The Raven in the Bailey

Knaresborough Castle, North Yorkshire: ‘Why would they keep ravens at a castle?’ I ask Isabella, Her Majesty’s Keeper of the Ravens, Duchy of Lancaster, ‘because they did from back in medieval times?’ She explains that there is no documentary evidence to suggest that anyone was paid specifically for the role at the Tower of London in […]

Dog’s Mercury

Stoneycliffe Wood, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust nature reserve, 3.30 p.m., 39ºF, 4ºC: The only flowers showing on the woodland floor so far are the spikes of male flowers on dog’s mercury. The inconspicuous female flowers are on separate plants. Dog’s mercury is a member of the spurge family. In south-facing hedge-banks, lesser celandine is already in flower […]

Ash Stump

I return to finish my drawing of the old ash stump. It is growing on a south-facing bank that is supported by a drystone wall. The small rabbit is back, same time, same place: on the grassy slope next to the tree. Yesterday I also made a note of magpie, wood pigeon and of two long-tailed tits investigating the branches of […]

Drawing in Gloves

2.25 p.m., 43ºF, 8ºC, still and sunny: I spotted this ash stump growing on an old stone embankment wall when we visited the Go Outdoors store, Middlestown, yesterday. I’d gone looking for grippy gloves because the welt on the fingerless mittens that I’ve been using gets uncomfortable if you’re drawing for a while. My knuckles have been […]

A Puddle in the Park

2.30 p.m., 13ºC, 55ºF, blustery winds and continuous showers from the west: Forty or fifty black-headed gulls flock down when children scatter breadcrumbs by the semi-permanent puddle alongside the duck pond at Thornes Park. I spot only one gull with the full chocolate brown mask of its summer plumage; some have just a dark dot behind the eye, others are at […]