There's a tiny hamlet near here. It surrounds a village green and an old pond; it’s a quiet place, just a few cottages, several houses and a very old run down farm. In deep winter there are often Snipe by the pond, but little else; it’s transformed now, buzzing with spring life. I retreat to the comfort of a wooden bench on the high, drier part of the green. Lots of ‘In Loving Memory’ seats have appeared in recent years and they’re often good places to watch wildlife. Only an occasional car passes and there are more Swallows than people. There’s just the sound of spring; Blackcaps, Chaffinches and Goldfinches sing from hidden perches and a Whitethroat song-flights from the top of an emerging oak tree.
The old ramshackle farm buildings govern much of the birdlife visiting the pond. Swallows and House Martins take mud and House Sparrows carry straw into the falling down barns and into the farmhouse, which although occupied, is open to the elements at one end. Pied Wagtails too nest somewhere in the chaos of the farmyard.
The small pond, with its residential feral ducks and geese, is a mixture of seasons; flowering Marsh Marigolds and Ladies’ Smock balance the greens of Yellow Flag and last year’s bent-over Bullrushes provide fluffy nest lining for Great Tits and a pair of Greenfinches. Soon the pond will burst into life, with all the colours of spring arriving in turn.
I wonder what the villagers make of this untidy farm. An eyesore it may be, but do they realize what an important part it plays in the community of wildlife they share? I walk down to the farm gate, purchase my free-range eggs, put my money in the honesty box and return home to enjoy yokes, the colour of which I remember as a child.