Last weekend I made a trip out with friends from The Wildlife Art Society, to gather reference for our artwork.
We travelled to Middleton Hall near Tamworth, an RSPB reserve with a good mix of lakes, reed-beds and woodland.
Some of us sketched, others used binoculars, spotting scopes or cameras to get a good view.
It was certainly a pleasure to be out in the sunshine and finding signs of spring at last, and I heard my first Chiffchaff of the season.
The weather was at last much warmer, and we hoped to see signs of birds nesting, if not young birds.
There's a reasonably-sized heronry in some huge old oak trees, and we got good views of the parent birds going from their nests to nearby pools and woodland, returning with large twigs, and presumably crops full of food for the young birds.
Some of the "twigs" looked more like branches, brought to add to the huge sprawling nests.
I was pleased to find that there was plenty of material there to inspire some of my future paintings.
I watched a parent bird returning and being mobbed for regurgitated food by two quite well-grown young birds, though the branches on the heronry made seeing details difficult.
It looks as though it will be several more weeks before most of the tree buds are bursting, so we should have plenty of time to watch the birds, unless this strange late spring all comes together very quickly.