At this time of year Gower commons can seem lifeless, even desolate, but there’s a feeling of expectation. It’s been very dry of late, giving time for the boggy ground to dry out a little. Although the sun is finally out, there’s a keen wind from the north, ensuring that it will be some time before any spring migrants arrive. Deep footprints of cattle and ponies hardened by recent frosts make walking difficult, as I head off the path looking for signs of spring. On leggy gorse, clumps of yellow flowers promise spring, but there’s always some out in every month. I flush a snipe; there are lots here in winter, but they’ll be gone from Gower shortly; sadly none breed here anymore.
The lane behind the Gower Wildflower Centre on the edge of Fairwood Common is protected from the worst of the weather, and there are more signs of life. The hedgerow is bare, but moss and lichen forming perfect carpets of green, coat limestone boulders left over from an ancient stonewall. Contorted horizontal hawthorns, remnants of a hedge laid years ago are also covered, some with tiny shoots of ferns, which have survived winter in this sheltered spot. Here and there small clumps of snowdrops peep out, and I wonder how long ago this land was woodland. A chaffinch and a robin sing, I disturb a buzzard by the hedge, and a wren gives out a loud blast a few yards away. There are blackbirds and a song thrush in the fields, but it seems that the recent relatively mild weather has cleared out the redwings and fieldfares. Spring is not too far away, but as ever, it’s a waiting game.