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 I would be anymore fulfilled than I have been these last three months.
Of course I recognise how lucky I am to have some beautiful and varied countryside so close to home. But I want this experience to change the way I watch wildlife for good. Of course I will go out again and visit favourite haunts for various species but nothing like as often as I did, and even when I do I don’t expect it to compete with really knowing a local patch. I have been very grateful for comments from readers far and wide. I always saw this as an opportunity to challenge myself artistically, but never expected to reach so many people. Thank you for sharing this time with me. For now I am going to carry on with daily notes and sketches. My aim is to complete a year of local patch sketching.
The colony remains quiet with no sign of those non breeding swifts. At least today has seen warmer temperatures and feeds for the chicks have been frequent. With very strong wind forecast for tomorrow they are wise to make the most of this day. The absence of younger prospecting birds has been felt widely this year. Friends with large colonies in many areas of the country have reported quiet skies save breeders coming and going discretely to their nests.
For those trying to attract swifts to nest it is a frustrating time. The younger birds they are trying to attract are simply not here. I still think they will return with warmer weather but for now swift watchers across the country just have to be patient and hope the weather changes.