Spring's awakening is for me the most magical time of the year.

Ablaze now are delicate shades of white and pink albeit fleeting winter cherry blossom and white cherry plum, while goat (pussy) willow, alder catkins looking like spring lamb's tails twitching in the breeze and the greening of weeping willows are all delightful to behold.

Dandelions, coltsfoot, lesser celandine, daffodils, primroses, crocus and dog violets flowering in shady places all lend vibrant colour to the scene and act as magnets for bees, while garden centres too with their myriad variety of flowers tempt bees seeking vital early nectar.

Birdsong gains in strength although in my area it is a mere whisper compared with thirty years ago and that applies especially to the dawn chorus.

Opening soon will be massed blossom of blackthorn (sloe), and if it appears in March during a spell of cold easterly winds then that period is traditionally known as a 'blackthorn winter'. Some birds nest in blackthorn where they find protection among the thorny branches.

In favourable weather we should see brimstone, small tortoiseshell, peacock, comma and red admiral butterflies.

Brimstones lay eggs on buckthorn while the other species mainly choose stinging nettles.

Spawning from now until July are coarse fish and in some lakes and ponds large female pike, shadowed by smaller males, (jacks), can be watched patrolling around the shallow margins as they lay eggs among water plants.

Spring is certainly packed full of great natural sights and sounds.