100 days of sketches and notes from Gilling East

Jonathan Pomroy

100 days of daily sketches and notes from Gilling East. At least 30000 words and 7 sketchbooks filled and somewhere near 300 watercolours. Lockdown has pushed me to stay very local with my observations. I have gained so much through this project creatively, but it has also increased my awareness particularly of tiny, but precious areas of habitat. I can plot bird territories in all the local hedgerows and woods. I have come to know individual plants and watched them burst into leaf and flower, I have watched the whole transformation from early spring to mid summer. All the common summer migrant birds have arrived culminating with the dramatic screaming of swifts around the eaves again. I have seen so many wonderful skies. All this using less than a quarter of a tank fuel in my car. I could have seen far more species by travelling but I don’t think…

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July 5th- blue tits and swift diary

Jonathan Pomroy

I spent some time sketching young blue tits on the feeder outside the studio today. There are reasonable numbers around but I hope the wider population did better than ours who only fledged three out of six young from the nest box.

The wind today was was very unsettling. The buddleia has lost quite a few branches. I suspect there will be some large branches down in the woods. I watched the tops of trees in Gilling Woods swaying quite violently at times. The swifts came and went feeding their young, but seeing them was difficult. Unless you happen to be in the garden when one returns from a food gathering foray you miss them. I watched one approach the nest box down wind. Incredible flying with all the currents and complex air flows created by strong winds around structures. Once clear of obstructions they seem to take flying in…

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July 6th- swift diary

Jonathan Pomroy

Swift Diary

Yesterday evening was cool with a few heavy showers. Our breeding pair of swifts were out feeding alone, often very low over the garden. As the light faded they mingled with pipistrelle bats before finally retiring to the nest box. The wind was so strong and gusty at times yesterday that they sometimes took several attempts to approach and enter the nest box; even at the last second they will change course if they are unsure that the landing will be successful.

I stopped at Newburgh Priory Lake this morning. A single swift went round and round, eventually dropping down to drink. If you look closely at my watercolour you can see the swift taking a sip of water from the lake with wings held in a V shape. The accuracy of the swift’s flight was wonderful to watch as it flew low enough to scoop water into…

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July 7th- more grey skies, swift diary

Jonathan Pomroy

Our swift nestlings are growing well, but they are not receiving many feeds and one is looking decidedly smaller than the other. I think they will be fine as long as their parents survive this difficult spell of weather. As I write it is 12.5C and we have just had a heavy shower. It is one of the coldest July days I can remember. Low level, high energy swift activity is now a distant memory. I am pinning my hopes on the forecast for this weekend when It looks like high pressure will again take control. I feel sure that prospecting swifts will return and they will probably be spectacular as they make up for lost time; but as always with swifts nothing is guaranteed.

Today’s sky watercolour just about sums up the weather since 27th June. A single breeding swift approaches the back garden with a bolus of insect…

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July 8th- hummingbird hawk-moth, dragonflies and swift diary

Jonathan Pomroy

Great excitement this morning! If I am working I can rely on Tolly to spot wildlife in the garden and rush in to tell me. This morning he spotted a hummingbird hawk-moth visiting the Verbena bonariensis for nectar. We both enjoyed watching it restlessly exploring the flowers for a couple of minutes before it flew directly north.

We had a walk around Ampleforth lower lake this morning. The sun was out for a while prompting lots of dragonfly and damselfly activity. We saw magnificent emperor and brown hawker dragonflies patrolling the edges. The brown hawker is a favourite insect of mine; their wings seem to glow bronze, especially when backlit and seen against a dark background.  Lots of common damselflies were on the wing and we had good binocular views of red-eyed damselflies on floating vegetation. This is a apparently one of the most Northerly populations of this attractive damselfly.

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July 9th- redstart and another grey, cold July day

Jonathan Pomroy

On a very dull, cold July morning I drove to the Post Office via a couple of decent local birding spots. Newburgh Priory lake was looking quite dramatic as I arrived with very heavy cloud and just a hint of brightness in the Ampleforth direction. The scene was almost monotone, just hints of dark summer green in the trees. The water was steely grey. An oystercatcher was resting on the far bank and a single juvenile shelduck swam around the north side of the lake. When I scanned the lake with binoculars I picked up a small group of swallows and house martins feeding in the shelter of the trees at the east end of the lake. They were feeding so low over the water I think they were touching the surface at times. If you look closely at my watercolour you can see a few of them.

Moving on…

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July 10th- swifts and big shower clouds

Jonathan Pomroy

The young swifts are benefitting from a much better day. It is still not particularly warm for July but the adults are coming back reasonably frequently with full throat pouches. Pressure is rising and it does look like we will have a few dry days. It will be interesting to see whether this brings a return of prospecting birds. Martin Calvert of Leeds Swifts had some prospecting birds back this morning, so I am optimistic that we will see some here soon.

There were some magnificent skies early in the afternoon with towering Cumulonimbus clouds moving north to south quite briskly. We had some heavy bursts of rain and one or two rumbles of thunder came from these storms but they were never close. I revelled in sketching some skies in watercolour today. The afternoon saw some warm sunny spells and I dared to hope that I might see some…

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What if this is the last tree I work on?

Adam's Art and Bonsai Blog

I’m on vacation down in Naples Florida. About three hours or so south and west of my home, Orlando. It’s a whole different type of climate, very much more tropical than Orlando. I haven’t seen much since I’ve been here though, I’m still on the tail end of a recovery from some illnesses.

First, on May 29, I had a colonoscopy to look into the state of my intestines and what would be needed to finally reverse my ileostomy. Unfortunately, my large intestines are, pardon the pun, crap, and the procedure perforated them, filling my abdominal cavity with the medical gasses they use in the procedure, and I was in the hospital for a week or so.

Then I got to go home, to my big comfy couch and, through copious medications, the pain slowly went away.

Aha! But then came the pneumonia. That’s been another few weeks added to…

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