Our Footpaths Officer, David Blackburn, reports.
After the coldest Easter on record, heavy snow less than a couple of weeks ago and a prolonged period of bitterly cold weather, I was not expecting to see much along the towpath in early April. My stroll, from Kiveton Waters, over the tunnel top and along the towpath past Kiveton Park Station towards Thorpe Locks, was on a rare warm and sunny afternoon. Not only did I enjoy it, but so did the wildlife too.
Birds of all sorts were singing and though regrettably I cannot identify most, a Woodpecker tapping away was loud and clear. There were a few Mallards busy on the canal – surprising to see them, given the way the water was churned up into a black muddy soup by the dredgers working nearby.
It was the flowers that really caught my eye- first clusters of Snowdrops, still showy despite it being past the usual flowering time, then a bank of Daffodils right beside the towpath – standing erect despite recent batterings by wind and snow. In short succession there were tiny yellow Lesser Celandine, just millimetres above the ground, Coltsfoot, keen to bloom before any leaves appear. There was also a mass of tiny blue purple flowers which I think is Ground Ivy – though it was really hugging the ground and much lower than the reference books suggest; like most of us recently probably trying to keep out of the wind. And finally, carpets of dedicate white Wood Anemone, or Windflower starting to appear – a real sign that Spring has arrived on this part of the towpath.