Lying lazy in a meadow by a stream home to sheep ‘n’ cows and wagtail yellow buttercups dance in the meadow grass so high above kestrel hover a flit of swallow ... wild rainbow cast the summer breeze ‘cross grasses mix’d an artists palette red gold ‘n’ green finches twitter ‘n’ tweeze ...
Here, for all who know the Downs – their wandering pathways through fields of yellow and green, blue yet often lowering skies, are the Downs on an English summer’s afternoon. Rowland Hilder - The Downs.
One early autumn evening, I was standing out of doors when the sun came out beneath a bank of dark cloud and lit up the weathered, soft blue-grey slate roof of our old barn. No sooner had the light fallen on it than a few Yellowhammer dropped down out of nowhere and sat motionless on the sun-warmed slates, with heads drawn in and plumage bunched out. It was as if the sun had poured a golden-coloured light into their loose feathers making them shine a bright canary yellow ...
Continue reading In Search of Yellowhammer, Corn and Cirl Bunting
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.
Walking in the footsteps of Richard Jefferies ... “I was not more than eighteen when an inner and esoteric meaning began to come to me from all the visible universe, and indefinable aspirations filled me. I found them in the grass fields, under the trees, on the hill-tops, at sunrise, and in the night. There was a deeper meaning everywhere. The sun burned with it, the broad front of morning beamed with it; a deep feeling entered me while gazing at the sky in the azure noon, and in the star-lit evening —' The Story of my Heart’.”
Charles F. Tunnicliffe, OBE, RA (1901-1979) was probably the best illustrator and bird portraitist of the last century. His work across a breadth of media – watercolour, pen and ink, woodblock engraving, etching and scraperboard – and across a variety of subject matter, has stood the test of time and is widely collected.
If you grew up in the fifties like me you probably read Ladybird nature books and collected Brooke Bond tea cards – all illustrated by Tunnicliffe. You might even have read the Puffin edition of Henry Williamson’s Tarka the Otter, with its cover and beautiful illustrations also by Tunnicliffe.
Suddenly! Some chance movement has been noticed by the nearest Lapwing, and away they go at once as if with the same wings, sweeping overhead, then to the right, then to the left, and then back again, a ‘flickering chequerboard’. Wee-ah-wee! The notes immediately repeated by another - Wee-ah-wee! Finally they settle again ...
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.
Walking upstream from the bridge the stream ceases to be tidal, and turns into a lovely clear running stream with a gravel bed. A flash of yellow; a beautiful male Grey Wagtail bounds away to alight on a boulder under the bank, the reflection of its brilliant yellow plumage in the pool beneath more evident than the bird itself. Another flies to join it at the waters edge - a female - less yellow and without the black bib - their pendulum swings of the tail in ceaseless unison ...
Continue reading Wagtail All
David Morrison Reid-Henry (1919 – 1977) - This post is one of a series of short biographies about artists and writers inspired by Nature and the Countryside and whose works have fostered my own love of the Countryside - especially Birds.