humble-bees, grey striped, enter the garden and drone round the banks,
searching everywhere for a fit hole in which to begin the nest.
pleasant to hear them; after the dreary silence the old familiar burr-rr
is very welcome. Spotted orchis leaves are up, and the palm-willow bears
its yellow pollen. Happily, the wild anemones will not bear the journey
to London, they wither too soon; else they would probably be torn up like
the violets. Neither is there any demand for the white barren strawberry
blossom, or the purplish ground-ivy among the finely marked fern moss.
The rain falls; and in the copses of the valley, deep and moist, where
grey lichen droops from the boughs, the thrushes sing all day - so
delighted are they to have the earth soft again, and so busy with the
nesting. At four o'clock in the morning the larks begin to sing: they
will be half an hour earlier next month, adjusting their time nicely by
the rising of the sun. They sing on till after the lamps are lit in the
evening. Far back in the snow-time a pair of wagtails used to come
several times a day close to the windows, their black markings showing up
singularly well against the snow on the ground. They seemed to have just
arrived. But now the weather is open and food plentiful they have left
us. The wagtails appear to be the first of the migrant birds to return,
long before the hail of April rattles against the windows and leaps up in
the short grass.
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