previous | home page | this month | e-mail me | next

Yellow Pimpernel

Richard Bell’s nature diary,  Friday,  12th June 2009

previous | home page | this month| e-mail me | next

red-breasted merganser, drake
yellow pimpernel
Derwentwater from the lakeside cafe
The Alhambra Cinema, Keswick

WE WALK by the River Greta along the old railway line then turn up to  the Castlerigg Stone Circle, returning through woods to the lakeside café. As we cross the Greta this bird (right), diving in the river, doesn’t look like the goosanders we see at home. I make a field sketch and looking it up when we get back home, discover that it’s a male red-breasted merganser, in the process of moulting its breeding season plumage and going into eclipse.


It’s the ‘buffy pale pink’ breast (like a chaffinch, says Barbara) which clearly identifies it as a drake merganser as the ‘black and white’ drake goosander never has that colour on his plumage.

Not the kind of drawing that I’d normally do of a bird. A field sketch is more diagrammatic; it’s surprising how soon you can forget the details of plumage.

Yellow Pimpernel, Lysimachia nemorum, grows in sunny spots at the edge of the woodland tracks and, here, amongst shrubs in the woodland garden of the lakeside café.

Night at the Alhambra

I never realised that Keswick had a cinema; The Alhambra, was built in 1913 and still lit by gas until the 1980s. Sitting upstairs in the circle reminds Barbara of her childhood, when her father was projectionist at the Horbury Co-operative Society Cinema. She was allowed to watch the Saturday matinee from the balcony, a special privilege as children weren’t allowed upstairs.


Her dad used to tell the tale (and I’ve probably mentioned it before) of when the two features were The Snows of Kilimanjaro and  The Sands of the Kalahari. One of the reels got mixed up; so one moment the plucky band were struggling through the burning heat of the desert, the next they were trekking through snow.


This evening’s performance is Night at the Museum 2. Keswick is a relaxing town for a cultural break!