October 14, 2018

Woodland Visit

Members of the North West Book Artists visited the woodland project on   Saturday October 6th despite all the dire warnings of travel and weather which in the event did not materialise.  (That is not say public transport would have been so easy.)  Because everyone was somewhere else ie. watching the Giants we few had the woodland to ourselves for the whole radiant  morning.

After our coffee we assembled at the entrance to the wood.  We gave ourselves an hour to quietly potter or sit and contemplate where we were without any instruction or agenda .  This can be challenging to some but surprisingly everyone went with the flow and found the experience a gentle enriching one.

Some beautiful poetry came as a result which will be used in a forthcoming publication.

Those who could not make the journey,  visited  their own  special place and will hopefully  produce a folding book to show at  our December meeting the subject of which will be................... 'REFLECTION'.

September 29, 2018

Strong winds and beech nuts

As the sun slowly sets into an autumnal glow the red berries and leaves seem to acquire a resonance beyond their own organic colour.

Parkgate Marsh - in glowing heat haze
The virginia creeper drapped over the garage is starting to turn into russet red and lime green-yellow. My all time favourite part of the year when migrating birds start to arrive on the gathering winds, the tides get higher and the days creep shorter.

For several cool evenings before locking up I have the habit of sitting in the garden listening to the companionable sound of House Martins  calling to each other as they wheel and feed overhead. Flying, feeding and constant calling is no mean feat all at once.  Most House Martins and Swallows have left for Africa, but we still seem to have some circling above the garden in the evenings, rain or shine.  They must be the very last few  to go. (In fact they left the night before the gales and storms ).

They are too fast to photograph so here is a drawing
Similarly Long tailed tits  keep in touch with each other constantly calling in the same way.   As you listen you can discern the distinct calls of individual birds.  Listening evening after evening it becomes a mellow comfortable sound,  telling that everything is still working as it should.  The British climate certainly keeps us guessing.

The wood was well battered after the gales and heavy rain and much as I wanted to visit it during that time and experience the wildness of it all,  it was not  safe enough.  The North West Book Artists  will be holding  their next workshop in the wood (avoiding the Giants taking over Liverpool). Hopefully some inspirational  art will be produced from the visit.

The World Museum in Liverpool have been running excellent one day workshops on a variety of individual natural subjects eg.  Fungi, Insects, mammals and birds.  Last year I went on my first workshop and we discussed and viewed 'Raptors'.  This September it was all about 'Seabirds'.

My argument about bird watching, especially identifying individuals within a species group from a distance, is very problematic unless they  line up in a row.  Obviously that is never going to happen.  In the museum they hold a large Victorian collection of stuffed samples and  it is possible to view them in this way.

Many of us are uncomfortable about stuffed birds and mammals and the consensus is that this practice contributed to the decline of many species.  BUT they are there and are used to teach us to appreciate what we have left.  So their sacrifice is not in vain.

August 26, 2018

The season has turned

As an ardent cloud watcher it has been very disappointing reading since last May with the relentless sunshine, heat and cloudless skies.  It is wonderful to get up in the mornings to smell the fresh air and dew laden foliage and wonder what the day is going to bring again.
The season has definitely turned with the advent of chilly mornings in the bathroom.

Rain on the way

From the top deck of a bus  you can see across the Wirral skyline for almost 360 degrees.  It is endlessly fascinating watching the incoming weather circulating around the coastline  between the Mersey and the Dee estuaries.  When a weather front is approaching the different cloud levels move in different directions.  That is a higher level blows one way and a lower level blows another, so weather movement is in constant flux.  This activity has been much missed during the never ending  heat wave and it is a relief to find it is all still working.

Adult and Juvenile swallows
The bird migration has started in earnest north and south.  There are hot spots around the country where  flocks can be seen traversing in very large numbers, Hoylake coastline at high tide is our local one.

In the  secret elm  woodland the atmosphere has changed dramatically, from stress to calm,  although this might be a reflection of my mood onto the wood, but I do not think so.  The canopy moves with gentle breezes, the brook is running as it should left to right, the ground underfoot is spongy and damp, cracks disappearing as the soil swells.  Even new ferns are sprouting amongst the dead dry fragments of the summer drought.  The only up side of the heat wave is that the usual vigorous undergrowth did not happen so it was possible to visit several  hidden place inaccessible in previous years.

image of the summer
A pair of Stock Doves have set up home in the woodland with the regular Wood Pigeons so I hope to catch an audio recording of them soon.

Really looking forward to autumn and collecting leaves for eco - dying paper.