Canada goose

Shepherd's Warning

New Year's Eve, 31st December 2000, West Yorkshire
Canada geese
HOAR FROST has dusted the hedge and wall overnight. Its white, raggedly pointed crystals are some 2 or 3 millimetres long.

This morning's red sky in the east is proverbially taken as 'a shepherd's warning' and sure enough, the forecast is that snow is on its way.

A skein of about 50 Canada Geese flies low over the wood, heading towards the Calder valley. In their native North America they're a migratory species but here, where they've become naturalised, we see them throughout the year. But they have developed a limited form of migration; I've heard that most of the British population head for the one of the Scottish Firths (the Moray?) to moult at the endCanada goose of the summer.

Since they feed mainly by grazing on fields and in parkland, the snow cover, which has lasted a few days now, must be causing them problems.

Palm Flowers

spike of palm flowers (or fruits?)palm frond This house plant, which resembles a palm, has sprouted spikes of orange flowers (or fruits). I'm unable to track down its name in any of my books. Perhaps it is the 'Yellow Palm', Areca lutescens?

A Space Odyssey

snow shower The snow comes as promised in the mid-afternoon. I'm glad now that in Britain we celebrated the new millennium a year early (by most reckonings) and that we're not trekking out to a party tonight.

I wish all my readers, in the wilder parts of West Yorkshire and beyond, best wishes for a happy and healthy 2001. Do you think this will be the year when humans stop their petty bickering and realise that the environment that supports them needs their protection? Mmm . . . perhaps not!

The closing image of 2001; A Space Odyssey comes to mind; the space child eyeing the Earth as if he has been offered a shiny new toy; our wonderful but fragile planet.

But if even the combined talents of Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke, along with the music of a couple of Strausses, a generous budget and a barrowload of special effects couldn't get that simple message across, what hope it there for me, working with a sketchbook and a little box of watercolours?

Still, it's fun trying.

Happy new page

Richard Bell
Richard Bell,
wildlife illustrator

E-mail; ''