Not wishing to stray too far away from home at the weekend Mrs Gray and I set off across Riverside Park to seek out the orhard that had been planted out by Fife Ranger Service.
The countryside was quiet birdwise, with only the trill of an occasional Robin until it was joined by the “pink, pink” alarm call of a cock Chaffinch disturbed by our presence as we reached the top of the brae on the track under some fine Douglas firs where it leads up from Lady Bridge to the old gate to Leslie House lawns. We enjoyed the sight of the floods of Snowdrops blooming in profusion by the roadside on our way uphill, where a beam of wintry sunshine caught the plumage of a pair of black Carrion Crows, disporting themselves in the shrubbery converting them to an iridescent purple.
Crossing the busy road across the bridge above the Leven we found a gap in the vegetation and splashed our way though to a meadow, sited roughly where the old Leslie House tennis courts had een laid out, and now some 200 or so fruit trees, like ourselves, stood up to their ankles in puddles on the poorly drained soil.
There was no sign of the hoped for apple blossom which is yet to appear as the days lengthen. Can we expect a few bee skeps to be transported into he area to ensure pollination and a resuling heavy crop of fruit?
Meanwhile back at home my copy of Butterfly Conservation magazine had fluttered through the letterbox to alert me to the BIG BUTTERFLY COUNT to be carried out nationally in gardens on warmer days between 14th July and 5th August, and with news of an appeal for funds to help the continued survival of the rare Chequered Skipper butterfly hose anomalous survival continues in an isolated pocket around Fort William. I feel I can support that, and I now have an excuse to purposefully visit the area in the appropriate season.
*Tom Gray writes for the Glenrothes Gazette