A bright windy afternoon after heavy rain, the river is bursting its banks and Teazle, my black Labrador, is strangely reluctant to follow me into the mini torrent that is flowing across the path at the kissing gate. She isn't particularly confident with water considering her breed. She loves to wallow up to her chest, but rarely goes any deeper, and avoids fast flowing rivers and waves.
I notice a kestrel hovering over the field by the river. I watch it for a while with my binoculars, hoping that Teazle doesn't take advantage of my temporary preoccupation to wander off and eat, or roll in, something revolting. It's a rather scruffy looking female, with a couple of tail feathers missing, seeming to have some difficulty holding position in the wind. I'm pleased to see her. Hopefully she's here to stay, the grass is long so the hunting should be good. I love kestrels and she is the first I've seen here since late winter. In previous years they have been a regular sight, and I always keep an eye out for them.
I turn and walk along the rhyne, resisting the temptation to part the bank side vegetation and look for fresh water vole signs. I know they're there, and that's enough for me. I'll leave them in peace for the time being and save myself from the inevitability of being stung by hidden nettles. The meadowsweet is flowering, reminding me that it’s the first day of July, hard to believe in this strange weather.
I walk up the path through the growing maize crop to the bottom of the wood looking for fox and badger footprints as I go. The dog shoots off and I have to call her back and put her on the lead to stop her from trampling over the young plants.
It's surprisingly dark in the woods, the canopy has closed in and the beech leaves have lost the translucence of spring. Shafts of sunlight pierce the gloom. I hear a chiffchaff and realise that up to now the wood has been silent. As I listen I hear a few notes from a distant blackbird, it's a while before the song thrushes will start their evening chorus but, for me, it's time to go home.