A mallard dozes in the February sunshine.
The Hemel Hempstead Jellicoe water gardens are coming to life after a wet and windy week. Walking along the serpentine path by the River Gade , we pass drifts of shimmering snowdrops nodding in the leaf litter under the trees.
In the culvert by Bridge Street, a male mallard dozes in the February sunshine, resplendent in his mating colours. He is conserving his energy after the chaotic weather throughout the month
Black headed gulls squabble with the canada geese over bread that children throw. Neither the birds nor the children have noticed the signs forbidding them to feed the wildlife. It is an age-old pastime.
Crocus flowers reflect the bright sunshine below the arches of the formal garden.
Robins fiercely contest their territories all around in the bushes and trees, with cadenzas and trills that soar and swoop. Each bird copies his rivals with his own amazing enhancements. Other birds dart about in the tall cypress trees, but they are too elusive to photograph. The moorhen rests by the silent fountain.
We cross over the new bridge: the underpass is flooded after the heavy rains.
A tree has snapped in half and taken the fence with it.
On the water meadows more snowdrops grow in clumps and the fast flowing river Bulbourne sparkles in the sun, joining the Gade at Two Waters.
We cross the meadows and climb up the hidden path between the gasometers into Roughdown Common. A red kite soars overhead calling to its mate.
A rabbit scuttles into the bushes.
Up on the hillside, a tree makes a lovely silhouette against the blue sky and the catkins waft in the breeze.
Crossing through the glade, we walk down to the moor, where sheep graze and seagulls paddle in the flooded fields.
In the paddock near the Boxmoor Trust HQ, tiny lambs are finding their feet.
We walk up the path to the old barn, noticing pussy willow and more sheep on the way.
The view at the top is breathtaking; we pause to admire the hedges we helped to trim a few weeks ago.
Birds sing all around in the woodland.
We make our way down and stroll back along the canal arriving home for a lovely late lunch.