Over the past few days, the new moon has been turning from a sliver of pristine fingernail moon into the cheesy grin of a quarter moon. A week from now will see a ful moon that reportedly will be the biggest and closest to Earth for almost two decades. Then it will be the Equinox and Spring will have finally arrived.
There have been assorted hints of the change of season all through February, interspersed by days when Winter's grip was tightened. But the past few days that grip has relented and the first blossoms on the flowering cherries have emerged and the hazel catkins are giving way to the first leaves. Of course, with the events of yesterday, the sight of cherry blossom is even more evocative of Japan than most years, prompting thoughts and wishes for recovery from yet more unimaginable devastation.
The most definite hint that Spring was close came from views out of my back window. There's a Magpie nest in a nearby tree. As with every year, the Winter storms took their toll on the construction, leaving only a few inches at the base of the nest. Bot over the past 10 days or so, the pair of Magpies have been flying to & fro with assorted twigs, until the nest resembled a three foot high approximation of Amy Winehouse's beehive at her most caned.
Never the neatest or prettiest nest, it's clearly secure and desirable to other members of the crow family. The resident pair have been repelling magpies, jays and carrion crows, all intent of squatting. Right now, it looks as if the birds have finished building and have started sitting.
I managed to tick a huge gap in my birdwatching list last Thursday morning, while I was waiting for the bus to the station. I noticed a bird in the tree opposite the bus stop, a slightly deeper shade of pinky brown to a Jay. It turned slightly to reveal a crest, and I realised that at last I was watching a Waxwing. I then realised the tree was full of them - upwards of 20! A car drove past and they took flight, and I was able to catch sight of the flashes of red and yellow on their wings.
All this Winter I've been on the looking for Waxwings with renewed intent, making a point to look out for them in car parks planted with the berry bearing shrubs they feed on. And when I thought the season was over, and I stopped looking, they appeared, almost on my doorstep.