Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Watching Woodcock

I went to White Coppice & Stronstrey Bank last night. Spotted a pair of dippers, two swallows and loads of willow warblers - they really are the sound of summer. Lots of other common species too. My dawdle to dusk was rewarded by seeing two roe deer, 6 silhouetted woodcock and hearing a tawny owl. What a way to end the day...
Image from

Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Getting it out there

I've signed up for public lending rights:
A few friends from different parts of the country have agreed to request from the field book from their local libraries - thanks. I don't expect to make more than a few pennies but the important issue is that it makes the book more accessible to the general public.
I've also sent a copy to the Poetry Library, London. Hope someone there enjoys it.

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

from the field book will soon be in the local libraries

Yes, from the field book will soon be in the local libraries. I left a copy at Chorley Central Library for the attention of the lady on the selection panel. I'm pleased they said, 'Yes.'
Now how to get copies into libraries further afield...?

Sunday, 20 April 2008

Day 2 (final) of The Bird Race

I learn my lessons so today dressed like an onion in thermal trousers, ski-vest, T-shirt, jumper, fleece, windproof layer etc.... So cold even the birds were keeping a low profiles. I have to admire the resilience of the gulls that seem to thrive on biting winds. And not forgetting the lapwings who continue with their buffetting displays, their broad wings mastering the wind.
Our score, without much thanks to me, was 77 species (down on last year's 89).

Photo by Amos T Fairchild

Saturday, 19 April 2008

Day 1 of the Bird Race

Great fun visiting places with scopes and binoculars looking for as many different bird species as we could find in Chorley borough. Quite a challenging day with the windy weather but we managed over 60 species. The best moment for me today was watching the eerie silhouettes of woodcock flying into the dusk at Roddlesworth.

6am start tomorrow - hmmm!

Friday, 18 April 2008

Everyday try something new....

I enjoyed reading last night and Colin Smith's accompanying photos were excellent - wish I could take photos like that!

I once read it's good to do something different everyday: a new recipe, going home a different way etc. So I decided to explore all the local footpaths - and there's plenty to go at. Yesterday I planned a short circular from Botany Bay (Chorley) to The Nab (a great Lancashire name, that...). The 1st path was barbwired off but I'd have to have swum through mud to follow it anyway.... so I resorted to plan B (always have a plan B). A pleasant walk with more paths leading off to explore on another day. I'll keep going until I know them all. Not a lot of birds yesterday but I expect come the winter those fields will be full of redwing and fieldfare flocks.

The photo is one of mine. It shows Botany Bay and the Leeds Liverpool Canal

Thursday, 17 April 2008


Thank goodness the migraine is going because tonight I will be reading at the Members' Evening for Chorley and District Natural History Society. I'll be presenting the cover photographer, Chris Rae, with a complimentary signed copy of from the field book and Colin Smith, a really good photographer, is providing some slides to accompany the reading. I've never read with slides before - should be interesting.


Christine Bousfield has just selected sanderlings as Write Out Loud poem of the month. Thanks Christine, I'm really flattered.

Sunday, 13 April 2008

Embracing Swallows

This Willow Warbler is another of Mike Atkinson's photos. If you haven't yet checked out his site - do. Just click on the link from my blog - but don't copy his photos! Inspirational though they are....

Today I got my boots muddy, tramping my tetrad for the Birdaltas Bird survey - and what joy - I saw my first 4 swallows in Euxton this year. Welcome back! They were flick-flack-twisting over Commissary's Farm, taking a well deserved feast, I think, after flying all that way. Glad to report that willow warblers and chiffchaff have also returned. This photo is a willow warbler, very like the chiffchaff until it starts to sing. Also the chiffchaff flicks its tail every time it flits, flits, flits through the trees.


With a glide and flutter they land
on telephone wires. Excited chatter.
Saharan sun-scorched faces,
grass-dust and salt-spray still fresh on bellies,
they thirst to procreate.
Before phones ever ring
they know
when the feet of flies tickle English celandines,
and wings beat,
butterflying north,
tracing the curves of Earth,
weaving lovers’ lace
through the skies.
And as violets rush to colour
swallows sweep to barns,
build, rebuild their nests,
hatch, feed, fledge
the returning pulse of life.


Ahhh thanks for the award Hesitant Scribe. And if anyone hasn't already visited her blog, click on my link to it - this lady is truly inspiring. Courage over adversity is her name....

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Chiffchaff (first draft)

6th April 2008 Withnell Fold

Even though snow is marbling the trees,
these chiff-chaff-chiff-chaff-chiffs are heard,
winding their spells through leafless worlds.
The steadiness of the chiff-chaff beat,
reassuring me that this flaky white
is no more than peeling old paint,
dead skin brushing off
as the season pulls on a new linen coat.

charm from a distant land,
flamboyantly bowing its tail through the trees,
casting its hope with its hop-flick-hops,
dispelling the snow as it steadily goes,
calling each leaf to stir in each bud,
unwavering herald that Earth really does
now tilt towards a North African sun.

Sunday, 6 April 2008


Visited Withnell Fold today and saw three chiffchaffs (my first this year) flicking their tails as they wove spring songs through snow-marbled trees.

I've copied the photo from a friend's website -
Worth a visit

Saturday, 5 April 2008

A chance to meet my publisher

Well here we are: Cait, Carol and Sam (publisher, author, editor) at Wigan Words.

Lovely to put Cait's face and personality to the email signatures (I hope she thought so too!). And Sam - gets better looking each time I meet him. Always a delight.

Great to see Kate Edwards again and listen to her read.

from the field book

from the field book
An inspiring gift for anyone who enjoys watching nature.