and the bumblebees are everywhere on the wing. Yellowhammers, and corn buntings are singing from field margins and lapwings are pairing up on the cultivated plots. Some plots even have the first of this year's stone-curlews back marking out their homes for the summer. A quick dash out at lunch time on 21st March confirmed that the warm butterfly banks are a great spot to look for early wild flowers, with cowslips, hairy violet, germander speedwell and coltsfoot all putting out their first blooms. A looming hail shower drove me back in the office, but with the satisfaction that nature is gearing up for spring and soon the countryside will be full of bird song and bursting with wildflowers. Winterbourne Downs is a glorious landscape festooned in cowslips in late April, best witnessed before the dandelions compete for yellow supremacy in May.