Insects on Ivy

wasp on ivyIt’s now twenty years since I started writing this online version of my nature diaries and sketchbooks and I remember my first ever post on my Wild West Yorkshire website included a sketch of wasp visiting the flowers of the ivy.

fly on ivyToday wasps and flies were busy visiting the flowers on next door’s ivy. The clusters of male and female flowers might not be showy but there are plenty of them. The decadent fusty-ness of ivy is a scent that sums up autumn for me, as much as flowering privet does for late summer.

It seems like one last party for the assembled wasps and flies before the onset of winter.


My first blog postInsects on ivy from my first blog post (although the word blog hadn’t been invented then) for Sunday 8 October 1998.

The drawings were scanned from my A5 page-a-day diary and coloured in Photoshop, probably, at that time, using a mouse rather than a graphics pad.

I quickly moved on to drawing in an A4 sketchbook, which saved having to erase the ruled lines in the diary. I didn’t start using watercolour until three months later, which was far less fiddly than adding colour with a mouse.

Snow Showers

snow sketch

weatherwatch reportCoxley Valley, 10 a.m., 30ºF, -2ºC: I cross the beck which is brown with melt water to draw on a flat area that, thirty years ago, was a meadow. Since then alders and crack willows have spread from the side of the beck. wild garlicAt this time of year the leaves of wild garlic are starting to show amongst them but today a centimetre of snow covers the ground.  Wet snow patters on my fishing umbrella as I draw ivy and bramble on a fallen willow.

It’s so long since I drew in the snow (as opposed to drawing it as seen through our patio windows) that I record the scene in a photograph and submit it to the BBC Weather Watchers website.

snow on log

wren fernA wren flits across the puddly path as I leave the wood and hops under a bramble; a robin sings despite the snow shower. song thrushThe song thrush by the path at the edge of the beck isn’t singing but I have heard it at the edge of the wood when I’ve been drawing in the back garden.

Link: BBC Weather Watchers

Pigeons in the Wood

WOOD PIGEONS have been gathering in the treetops – about a hundred of them fly up over the wood on this cold and misty morning. Their regular foraging in the fields has been first snow-covered then frozen solid this week. We’ve got a book delivery to make today and we feel glad that we didn’t have to set out yesterday when we pass a car, which must have skidded on the ice, being towed out of a hedge. Casualty departments were 40 to 50% busier after the freezing rain.

After feeding on sunflower hearts around our bird feeders, the Pheasants often pause to nibble the leaves of broccoli in our cabbage patch as they walk down the garden path back towards the meadow and the wood.

A Heron, looking rather fed up, sits hunched on a perch for an hour or more on a branch of one of the Crack Willows by the stream. It appears to be undisturbed by any dog walkers who may be passing by below.

Voles, Moles and Unwelcome Guests

There are vole holes in the lawn and mole-hills in the flower border near the bird table but the burrow that I’m not so keen to see is one that leads from under a paving slab straight under the plastic compost bin. I can see that the chopped end of an onion has been dragged down from the bin. I want to recycle all our vegetable peelings but we can’t control which creatures are attracted to nibble them. I think that the answer is to re-think the way we compost anything that is potentially edible and relocate our plastic compost bins, currently behind the shed, to the main wooden compost bins at the end of the garden beyond the greenhouse. We never put any cooked food on the compost heap but then, being brought up in the Yorkshire tradition of thrift, we contribute virtually nothing to the estimated 7.2 million tons of food thrown out each year by households in the United Kingdom. It has been estimated that the average family with children throws out about £680 of food each year.

Ivy Berries

This evening two Wood Pigeons fly down to eat berries on the mass of Ivy that grows over our neighbour’s fence. A male Blackbird also tucks into this seasonal supply.