Nature doesn’t get better than this

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Thank goodness the clocks have changed and the days are longer as there’s just so much going on in the countryside at the moment that it’s difficult to keep up.

It is such a privilege to be able to experience the joys of nature at first hand, especially when the weather was like it was at the weekend.

On Saturday I went for a morning stroll up my favourite glen in Yarrow and it was nothing short of magical.

With not a cloud in the sky and the air clear with a touch of sharpness, it was perfect to just walk slowly and absorb everything around me.

The gorse was coming into full bloom and the season’s first willow warblers were singing their little heads off.

I also picked out the rattling call of a newly-arrived redstart in amongst the burnside alders.

Looking over a moss-covered drystane wall at the sparkling stream weaving amongst the sun dappled banks, dotted with lemon yellow primroses, it made me think that it just doesn’t get any better than that.

Leaving the wooded section for a more open section of the valley, I was just thinking that all that was missing was the plaintive call of a curlew, to remind what it used to be like there when I was a boy, when right on cue, one started calling.

So they hadn’t all gone after all!

I could go on and on about the sights and sounds experienced on that glorious outing – the wheeling buzzards, mating toads, peacock butterflies etc, but that was only the first half of the weekend!

Sunday morning saw me up my local stretch of the Ettrick Water and things here, too, were happening apace.

Since my last visit, the spring flowers had really got going with wood anemone, stitchwort, sweet cicely, dog violet etc all in full bloom.

One unusual flower, if you could call it that, which caught my eye, was toothwort.

There was quite a large colony of this odd parasitic plant growing under an elm near the river.

It has no green leaves whatsoever, but derives all its nutrients from the roots of the host tree.

The only portions that appear above ground in April to May are the short flower-bearing shoots, which bear a spike of two-lipped dull purple flowers.

The scales which represent the leaves also secrete water, which escapes and softens the ground around the plant.

It is by no means common and is well worth looking out for before the ground vegetation gets too dense.