Just this week I have seen the first Bumble Bee of the year bumbling around the garden looking for a suitable nesting place and in London I watched as a brimstone butterfly fluttered around in the sun as if it were the height of Summer. In the garden the blackbird is singing and protecting his lady, the sparrows squabble for dominance and the starlings are gleaming and glossy. On the marshes the lapwings are displaying, swooping down and up with a loud ‘peewit’ and the rush of air through primaries, joining in ritual overhead battle with rivals. Avocets have returned to the scrapes and they are chasing anything that dares to land on their island claims.
I have seen the mating of urban peregrines, brief encounters high on the office rooftops. I have been lucky enough to have been watching one pair since last summer. All through the winter they have been resident on a girder that runs the length of an ugly, ‘60s designed block, lending a grace and beauty that only comes when nature invades the grey spaces of the city. It seems that the pair may have relocated to another place to lay their eggs and raise their young though as they have been absent for some while now. It’s disappointing for me but I wish them well wherever they’ve gone to.
Summer this year will be different for us because, for the first time in six years, we won’t be going to the farm in Norfolk. Instead we will be flying off to Singapore for three weeks. To say that I’m excited by the prospect would be something of an understatement! Exotic birds and wildlife await and there is a sketchbook tucked away ready for its moment in the sun. We’ll miss the farm though, as will our friends who’ve accompanied us for all those holidays. As a little reminder I’ve painted one of our friends in a favourite spot where she likes to paint by the fishing lake.
Summer on the marshes can be wonderfully peaceful, with the sounds of a million insects humming along to the songs of skylarks. Herons stalk the shallow dykes among the reeds and rushes, barely disturbing the surface of the water until, in a lightning fast strike their heads dart in to capture some unwary fish or perhaps a frog or newt. It’s this hazy, hot, still, summer’s day feeling that I have tried to capture in my latest painting ‘Summer Heron’.