The first of the flowers on the Gorse I planted in the front garden to fill a gap in the hedge opened on the 27th. If you haven't got up close and personal with Gorse before, do have a sniff - the bright yellow blooms smell just like coconut. Gorse is one of those shrubs that will shoot from old wood, a characteristic that makes it good for hedging (Yew will do the same), and is used as such, especially in Ireland. Being prickly it's stock proof and, in a more domestic environment yob-proof, apart from the fact it burns quite easily. It's also good for early bees.
I checked my black-plastic-bags-over-a-mound-of-dry-vegetation habitat features today for the first time in a while and, despite the weather being cool and changeable, with only a little sun, the first Slow Worm of the year, a modestly-sized adult, had its back pressed up against the underside of the plastic on the pile that was most favoured during 2009. It looked to be a different individual from at least three of the four seen in the garden last year.
I have continued to build piles of branches, dryish prunings of herbaceous plants and 'weeds' under shrubs in places too dry and dark for anything else to grow, so as to increase suitable sites for Slow Worms to take shelter in, and to provide food and cover for various invertebrates. In sunnier spots of a similar kind I have been making additional hiding places using 'neat' looking chunks of stone-studded concrete 'rubble'.
It's a fortunate accident that the black plastic Slow Worm residences of choice happen to be in a section of the garden that contains plants molluscs don't make a mess of. They're out in force again all of a sudden after mild weather and several rainy days, so as part of my torch-lit 'biological control' ops, the slugs and smaller snails are being translocated to to Slow Worm central ........