As an only child who grew up in the countryside I am used to open spaces and feel at home in the company and beauty of natural things. My favourite books as a child were those which engaged with the outdoors, and which seemed to hint towards an equally rich inner life or territory. As […]
From winter beaches to summer moorland and woodland, Wales provides essential habitats for waders. There are over forty WaderTales blogs so far. Here’s a selection of ten that may well appeal to birdwatchers in Wales. Winter beaches & estuaries Wales holds important populations of waders in the wintertime – everything from Bar-tailed Godwits from Siberia to […]
(Composed during the snow-thaw of last month…) As I sit here, goldfinches glance across the skies outside the window, their ‘charms’ like the bounce of iambic pentameter written with wings. They turn towards our garden, and immediately, their syntax becomes jumbled by a shift and gather of chaffinches – with an adjunct of sparrows tumbling in like a hurried conclusion. […] See Also: Our Northen (Winter) Thrushes
Wagtail All …
I have spent countless hours watching wagtails: Pied Wagtail coming to roost in Cherry Trees in my local supermarkets car park, Yellows’ around cows in Somerset pastures; and my only ever Blue Headed on the concrete perimeter of Chew Valley Lake back in the mid ’60s.
Our Northern (Winter) Thrushes – Redwing and Fieldfare
It’s Autumn: the time of year when the ‘chakking’ calls of Fieldfare in the hedgerows in the frosty early morning, preceded by the ‘seep seep’ night-time calls of migrating Redwing announce the arrival of our Winter Thrushes. They arrive anytime from late September but it’s not until the frosts of October and November that we begin to see them en-mass in the fields and hedgerows.
A Deceit of Lapwing – The Seven Whistlers
Forty or fifty years ago the Lapwing, Peewit, or Green Plover, was a regular nesting bird in Britain but ‘advances’ in agricultural practices – land drainage and general intensification – have, lamentably, driven it from traditional breeding grounds.
As Summer Leaves Fall ….
The thing I notice most at the beginning of Autumn is that it is still dark when I get up in the mornings to let the dogs out. With mist over the meadows and dewy morns. Rowan berries aplenty; Blackberry too. Red hips and haws colour the hedges a rusty red. And Rosebay Willowherb their tall spikes lit by the evening sunshine, followed soon by clouds of gossamer-soft seeds, floating like fairies on the balmy wind: The end of summer.
The Art of the Postcard …..
The art card is probably the most important category in antique postcards. Think of these cards as 3 1/2″ x 5 1/2″ original high quality prints, which they are, instead of as postcards. Artists could make extra income by selling postcard prints of their work. This booming market drew the very best artists, creating a wealth of quality material unmatched in the art world.
There is no better study of Dipper than that of Richard Jefferies.
When he visited Exmoor in the summer of 1882, Jefferies soon fell in love with the sweeping expanses of heather moors and the rocky, bubbling streams which supported a variety of wildlife. This short piece is a close-up study of the water-colley, more commonly known as the dipper.
How better to start this post than with a quote from the writings of Richard Jefferies:
The fervour of the sunbeams descending in a tidal flood rings on the strung harp of earth. It is this exquisite undertone, heard and yet unheard, which brings the mind into sweet accordance with the wonderful instrument of nature.—’ The Life of the Fields’: The Pageant of Summer.
I have never seen a Bee-eater ….
but it was this bird or at least a story about it that inspired me, enthused me, and changed my life. Prompted also by moving from country village to town, from being a country lad to city dweller. The year was 1957. From then on I became a watcher of the countryside – its people, birds, and animals.
I don’t remember the title or the author of the book and have been unable to find it again but I think it must have been based on the discovery of Bee-eater nesting in Streat Sand Quarry, in 1955, and the RSPBs efforts to protect them – the first time I believe a nest protection scheme had been attempted.
What better introduction to Spring than this quotation from the writings of Richard Jefferies.
“The bird upon the tree utters the meaning of the wind—a voice of the grass and wild-flower, words of the green leaf; they speak through that slender tone. Sweetness of dew and rifts of sunshine, the dark hawthorn touched with breadths of open bud, the odour of the air, the colour of the daffodil—all that is delicious and beloved of springtime are expressed in his song. Genius is nature and his lay, like the sap in the bough from which he sings, rises without thought”. —’ Field and Hedgerow’: Hours of Spring. Richard Jefferies