Lesser celandines are in flower in the hedges, hazels are festooned with catkins. We see greenfinch, bullfinch and chaffinch on our walk along country lanes and through Thornhill Park, but the real highlights of the afternoon come when we reach the canal towpath.
In the corner of a field between the canal and the river on a pool that seems to have become semi-permanent thanks to the wet seasons we've had, we see at least 13 teal along with half a dozen mallards. Using binoculars in a favourable light it's easy to see the neat red and dark green markings on the heads of the drake teals.
There's a rumbling as a train approaches. Three birds fly one after another, with undulating flight, from the embankment and cross the canal. At first I identify them as jays but we don't hear their screeching call.
A high-pitched laughing call soon makes us realise that they're green woodpeckers. One of them t is calling from near the top of a power-line post.
The Wagtail and the Wing MirrorNot far from the canal, in the car park of an Italian restaurant alongside a stream there's a grey wagtail that seems more than usually agitated. It flits from one car to another, flicking its tail and pirouetting about. It perches on the driver's door of a white car then repeatedly flies at the mirror, apparently taking its reflection for a rival male. I read about this behaviour years ago but this is the first time that I've seen it.