Oughtershaw BecksandpipersEvery time we drive over the cattle grid, a sandpiper pipes at us in obvious annoyance and arcs around in an ostentatiously level flight, flashing its wing-stripes. It’s on sentry duty again this afternoon as we walk down the track. It perches on a fence post to pipe at us until we leave its marshy patch but a little further along a pair of sandpipers fly up from the rushes alongside Oughtershaw Beck.

We find a spot downstream where we can sit at the beck-side, undisturbed by waders. The beck, which is rather low at present, plunges over a bed of limestone. The blocks and cracks remind me of the clints and grykes of the limestone pavement at Malham Cove.

Oughtershaw BeckWhen I’m drawing a subject like this which is almost abstract with its interlocked, repetitive shapes, I keep finding distinctive features to act as landmarks as I map out the adjacent sections of the formation, briefly giving them names so that I can plot a point as “level with ‘The Brow'” or “directly below ‘The Triangle'”.

I’m wishing that I had a length of string so that I could strap my spiral bound sketchbook around my neck. I really wouldn’t like it to drop in the beck.

As I look down I notice water avens growing from the turf that projects out over the water. Here, probably somewhat beyond easy reach for browsing sheep, there are probably half a dozen species within a square foot, including lady’s mantle, birdsfoot trefoil, plantain and a sedge.

Redstart and Redpoll

redstart6 p.m.: perching on a tree guard by the edge of the birch wood alongside Oughtershaw Beck, a male redstart sits preening. It occasionally darts up for insects.

redpollOnce again siskins outnumber other birds at the feeders. A more unusual visitor is a redpoll. It isn’t much bigger than the siskins and is considerably smaller than the occasional goldfinches and chaffinches which fly in to feed.

Tawny Owlet

tawny owl chick

owletThere’s a single tawny owl chick sitting in the morning sun perching on the lower section of the barn door. The owls have nested under the roof beam in the barn, stuffing sticks into the end of a piece of sacking that had been draped beneath.

The resident blackbird scolds it. This is the farmyard’s resident¬†blackbird that, Fiona tells us, has been angry ever since it arrived.