RICHARD WILLIAMSON Nature Trails...Eggs – the symbol of hope, perfection and promise...

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There could be two hundred million birds’ eggs in Britain at the moment. And probably just as many chocolate ones as well.

I generally eat four Easter eggs every year, and so do most people, if you count the miniatures. They are so satisfying.

The shape fits your palm, your mouth, your whole mind.

The egg came first.

It was genesis, a protoplasmic meeting of ocean chemicals that found their common bond and knew that it was good.

The egg after four billion years found its finest form had been designed by reptiles, and so on to birds.

The streamlined ellipse was enclosed in shell, then decorated.

Can it ever be improved? Hardly.

The egg is a miniature planet, self-contained within its envelope, carrying new life, full of mighty possibility.

No wonder we worship the egg at Easter, the symbol of perfection, hope and promise.

Peeling the silver paper, cracking the shell at breakfast, or peering over the rim of a blackbird’s nest and seeing those fresh green speckled shapes all have us in delight.

We join that secret planet on its journey, we feast our mouths, or we feast our eyes, it is all primeval and makes us happy.

I used to love hunting the hen’s eggs in the hay lofts of the farm when I was six.

They were all free-range and they even made nests in the woods.

I found the huge speckled eggs of turkeys, blown with brown spots as fine as Saharan sand, or the vast white elongated moons of goose eggs among the kingcups.

Then I used to find the damp reed nests of moorhens in the fresh marsh, each holding half a dozen lovely fresh eggs for mother to cook into cakes.

There were the golden green nuggets of the pheasants, nestling like gold from a Saxon horde.

Perhaps the most beautiful were the sky-blue eggs of the song thrush, held tight inside a hard mud cup built like a Roman chalice.

One look at those and you were in summertime and the song of dawn.

So just think of those 200 million wild birds’ eggs at this very moment – and there will be more to come as the season advances, for there is more to Easter than chocolate.

According to the latest BTO Atlas of breeding birds there are ten million pairs of robins in Britain, four-and-a-half million blackbirds, one-and-a-half million great tits and three-and-a-half million pairs of blue tits.

Have you ever seen a jackdaw’s egg? There are a million of them at this moment in turrets and hollow trees, and even Faberge could never have made a lovelier jewel.

If you go to the Booth Museum in Brighton you can see these wonderful things behind their screens, and every child should know they exist as their heritage outside within the wild.

I shall enjoy my Easter eggs this weekend, but my mind will be spreading its wings way beyond my mouth.