Monday, 27 April 2009

Work in Progress

The poem you saw earlier has been tucked away for a couple of weeks so today it was time to look at it again. I've kept the first line - and that's all. I plan to keep the original second stanza as it holds a truth albeit for a different poem. So here's the next (but not the last) version. The rhythm needs smoothing in places and there are a few words I'm not satisfied with. I had planned a multi-layered poem but the poem has decided it wants to be simple.... Time to put it away for a couple more weeks.

Willow Warblers
White Coppice, April 14th 2009

The willows aren't alive until the warblers arrive,
winding their songs through the trees,
encouraging catkins out of their buds
to entice their pollen away.
d silver birches stir from their stupors
pulse sap to the beat of green-feather calls.

Leaves will grow and shimmer the trees,
and the warblers will hide in their homes,
a cuckoo will lay deceit in a nest,
shoulder out the birthrights.
The world will quietly turn,
towing these songsters in its arc,
yet some will survive

and renew their gift of irrepressible hope
to start another year.

Willow warbler photo by Mike Atkinson. Follow the link in the side bar to his site.

Sunday, 26 April 2009

Cuckoo! Cuckoo!

What a pleasing morning! I heard my first cuckoo of the year - loud, clear and near. Eventually I found him sitting out in the open in a dead tree.

I'd also had news of a pied flycatcher. So off I went.... I didn't know what his song was like (not a good start) but I went anyway. I thought I heard an unfamiliar call and saw something dark arrowing off.... so I waited ... and waited ... and filtered out the calls I knew until I heard this unfamiliar one again - only this time it kept singing. I'm not very good at locating where sounds originate but finally I caught sight of the songster - a beautiful pied flycatcher sitting in the open. And he sang on and on and on. How wonderful. And finally he treated me to a flypast: darting through the trees and arcing right round me. Wow - so lucky me!
Let's hope a suitably impressed female pied flycatcher comes his way.

Photo of cuckoo used by kind permission of Rick Spencer
Photo of pied flycatcher by Mike Atkinson

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Wandering into Whimbrels

Sometimes we do get what we wish for. I had been hoping to see some migrating whimbrel ... and as I was completing my tetrad visit this morning a sound from the sky alerted me to a flock of 24 landing in an adjacent field (Sarscow Farm) to feed. I didn't want to disturb them so just watched from the path with my binocs.

And what a difference a dry spell makes; I managed to cover my tetrad without getting caked in mud - a first! Also what a difference in bird species. Still a few rooks around but most of the other corvids have left and in their place are waders: lapwings, curlew and passing whimbrel.

The hedgerows were busy with sparrows, finches, tits, dunnocks, robins and wrens. A pair of chiffchaff were showing anxiety - I must have stopped near their nest so moved away. I love this time of year when the hedgerows are full of colours: white blackthorn flowers, fresh green hawthorn leaves just bursting and the distant purple hue of waking trees.

Local information told me about yellowhammers and owls which today I didn't see but what a joy to watch a pair of circling buzzard and a pair of kestrel hunting over the fields near this derelict farm. And off Holker Lane a single single skylark threw his song against a clear cerulean sky.

Click on the photos and they'll appear huge. Photo of whimbrel taken by Chris Rae of Chorley NATS

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

The willows aren't alive until the warblers arrive

A draft:

The willows aren't alive until the warblers arrive

encouraging the flowers to burst from their buds,

and Black Brook is empty without a pair of dippers
chirring down its course,

and the moors are more desolate without larks

singing down like the sun.

This absence of conversation,

the stony silence of your back
as it steadily mounts the track,

causes me to fall further and further behind

until I politely take a different path.

Photo of Willow Warbler by Dave F Barker

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Wheatear arrive at Solomnn's Temple

What a joy to hear the birch and willows at White Coppice once again alive with warbling - a wonderful Easter gift. I've sooo missed them. And then another treat - a redpoll drying itself after splashing in Black Brook - what a great day this was becoming! The nuthatch were very vocal as were the multitude of wrens and from nearby trees a green woodpecker yaffled and then a curlew came burbling overhead and landed in a field. After a tip-off about a redstart I took a diversion but didn't see it. Maybe next time.

Up on the moors everything was singing: pipits, larks, stonechat and a pair of very flirting buntings (reed that is). I thought I'd try a new path today so followed the map to Solomon's Temple which turned out to be a grand name for a derelict farm. But to my delight was the tell-tale white rump of a wheatear bounding over the field and landing on a wall. My first sighting this year.

