Distant DrummerMonday 20th March 2000
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.
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.
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.