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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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Reimagining Richard Jefferies

Wood on the Downs , 1929 Paul Nash

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’.”

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Charles F. Tunnicliffe, OBE, RA

Magpie by Charles F. Tunnicliffe, OBE, RA (1901-1979)

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.

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A Deceit of Lapwing

Lapwing by R B Talbot Kelly


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 ...

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Songs of Wild Birds

Songs of Wild Birds

Beatific in its own right birdsong often ‘springs the catch of memory’ - like dandelion clocks drifting in the air, catching the sun ... [a] timeless immersion within a ‘spirit of place’ ...

Mistle Thrush from the Churchyard Yew - the piper at the gates of dawn. Black swift screaming jet-like across a cloudless blue sky, the afterburn of their passing an echo in the still air - a fine fresh spring morning. The gentle purr of Turtle Dove from a nearby copse - lazy hazy summer afternoons. Or the ever present song of Yellowhammer, singing when all others have ceased - the hayfield in the early evening.

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Winifred Marie Louise Austen

A Parliament of Rooks by Winifred Marie Louise Austen, 1876 - 1964

Winifred Maria Louise Austen (1876 - 1964) - was an English illustrator, painter, etcher and aquatint engraver. She was widely admired and collected; even the naturalist Sir Peter Scott – himself so able a wildlife artist – said Austen was, ‘certainly the best bird-etcher of this (last) century’.

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Wagtail All

Wagtail by Tracy Hall

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 ...

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A Carousel of Birds

Yellow Wagtail by A W Seaby

A Carousel of Birds ...

My chief delight is in nature, and when I look at a picture it is to find something about nature in it, especially some expression of the feeling produced in us by nature, which is, to me, the most important thing in life ... Adapted from  W H Hudson - 'Afoot in England’ - 1909

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David Morrison Reid-Henry

Teal in Hard Weather

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.

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Murder, Mischief and Murmurations

Raven by A W Seaby

I paused for a moment to look out over the marshy fields - a dull flat grey-green in the late autumn evening; almost night. The sun had set and white trails of mist followed the course of the river. A few Magpie were chakking noisily in some willow scrub. Starkly black and white. I counted - one for sorrow, two for joy, three for a girl, four a boy - a few more flew in - eight for a wish, nine for a kiss ... and then more - twenty, thirty, forty - from all directions. One hundred, two hundred, I lost count; now too dark to see ...

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