Earlier this week I went to Croston Finney where several pairs of lapwing have claimed a field each, also spotted there were a pair of buzzards, a merlin, yellow hammer and a pair of hares. I also saw a roe deer at Roddlesworth and lots more.

Wheatear by Rick Spencer of Chorley NATS
Willow Warbler by Mike Atkinson

Saturday, 11 April 2009

The trouble with picturesque places

Living here

We long for the eerie dusk
when the traffic has bumped back down the track,
when we can quietly stroll through the meadows alone,
wait for the last robin's call,
stand still in the silence and watch
as woodcock rise out of the woods,
haunting the edge of the sky.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Update - Fings to do before I'm fifty

A few folks have asked me how I'm doing with my list so here's the progress so far:
  • I've spotted waxwing and crossbills but still have firecrest and and flycatchers to find
  • I'm still looking for someone to accompany me up Scar Fell and Coniston Old Man
  • I am swimming 30 lengths a week but its soooo boring I'm thinking of dusting off my bike now the better weather is here
  • I did loose a few pounds but put them back on again! A work in progress....
  • Have done a pilates course and have enrolled on another next term.
  • Slow progress with the bird calls because my aural memory is - pathetic!
  • Sent my children's story off - now the long wait for a reply
  • Haven't entered a poetry competition yet - must get on with that as I must with the short story. But I have an article appearing locally soon
  • I've read Three Men in a Boat
  • The manicure and foot spa will be a pre-birthday party treat. Speaking of which, the room and ceilidh band are booked. But maybe I should save the foot spa until the day after the do?
  • Have eaten wild mushrooms at a restaurant but still plan to pick & eat some wild ones for myself. I've also had scallops in Harrogate
  • My foxgloves are growing and I've planned where I'm going to grow more herbs
  • I've changed my hairstyle (see photo) but now plan to change it back. I've been told it makes me look older - and that really will not do!
  • I'm going to read at the Polyverse festival in July
  • I've not yet been to Norfolk
  • I'm still working on how to fly (other than by plane). Paragliding perhaps?
  • I've not yet got my fishnets, fell into a fountain or decided what feat I shall perform - but there's still time - it's not October yet

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Like a hare....

Just to show that I'm trying to do a poem a day, here's one from day four. It had to have an animal in the title. And because I like themes, I'm trying to link each poem to White Coppice or thereabouts.

Like a hare

The season lies flat in the field
quietly watching me pass,
but there'll be other days
when its ears will lift to the chiffchaff's chiff,
when it will stand tall as a curlew's call,
bound high like a lark in a clear, blue sky,
flit round the dry stone walls,
and settle itself in the scent of plump, yellow gorse-tips.

Monday, 6 April 2009


Just thought you might be interested in reading my poem Chiffchaff which Juliet Wilson has published on Bolts of Silk.
For anyone who hasn't visited the site, it's well worth a visit. Here is the link:
Photo of Chiffchaff by Dave F Barker. His website is:

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Paving paths across the moors - what do you think?

Toady's walk was more for exercise than birds: White Coppice - Great Hill - Spitlers Edge - Sam Pasture - Lead Mine Clough - Jepson's Gate - High Bullough - Anglezarke - Stronstrey Bank - White Coppice. A 4-hour mainly moorland walk.
A fair proportion of Spitlers Edge is covered by substantial flagstones (about 6 inches thick). Although somewhat out of character, I am generally in favour of them because, far from destroying the natural habitats they cross, they actually preserve them. I see so many pathways widened when mountain bikers muddy them ... so walkers create parallel paths which the bikers also use ... and before long there is a 10- 6ft wide path eating into the landscape. The flagstones, if properly laid, don't erode so walkers and bikers stick to the paths and encroachment into specialised habitats doesn't tend to happen. It's also prevents casual walkers getting lost! What do you think?

Sightings included green woodpeckers, stonechat, several curlew, lapwing, larks & pipits singing everywhere on the moors, buzzard, kestrel, oystercatcher, little grebe & goosander. And let's not forget the dazzling reflections from the pools nesting in the peat.

And man's best friend? A jogger's dog, all proud ears and tail, running alongside his master carefully carrying his all-important water bottle in its mouth. Ahhhhh!

Photo of Spitlers Edge copied from Curlew by Colin Smith - follow the link in the side bar to his website- well worth a visit.

Saturday, 4 April 2009

Poem A Day - April

For anyone who would appreciate some inspiration, Robert Lee Brewer is providing poetry prompts; one a day for every day in April. By the end of it you could have a chapbook of poems ready to edit.
The blog address is,month,2009-04.aspx
Good Luck.

from the field book

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