Spent the morning out in the garden, enjoying the late winter (early spring?) sunshine and having a burn up. Yesterday I heard the first skylark of the year and today brought another first, the first emergent bumblebee queen. Although unlike previous years she wasn't basking and letting me get a good look to ID her, but just buzzing past, intent on replenishing her energy levels in order to start the cycle of nest and colony building. I saw a distinct white tail so probably a white-tailed bumblebee but couldn't be certain. A little later than some years (2014 - 22nd February, 2012 - 28th February) but not as late as 2013 (7th April!) which may be just that I've not been outside as much, although I have been looking in the likely places. Anyway, always a good sign for me that spring is underway.
I also cleared out the nest box by the kitchen door (is one supposed to clear them out? Is this good housekeeping or does it just mean more work for the birds??!) As you can probably see from this photo, there was a single unhatched egg in there; great tit I think as that's what nested in there last year. The nest itself was mostly moss and grass, but at the bottom there was a lot of what I think was horse hair (there are horses in the field opposite) which seemed to act as the base layer around which other material was weaved. The spider was a bit miffed to be disturbed but I'm sure he'll get over it. So now that's ready for the next occupant.
I'll be looking and listening out for some of the other familiar signs of the seasonal shift; daffodils, frog spawn (always later here than Somerset), chiff-chaff song and then the returning swallows. But not to get ahead of myself, I shall try to enjoy the transition, the gradual gear-shift before the acceleration in a few weeks. Each year I wonder whether I shall feel that moment of fierce joy at simply being alive to experience spring, and each year it comes again...why would I ever doubt it?