Wild West Yorkshire nature diary
wood anemonenest

Distant Drummer

Monday 20th March 2000
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dogs mercury silver birch AS I SKETCH Dog's Mercury at the edge of the wood, there's a torrent of song from a Skylark above the field behind me, while, over on the other side of the valley, cattle are lowing noisily to each other, like a football team in excited conversation. The sun shines between the passing cumulus clouds; a perfect spring day and, for once, I've got the chance to spend it outdoors making sketches of woodland plants for my forthcoming book on Coxley Valley.

If ever I was to make it to paradise, which is doubtful, it would have to be something like this.

My short spell watching waterbirds the other day made me realise that this spring I want to try and arrange to spend more time drawing from nature. Most of the sketches for this diary are made from memory when I'm writing up the day's events.

long-tailed titnest A Long-tailed Tit flying towards me seems to have strange face-markings. It's actually carrying a beakful of nesting material - a flake of lichen (Parmelia?). It appears agitated but flies straight to a fork, just above my head level, in the slender Silver Birch next to me. It has constructed a cup of lichen, held together by spider's webs. I've always wanted to see one of these nests. The mottled grey lichen blends well with the worn bark of the tree. Before it is finished the tits will incorporate as many as 2,000 feathers into the lining. The finished nest is domed, with a small entrance hole near the top. The adults fold their tails over their heads to fit in the cramped interior.

I leave quickly so as not to disturb it.

wood anemonegreat spotted woodpecker A Great Spotted Woodpecker drums in the distance as a I draw. Then, while I'm sketching the Wood Anemone, it flies to the top of a tall oak not far from me. Its drumming has the resonance of an orchestral instrument, as it echoes around this narrow section of the valley.

Richard Bell
Richard Bell,
wildlife illustrator

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

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