Monday, 25 August 2008

Swallows, little owls and other old friends.

We got back from holiday on Friday afternoon, tired from the journey but also feeling that we'd had a great week. We arrived at the farm around 3.15 p.m and the sun was shining, just as it had been all day, nothing but toy story clouds in a pure blue sky. Beth and I took a walk around the cottages and down to the fishing pond once we'd settled in and had the first of many cups of tea for the week. The farm and cottage are familiar to us and it felt a bit like coming home since it was our fifth consecutive year's holiday there.

Over the paddock pond we watched a shimmering display as a kingfisher hovered in front of us. I was (as usual) too slow with the camera but I didn't really mind. At least it meant that the kingfishers were around and sometimes it is better to simply enjoy sights and experiences. Above us a large group of swallows chittered and whirred whilst, on the power cables, the youngsters waited to be fed. They'll soon be independant though and starting the long journey south to the wintering grounds of Africa. It's amazing to think of the incredible journey through all kinds of dangers that these tiny, delicate looking birds make. A group of thirty or so goldfinches flashed black and gold amongst the thistles on the fallow paddock. I love the fact that the collective noun for a group of goldfinches is a 'charm'. It's so appropriate for birds as appealing as goldfinches.

As steely grey clouds blew in, bourne by a brisk westerly, the rooks began to gather, darker against dark, ready to return to the rookery by the church. The rain held off though and before tea I had time to drop Beth off back at the cottage and scoot off for a quick check on some familiar features that usually play home to various creatures. I was delighted to find that the first of the little owl trees was occupied, although I don't think he was quite so pleased to see me. Little owls almost always look grumpy with that permanent scowl that they wear, but this one's look was positively thunderous, what great little characters they are! A green woody put in a brief appearance on what I know as the woodpecker tree and stayed just long enough for a quick sketch, then I returned to the cottage for more tea and a much appreciated meal.

I spent the evening pleasantly digesting and chatting in the company of family and friends. It was a great start to the week and, when I eventually crawled into bed, I lay my head on the pillow and fell asleep, happy and full of anticipation to see what the morning would bring.


Jo said...

He does look thunderous doesn't he. I will look forward to see what you do for a painting of him.

Ted Mahsun said...

I love the sentence: "...nothing but toy story clouds in a pure blue sky." Brilliant!

(dropped in from Jo's blog)

Mike Woodcock said...

Thanks Ted. I sometimes make notes of words or phrases like that in my sketchbook when they occur to me.

Elina Seppänen said...

Hey, enjoying the blog. =) The little owl is a delightful little fellow, too bad we don't have them here in the "far north". Just love that sketch of the grumpy owl. =)

(Having trouble with the comment, hope I don't double post...)


Mike Woodcock said...

Hi Elina, thanks for dropping by. I love little owls, they're full of attitude and character.