Spring makes me think of my Gran who always loved to take my sisters and i for walks to gather catkins and to look out for birds and listen to birdsong.
When we were little we used to pretend the furry grey pussy willow catkins were pet mice or rub them on our faces like miniature powder puffs. They were so soft and fluffy and my gan would let us pretend to do her make up with them- she was a good sport.
I've quickly painted a few pussy willow catkins from memory, it gives the idea of what they look like anyway.
There aren't any pussy willows near here as far as i know. Spring comes much earlier in the year here than in Scotland.
I remember seeing the first blossom on the trees here at the beginning of February but here is some i photographed the other day. I'm not sure what kind of tree it was but it was very pretty.
My gran was very fond of blackbirds Turdus merula and she could imitate them [and other birds] quite well. I never managed to learn to whistle properly despite years of practising
I've seen lots and lots of blackbirds recently - they are madly courting and finding nest sites. They hop around pretty quickly so i've not managed to take decent photos of them.
Instead i've painted so stylised blackbirds sharing a few worms. They are omnivorous and eat fruits and berries as well as worms and beetles.
The male is glossy black but the female is a dark brown colour. The blackbirds are quite tuneful singers.
The males tend to survey their territory from a high place and sing - a recording of their song is here though its not the best example of blackbird song i've ever heard.
European blackbirds aren't related to the blackbirds of North America though they are related to the American robin Turdus migratorius.