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Murder, Mischief and Murmurations – Magpie, Raven and Starling

Raven by A W Seaby

Murder, Mischief and Murmurations

A Murder of Magpie

I am currently reading ‘Magpie Murders’ by Anthony Horowitz and was reminded of the childhood rhyme ….. one for sorrow two for joy …. and so on. I wonder what it would be for 200! For this was the number I counted, before it was too dark to see, coming to roost in willow scrub one winters evening near my home.

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Belonging and Landscape – when I first read Richard Jefferies — Moments of Place

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 […]

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Variations on a Theme – Yellow, Grey, White (Pied) – Wagtail All

Yellow Wagtail

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.

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Our Northern (Winter) Thrushes – Redwing and Fieldfare

Fieldfare

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.

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A Deceit of Lapwing – The Seven Whistlers

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.

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Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There Is a Season) …. Autumn

As Summer Leaves Fall ….

September

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 Mists 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:

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The Dipper or Water Colley – A Study in Black and White

Dipper from the Crossley ID Guide Britain and Ireland

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.

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Musical Interlude – Sounds of Summer

Songs of Wild Birds

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.

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Spring is in the Air

Spring in the Dales

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

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Summer came softly

Summer

Summer for me …

starts with the first of the Spring and Summer migrants – Swallow, Whitethroat and Chiffchaff, although the very early ones of the latter may have overwintered. Soon followed by Swift, which for almost as long as I have been in North Wales – 25 years now – have turned up on May 12th.

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