long-tailed tit

No laughing matter

next day nature diary previous day back Wild West Yorkshire Nature Diary,
Thursday 24th February 2000

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stream dammed with sticksa four-tyre dam HALF-TERM HOLIDAY; children, one or two parents and a few dogs are roaming in the wood, which we're usually privileged to have to ourselves.

So, why do children build dams across streams? Are they;-

the stream

  • intent on vandalism
  • learning to improvise using available materials while taking in the sensual experience of flowing water, its feel, smell and fluid dynamics
  • just having fun

The latter, I reckon.

From The Sheffield Star to The Natal Mercury

blue titI'm amazed that my Wild West Yorkshire nature diary has received worldwide publicity. It was all due to a light-hearted final paragraph I added to my serious-minded press release. It explained how my innocent references to Blue Tits etc. fell foul of a filtering system used by an American web directory to try and ensure that all adult content gets screened out. They soon put things right again.

long-tailed tit On Tuesday it appeared as a small item on the diary page of the Sheffield Star. By Wednesday I was surprised to see that it had made the front page of some Yorkshire newspapers, but then I was astounded that it also went into;

  • our national dailies such as; the Daily Star and The Sun (on page 3)
  • a 'wire service operating out of Tokyo'
  • five of our British radio stations
  • the front page of the Natal Mercury, the leading morning paper for the Durban area of South Africa
chaffinch But of course, it's not the 500 pages, the 2,000 watercolours or the literary parallels with the Rev. Gilbert White of Selborne that make my site of interest to the press; it's that funny, but, hopefully, thought-provoking, little story.

wren I feel as if the world is a village where gossip spreads fast. Friends stop my Mum in the street and say 'We saw Richard in the paper'. Neighbours on our lane tell me, 'Richard, you're letting down the tone of the neighbourhood!'. And in just the same way I get friendly comments from Australia, Florida, Ireland . . . Many thanks for your interest.

sparrowhawk Just one correspondent sounds a warning note, pointing out that it's never good practice to use vulgarity, even unintentional vulgarity, to promote a site on the internet. As it's in an e-mail it is just possible that he's just pulling my leg, but it's a serious point anyway and it gets me thinking. I agree with him, the balance between freedom and responsibility is a dilemma for the internet, as it is in any other medium.

I try to make my site suitable for anyone to use, but I'm also keen to be true to my experience of life. I would rather be true to nature than respectable.

A Hawk from a Handsaw

shark cloud
'I am but mad north-north-west; when the wind is southerly, I know a hawk from a handsaw.'


Double meanings are part of the richness of language, it would be wrong to standardise just for the sake of clear communication on the internet. It occurs to me that vulgarity and puns date from way before Shakespeare and they continue after Benny Hill.

I have a habit of seeing visual puns in the landscape; in the shape of clouds for instance, like the 'shark' I saw cruising over Thornhill a few weeks ago.

punk househorse chestnut Today it's a Victorian house on the hilltop, backed by tall conifers, that looks as though it has a punk haircut. A Horse Chestnut in the park definitely looks as if it is yawning. It's even lifting up its boughs as if stretching as it wakes up to another spring.

Silly, yes, but at least I'm in good company; stone age artists used visual puns; bumps in the cave wall became the starting point for their paintings of animals. Impressionism has been described as a visual joke; the world is seen as thousands of samples of colour, as if seen through the notch of a crooked finger.

The Hoarse Whisperer

muscovy ducks (sorry, there I go again)

Three Muscovy Ducks have wandered away from the farm pond to the laneside. The drake's glossy dark plumage reminds me of a Cormorant. He waddles after the smaller duck, vocalising, not by quacking, but by a sort of hoarse whisper.

first frog I saw a ripple on the pond yesterday, but today I see, for sure, our first Frog. The frogs in other ponds have been active for a few weeks now.

Richard Bell
Richard Bell,
wildlife illustrator

E-mail; 'richard@daelnet.co.uk'

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