It’s been a while, and I seem to have been caught in some kind of late-winter lassitude as regards to writing. I’ve been very busy, but that’s par for the course. I’m still processing my results, got the song thrushes finished before Easter, began work on a thesis chapter/paper about them; abandoned it in favour of more analysis as my 3rd year talk looms (7th May – help!). I’m getting there. My proficiency at stats has improved enormously. I have the bulk of the work completed on six of my nine species. I still have to physically measure chiffchaffs and robins, but I have completed all the measurements on all the others, and have only the blackbirds to process fully. I would like to get them done for my third year talk but it’ll be tight. For all of its exhaustion, I miss fieldwork. I miss being outdoors. It’s been such a long, long winter. The land is so tired looking. You couldn’t call this an emerald isle at the minute. The fields are yellowed, brown, weary.
However, there has been a change in the weather in the last few days, and lo, on my journey home past Toome on Friday last, even from the car I could clearly see the fields empty of whoopers. They’ve left. Then on Saturday, I was out for a walk and I heard my first chiffchaff, at least a fortnight later than last year, but never mind. Another week or so and the willow warblers will be back too. It was my return journey to Belfast yesterday that confirmed the change absolutely. The hedgerows. The haw. They’re beginning to green! Just a faint blur for the moment. I remember my mother’s saying, from her own father: ‘when summer comes, welcome haw’. Sorely welcome today.