line.gif - 1064 Bytes
wood pigeon

An Acre of Willow

Friday, 16th February 2001, West Yorkshire

willows by the Calder I TAKE A FLASK of Earl Grey tea and sit by a power line post overlooking a bend in the river, opposite the margarine factory. In front of me there are several acres of Willow saplings, which look as if they were planted two or three years ago. There's no sign of birdlife as I watch today, but it will be worth returning in the spring to see if this new habitat attracts nesting warblers.

river cliff It's warm this afternoon - ten degrees in the sun. Today the river is low and murmurs gently over the rapids but, during the floods, in sterner mood, it re-cut its silty bank. At the foot of this low cliff a small wedge of a beach of cobbles and pebbles of sandstone has developed.

Loose columns of Winter Gnats dance by the edge of the path in the afternoon sun.

germander speedwell Small blue flowers dot the Speedwell. Five Wood Pigeons, as grey as wood smoke, fly up into the oaks.

great tit A Great Tit calls from the thorns like a 'bullet from a bell' (as they said of Bix Biderbeck). A Blue Tit fluffs itself up like a soufflé

jay Three Jays fly over the canal at power line height, one after the other. A flash of colour and, like a butterfly, they have a rather stiffish manner of flapping their wings.

Two cyclists say 'Cheers!' as I stand aside to let them past along the towpath. They leave behind them a sweet-smelling scent trail of WD40; 'a miracle in a can'.

long-tailed tit As I leave the canal there's a flypast by a few Long-tailed Tits. Their call would be more like 'a ping-pong ball from a door-chime'.


discarded tyre An e-mail arrives asking, in the context of local arts, what 'culture' means to me. This is what came to mind;

The word culture has an archaeological ring for me. What if a 'Time Team' of the future dug down through the strata of the early 21st century? I reckon that in West Yorkshire they'd hit a thick layer of discarded tyres. After the Mesolithic People and the Beaker Folk we'd be the 'Tyred Culture', or even the 'Over-tyred Culture'.

children's dam of tyres I believe artists have a responsibility to do more than just a bit of cultural window-dressing to brighten up our lives, though that's important enough. I think we should also be concerned with culture in a wider sense. 'Human culture' is just too parochial these days. Everything we do has an impact on the natural communities that we are a part page

Richard Bell
Richard Bell,
wildlife illustrator