Friday, 1 May 2009

A Beltane May-Day

This year is colder than last year. And how do I know this? Well because a year ago today, the hawthorn blossom was starting to flower quite nicely. And today on Beltane Day, I only found a single solitary Hawthorn flower out on the same tree I photographed last year.

See last year's posting here.

So there you go, must be a whole 2 days behind last years emergence. Proof if proof were needed it's getting colder!

It's been a good day today. Another trip to Sand Bay before work to photograph the driftwood shelters. Sadly as can be seen below, two have collapsed, but the other one stands for all to see. I wonder if anyone will rebuild them over the Bank Holiday weekend?

Bird wise Sand Bay lived up to it's reputation. I could have swung a pair of Swarovski binoculars about my person for half an hour without hitting a single bird. The skylarks though were singing well, and back at the car a single long tailed tit bobbled about which was a good end to the walk.

However walking into work later, my first screaming swift over Clifton (Bristol). We have a bit of an informal competition who can hear a swift first at work. And I was beaten by Sarah, a radio producer by 45 minutes...... can you believe it!!

But from that a mad poetry session followed, which began with this missive from myself I composed between the BBC Club and the office while fetching a cup of tea.

Mayday turns into summer
Clifton swifts scream overhead
So glad it wasn't a herring gull
Dropping fish onto my head

and from there I received 3 back from various people, but I'll leave the last piece of poetry to Edward Thomas, one of England's greatest poets (in my view at least)


How at once should I know,
When stretched in the harvest blue
I saw the swift's black bow,
That I would not have that view
Another day
Until next May
Again it is due?

The same year after year --
But with the swift alone.
With other things I but fear
That they will be over and done
And I only see
Them to know them gone.

And finally, it that wasn't all enough excitement on a Friday before a Bank Holiday, this week there was a fabulous Radio 4 Programme on the history of Wildlife TV. If you missed it, here's the link to the listen again site. The Balancing Bluebottle.


  1. Interesting to see you findings of blosom being out later this year - I must admit the evenings and nights in particular as significantly cooler at this time of year than last year - by mid April 08 we'd switched our heating off and we're still using it a bit in the evenings. Although I notice in general temperatures for next week are due to go up to 22 degrees on Thursday.... hurray! Having said that with all the rain and then warm weather the grass will continue to be a nightmare!

    Enjoy your weekend... Miranda

  2. Love your blog Andrew, never knew you were so poetic...
    Glad the birds are singing on Sand Point but here in central Bristol we seem to be down on numbers in Kingsdown, especially since a rental company chopped down some scrub by a house. Still, have noticed all the usuals plus goldfinch, willow warbler, coal tit in the last few days, so not bad.

  3. Great post Andrew and I loved the Edward Thomas poem, yours was....interesting! too ;-)

  4. Was the blackthorn blossom good near you? it was stunning in Dorset. Haven't seen the hawthorn yet (as still in USA). Wonderful poems, makes me think of the spotted flycatchers which turn up every year to nest in the box on the side of our house. I know summer is here when I see them.

    I've been working on a Kestrel nestbox webcam this week for Dorset Wildlife trust (see more at my blog). Please pass on the link to anyone you think will be interested - we've named them Chris & Kate (after the Springwatch presenters! - and because Chris is the Wildlife Trust vice-president). No eggs yet, but hopefully any day now. Very exciting.

    I'm looking for photos of kestrel, so if you have any, and don't mind them being used, please let me know! Thanks. Jane.

  5. I'm impressed with that driftwood shelter. Great piece of poetry you've written, lol. Got a laugh out of it. Hope you had a good Beltane.

  6. Hi Miranda, sounds like France was a lot warmer than the UK this weekend, started well but yesterday was chilly and a keen wind. It must be spring!!

    Thanks Mary, I'd not quite go as far as poetic :-) Sad to hear the loss of your trees nearby, too many trees being lost in cities.

    Shysongbird, Edward Thomas is often overlooked for the more popular pastoral poets, but I think he should be more widely recognised.

    Hi Jane, good to hear you're still keeping Florida's wildlife on it's toes. I don't have photos of Kestrel's I'm afraid, well apart from one which could be a speck of dust on the lens.

    Thanks Oldcrow, I hope you had a good Beltane day too.

  7. Hi Andrew,

    my first visit here, and you are right, it is sandy there.

    I still have not heard a skylark here this year, but I am pretty sure they are already back for the water pipits are really giving it great guns up in the mountains.

    Happy birding