Wild West Yorkshire nature diary

Floodlight Rooks

Wednesday 1st March 2000

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cumulus shower cloud A SHEEP-SHAPED cumulus hangs above the valley, modelled in a soft rosy side-light. It looks as calm and classical as a cloud in a Piero della Francesca painting; an ideal accompaniment for cherubs and annunciations.

But turn to the east and the mood changes; the shredded curtains of a shower cloud loom large, like the epic storm in Turner's Hannibal Crossing the Alps, a romantic painting on a heroic scale. By the way, the inspiration for this painting came from a storm over Otley Chevin, west Yorkshire.

rooks on the floodlight tower rook Rooks gather on one of the floodlights of the marshalling yards while one 'caws' from a pylon nearby. It's voice isn't as deep as that of the Carrion Crows, a pair of which fly past across the fields.

The colour intensifies as the sun sets, picking out the cotton wool texture of the underside of a cloud above the yards. It grows and splits into holes as it turns luminous russet gold. A passing aircraft streaks a brilliant trail behind it. kestrel and sparrowhawkThen, within minutes, the colour drains away, the cloud disperses across the sky and the show is over for another night.

Silhouetted against the glow of the sky, what I take to be a Kestrel sees off a larger Sparrowhawk (but it could be a pair, the female tends to be bigger than the male). The kestrel returns to a large twiggy nest in a lofty poplar.

canal bridge The canal bridge with a shape not unlike Monet's paintings of his Japanese bridge is silhouetted in the approaching darkness, so that it looks more like a Whistler nocturne.

Richard Bell
Richard Bell,
wildlife illustrator

E-mail; 'richard@daelnet.co.uk'

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