Wader scrape hide, 1.30 pm, 59ºF, 15ºC, breezy with occasional showers
‘Here come five pandas!’ quips one birdwatcher, and he’s right, the belted Galloway cattle that form part of the little herd here have same pattern and the panda’s barrel-like rotundness. The herd move from island to island across the lagoon, like a scene from a wildlife documentary.
I’m surprised how deep the channel between the two nearest island is; the cattle launch themselves splashily from the edge and swim across.
The purple loosestrife is now at its best at the RSPB Old Moor reserve.
Two photographers in search of dragonflies apologise for trawling across my field of view, requesting that I don’t include them in the picture.
A shame, they would have added some scale. The loosestrife is shoulder high.
I think of rushes as being like the hard rush and soft rush; spiky and cylindrical, like a clump of green porcupine quills, but this is a rush too; jointed rush, Juncus articulatus, gets its name because the hollow stem is divided by internal ‘joints’.
It has clusters of star-shaped brown flowers which develop into egg-shaped fruits.
This dry seedhead was growing on a grassy path edge. It reminds me of bluebell but we’re not in woodland – or old hedgerows – here and when I check it out in the book I’m able to confirm that it’s yellow rattle, Rhinanthus minor, which is semi-parasitic on the roots of grasses.
It is a member of the figwort family, Scrophulariaceae.
Each rounded capsule has a short beak at its tip. As it rattles in a breeze it distributes its winged seeds.
Bands of Blue and Green
I felt that I was getting a bit fussy as I painted the loosestrife so I went for a simpler approach with this nearby pond. With the quickest of pencil outlines I went straight on to the rapidly changing sky and its matching reflection, followed by bands of the lightest greens in each area to indicate distant trees, meadow, reedbed and reedbed reflections, plus the nearest willows.
With every bit of paper assigned a tone I could them add mid-tones of foliage and finally the darkest patches, adding a few of the brown branches of the willows.