Lockdown continues to ease, with optimistic but 'alert' steps back towards engagement with a broader sweep of the natural world.
Fortunately, unaware of the trauma facing their human cousins, wildlife both fauna and flora continue to turn up here at Harris Acres, getting on with their lives and offering us the quiet joy of observing their world.
Regular readers of my Blog pages will know that my 'Project Fox' has up to this point, been a comprehensive 'fail' ... such is wildlife photography.
I can however report a modest success in more recent times!
Equipped with no more than a couple of portable LED 'builders' lights (c £20 from Amazon), a handful of peanuts, lactose intolerant cheese (gotta watch out for the hedgehogs welfare), some dog biscuits and a wing and a prayer, I finally have tempted our incredibly nervous rural foxes to come close enough to the house so that I can take pictures from a downstairs window.
Unlike urban foxes who provide amazing views for grateful city and town wildlife observers sitting comfortably behind their garden patio doors, my brave but fruitless attempts to go to the wildlife camouflaged by a hide tent has been replaced by encouraging them to come to me.
Finally, the beautiful Fox I'd captured on the trail cam, has started to appear just 20m from the house, allowing me some shots as I peer through the darkness to watch.
I am friends with, follow admiringly and generally respect a number of incredible wildlife photographers who produce stunning pictures of gambolling cubs, dramatically lit Vixens and basically, work to which I aspire.
Photography in the dark is another chance to learn ... its one thing paying to use the professional set ups at hides, quite another to learn how to put it together yourself. The web flash and lighting pages of some photography suppliers are now under close scrutiny!!
Right ... what next?
How about a quick shot of 'my' Hedgehog patrolling the garden wall watched carefully by the local Muntjac?
... and now to unexpected Flora ...
How about Orchids in our wildflower meadow for a lovely surprise??
I'm particularly delighted to find that last years small group of Bee-orchids have reappeared as a large cluster - amounting to c 30 individual plants!
The Common Orchids seem late this year and struggling a little in the vigorous grasses growth, prompted I assume, by the wet late winter rains.
So much for looking down at the flora for a moment; a flash of movement in the sky above caught in my peripheral vision as the bedroom curtains were pulled back early one morning.
Grabbing the nearest camera, sadly with the 'wrong' lens attached but no time to make a change, I managed to capture a few distant shots of the Hobby, hawking high above the house.
I seem to get a small handful of views from home of this dashingly handsome bird each year, each chance hungrily consumed and savoured, especially their bright red-trousered leg feathers.
Wildlife comes in all shapes and sizes, even at home.
My new 'macro' lens, enables super close up views of the wildlife world, too easily missed in our casual observations.
Bug eyed Damselflys and Ladybugs ...
Colourful Caterpillars and Spiders ....
Beautiful Blue Butterflies ....
... and a special treat ... close up views of a recently emerged female Broad-bodied Chaser Dragonfly, drying its wings on grasses surrounding our top pond.
That very top pond (a downhill stream connects this with the bottom pond), produced a splendid amount of frog activity in the early spring.
I was delighted to see that BBCSpringwatch used one of my pictures on its Social Media streams to act as the cover picture for its feature on creating a garden pond. An earlier blog covered those froggy days in February, but here's the star of the show (with over 30k clicks to date), for a brief reprise.
So to close, how about the appearance of recently fledged Greater-spotted Woodpecker in our fruit trees?
Previous blogs documented my attempts to capture some shots of the parents landing in an old branch, erected for that purpose. The fat ball, supplementary feeding pressed into the branch crevices, hopefully helped keep those parents strong and healthy and now I can watch the male GSW introducing this fluffy youngster to one of its favourite places to feed.
I wonder what mid Summer will bring?
I for one will be watching ever more closely and staying connected with the wild world that has helped us all to keep some balance in this unusual locked down reality.