The long period of bitterly cold weather during the second half of last month is finally over, and it finally feels like spring. There are butterflies about, and flowers are appearing where a week or so ago the ground was cold and bare. The only place I know locally where snakes head fritillaries grow on Gower is inside the Penrice Estate. They’re at their very best now, growing close together in a small patch of grass under the shade of trees. Such an exquisite flower, these may be a remnant of earlier cultivation - they’ve been grown as ornamental flowers for at least five hundred years. This little group has been under these trees for as long as I remember and I prefer to believe they’re real.
It’s been such a long wait, but spring is appearing all around. There’s just a trickle of migrants, a few chiffchaffs and wheatears; the big rush will come at the end of the month, when the temperature rises. Trees are starting to green, hedgerows show patches of hawthorn leaves, and fields are carpeted with daisies. Daffodils are fading fast. and on woodland floors, the first garlic flowers are out. Wood anemones are at their best, and the green shoots of bluebells are appearing. It’s the time of promise and renewal, and the long cold winter will be forgotten in no time at all.
I sit on the cliff hoping to see a swallow come in from the sea. The afternoon sun feels good, and there’s a little warmth in the grass. It’s still too early for rock roses and bird’s foot trefoil, they’ll be here next month, but the tiny dot singing non-stop high in the sky removes any disappointment for a lack of swallows.