A spring in my step and in the air

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I begin with an apology.

If you’ve read my column before (bless you!), you will know that I’ve been bitten by the Zumba bug. So I hope you will understand why when I hear the Pussycat Dolls’ song ‘Jai Ho’ I can’t help myself. I have to release my inner dancing diva.

Unfortunately, when it came on the radio at breakfast time recently I was in the kitchen, which faces out on to the road. So my apology goes to the poor folk walking past who were treated to the undignified sight of a woman old enough to know better strutting her stuff.

As if that wasn’t bad enough the window was open and, notwithstanding my role in the massed alto ranks of Kettering Camerata, my early morning singing is not really fit for an audience. Again: sorry, folks.

But I’m feeling energetic at the moment. Now we’ve seen the back of February, it really feels as though we are moving into spring proper. My home office window looks out over my garden, and I can see my hazel tree weighed down with catkins and spring flowers tentatively poking up their heads. I’ve seen love-struck frogs in my pond and a few sleepy toads have begun to emerge from the log pile.

But it’s the birds that are really keeping me entertained. Several prospective couples have been to view my nesting box and it looks as though a pair of blue tits will be taking up residence. Lumbering pigeons have begun to chase each other about, surely the dumbest of birds. In true pigeon fashion, they look as though they don’t really understand what’s going on.

There’s also been some hugely engaging fighting. I put out all sorts of food to attract the birds and it’s hilarious to watch a robin and a blackbird bickering over mealworms. The robin favours a stealthy approach. He (or she, they look the same) hovers around the edge of the lawn, watching as the blackbird becomes absorbed in the task of stuffing as much food into his beak as possible. Then robin hops closer and closer, until blackie sees him out of the corner of his eye and gives chase. Meanwhile another robin swoops in from the other side and snaffles the lot! But I’ve also seen these two adversaries gang up against a magpie in true David and Goliath style.

I’m regularly visited by goldfinches, sparrows, starlings and – a new one this spring – pied ‘trotty’ wagtails, plus, of course, fabulous red kites passing overhead. So while it might be a bit premature to pack away my woolly jumpers, there are certainly plenty of reasons to be cheerful.