The Dipper is a bird of fast tumbling mountain and moorland streams - I’ve seen them on the rushing waters of Devon and Cornwall moors, the Staffordshire moors and Derbyshire Dales; the mountain streams and lakes of Snowdonia, and on tidal stretches of Welsh and Cornish rivers - the Ogwen and Fowey. But I knew it best on a little lowland brook - the Cam - meandering through a pastoral landscape near Bath.
SIGNS OF SPRING
Jefferies’ field notebooks are full of references to the passing seasons. Each year he carefully noted the first signs of spring and summer and found happiness in the visible tokens of the seasons as they returned. As he wrote in The Open Air “I knew the very dates of them all—the reddening elm, the arum, the hawthorn leaf, the celandine, the may; the yellow iris of the waters, the heath of the hillside. The time of the nightingale—the place to hear the first note.”
via Signs of Spring
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
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.
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 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.
Continue reading Variations on a Theme – Yellow, Grey, White (Pied) – Wagtail All
Gordon Beningfield (1936-98) - Another post in the 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.
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’.
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 of Magpie I counted, before it was too dark to see, coming to roost in willow scrub one winters evening near my home.
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.