Jane and I made our annual visit to the Otterburn Ranges today while they are open for the lambing month. For once it wasn't a howling gale or sleet and 6C was an acceptable temperature.
Driving along Coquetdale there were Skylarks and Meadow Pipits and the first couple of Wheatear for us this year.
Then up by Ridlees Cairn there were the first signs of spring. Common Whitlow Grass (Erophila verna) was flowering well by the roadsides.
Both Cotton Grasses were showing their early flower buds, with the single heads of Hare's-tail Cotton Grass (Eriophorum vaginatum) and the developing multiple heads of Common Cotton Grass (E. angustifolium)
On the bog pools there were plenty of Common Pondskaters and a few Whirligig Beetles on the surface. One pool had a writhing mass of hatched Frog tadpoles.
The birdlife included a male Reed Bunting and a passing Raven.
One rock had a minute but attractive stalk of one of the common Cladonia lichens - probably C. diversa but I wouldn't be certain about that.