The Riverside Hide

juvenile siskinwoodpecker sketch12.28 p.m.: The male great spotted woodpecker arrives but he’s out of luck: five crows have just been down to the feeding station and they’ve knocked the fat ball feeder off the post.

A young siskin, so streaky that I wondered if it was a redpoll, joins the adult males on the niger feeder. In their bright, neat plumage the males look as if they’re in uniform and ready to be assertive, in contrast the juvenile fades into the background and appears innocuous and inoffensive. The wing stripes and a hint of green in the tail give a hint of the neater adult plumage to come.

Waterfall in Watercolour

oughtbeck2.20 – 4 p.m.: I finish the pen drawing and start adding watercolour to my drawing of the little waterfall where Oughtershaw Beck crosses and exposure of limestone. I start with the lightest colour which is the pale ochre grey of the limestone then I add the brighter yellow green of the moss before going on to the water, the face of the rock that is in the shade and the darker green patches of moss.

I try to give some impression of the solidity of the rock but realise that if I take things too far I will lose the sparkle of the water so on my third top left to bottom right progress across the drawing with my series of watercolour washes, I decide that is enough and anyway it’s time to go back to Nethergill for a pot of tea and some homemade flapjack. Wish I had more time for this kind of drawing!

The wood avens that I spotted the other day in the turf on the river bank at my feet as I sat in this same spot appears to have been washed away but birdsfoot trefoil is still in flower and there are leaves of lady’s mantle, also plantain and at least one species of sedge.

Walk to Swarthghyll

The late afternoon thunderstorm isn’t as heavy as those we’ve had on previous days so we take a walk across the moor to the next farm up the valley on a calm pearly evening. The buzzard sits calling on the same post that it was on the other day.

reed buntingIt’s impossible to do this walk without seeing several meadow pipits sitting on fence posts or on the power lines but it’s worth checking out every bird on a post. One of them turns out to be a male reed bunting, a new bird for our Nethergill list. I don’t remember seeing it in previous years.

curlewThe curlews are calling over the buttercup meadows by the beck. A pied wagtail perches on the power line at Swarthghyll. Northern marsh orchids are in fresh flower on the tree-lined track to the farm. There’s a reminder of more everyday scenes: wood pigeon and mallard in the field by the bird hide.