Yellowhammers, dogs, and a Wood Pigeon

I quite often see Yellowhammers on my walk, as the flailed hedges suit them and there are plenty of those across the farm. I noticed a female cheeping in a rather desultory manner over the course of a week or so, and then to my delight over the weekend, she seemed to pair up with one of the two (maybe three) males I have heard singing. Yellowhammers, like most farmland birds, are in decline due to the usual suspects: habitat loss, lack of food, disturbance, disease etc etc but I am hopeful there may be chicks this year if the weather is kind and they find a safe place to nest.

I learnt a new thing last week, which rather shocked me as I like to feel I am quite enlightened on such things: it is the law to keep your dog on a lead on open access ground between 1 March and 31 July. This from the website:

I really hope this brings some relief to our wildlife in open spaces. I am fortunate that my dog is a pick-up rather than put-up breed of gundog so he’s content to stay on the track, and around here I know where the wildlife tend to hang out and can keep him close round corners and across fields.

Anyway, with my binoculars I was able to watch the Yellowhammers chasing each other over and through the hedge and they then came to rest, having spotted me some distance away. I decided to paint them for my Nature Notebook, and as it was Sunday I did some studies using my field guides; Sunday is my day off so I like to spend the time doing something art-related but recreational if I can. Followers of my blog will know I have a weakness for vintage field guides and the illustrations are beautiful.

I am doing a lot more field sketching practise, and enjoying the discipline of making the time to do it as I am improving. This morning I spotted a Wood Pigeon on the beech tree outside my bedroom window – it’s about ten feet away, and as the sun was shining in from the east I was in darkness as far as the pigeon was concerned and it couldn’t see me. I grabbed my sketchpad and the first pencil I could find and crept back in to my room. I probably wouldn’t have chosen a blunt 6B graphite stick if I’d had the option but still, at least I got some sketches down.

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