breeze, welcome after a number of days and nights of strong gusts and rainfall. As I suggested in yesterday's blog, I headed out for a morning walk on the patch to see what changes the season and rough weather had brought. It seems most of the local trees have withstood the winds far better than the birch in my neighbour's garden which has lost many of its new leaves. The hedgerows had put on an amazing spurt of growth since my last walk, taking on an almost unbelievable shade of bright green and a fuller, thicker appearance. From the spreading leaves of the oak to the white lace of cow parsley, there were so many beautiful sights of late-spring. The hawthorn at the end of Pitsham Lane is just coming into bloom, filling the senses with the unexpected smell of sweet almonds or marzipan.
I recorded the sights and sounds of my walk through photos; I captured the light through the new leaves, and the quiet exuberance of the flowers, but unfortunately many of the birds were too flighty or too busy with their lives to sit for their portrait...
Birdsong filled the air; at New Pond a moorhen clucked from the tangle of willow branches on the far side of the water and a grey wagtail attempted to call through a beak-full of insect food for hungry nestlings. From the trees along the edge of the Bepton Road allotments, the voices of blackbird, song thrush, wren, robin, long tailed tits, and blackcap bombarded from hidden perches. Many of the same species could be heard along Jubilee Path, joined by chiffchaff and wood pigeon. Goldfinches seemed to be at every turn, on rooftops along Wool Lane sharing the space with the usual noisy colony of house sparrows, and feeding on weed seeds and dandelion seeds at the edge of pavements in Mead Way and along Jubilee Path.
At South Pond the first brood of mallard ducklings of 2015 were paddling in the new reedbed, nine tiny beaks between them picking insects off the surface of the water.
The restoration work at South Pond is progressing well; this week local school children have been helping with planting native wildflowers and water plants in the new borders at the edges of the pond, into silt pumped from the newly deepened main channel of the pond. As I was watching the ducklings, I sat for a while on a bench and admired the shades of copper in the beech tree. High above, in a gap between passing clouds, a thin dark shape was unmistakable, a swift, my first of the year. It was good to see this one, although I expect it was not one of our local ones but continuing on its journey further north with those that nest in Midhurst's roof-spaces following not far behind.