IT'S the light. Yes, it's most definitely the light that helps make spring so special – and I don't mean the longer hours of daylight, but rather the shimmering quality of the lustre in the air.

By the River Devon, the sun's rays filter with ease through the branches of the alders and other trees along the riverbank.

There is a real warmth to the atmosphere, making this such a magical time of year.

Along nearby farm tracks and woodland margins, blackthorn bushes are also about to bloom into their full white-frosted glory.

The blackthorn flowers first, with the leaves following later. Even when the weather turns freezing the flowers will blossom, with a cold spring traditionally being termed a 'blackthorn winter'.

The 19th century poet Christina Rossetti brought into sharp focus the striking beauty of the blackthorn as it is about to bloom, or 'blow', with the lines: A cold wind stirs the blackthorn/ To burgeon and to blow/ Besprinkling half-green hedges/ With flakes and sprays of snow.

Other flower blooms are also now catching the eye. After more than 50 springs, my thrill in finding the first gold-spangled flowers of lesser celandines never diminishes – indeed, the exact opposite is the case, and I still recall vividly the whoop of joy from last spring on my first glimpse of these wonderful flowers.

These early spring flowers are processional in their emergence – lesser celandines are generally first in bloom, followed by the creamy flowers of wood anemones, and then a burst of colour-fantastic as the dog violets, primroses and ramsons (wild garlic) all hasten their magical brilliance.

And, of course, these flowers stir insects into action such as queen buff-tailed bumblebees, which after a long winter of hibernation, will eagerly feast upon early nectar and pollen before seeking out an abandoned mouse hole as a nest site to raise the next generation.