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April Sketchbook: Days 15 to 21

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Sunday 23 April 2017

April Sketchbook: Days 15 to 21

More sketches from my woodland route.


15th April: a young oak twig with oak flowers Quercus sp and the very strange and sinister shoots of the black bryony Discorea communis. In the spring their long swaying heads emerge from the ground like searching snakes. They wave about until they can find something to support them, sometimes each other, and then continue skywards unfolding handsome spear shaped leaves as they go. They drape themselves over trees and shrubs have small flowers but beautiful strands of red berries in the autumn.
!6th April: A fallen larch Latrix decidua twig with cone. The larch branches are too high for me to reach in the wood. They tower up into the sky on spindly trunks, their main leafy branches held right at the top in the light. The larch flowers are red…pretty…and develop into the rosette like cones.
And below the larch a single elder leaf. Sambucus niger


17th April: Field maple Acer campestre spring with small flowers and the start of those twin seed pods and charming little trotty wagtail Motacilla alba, ever present along the waters edge.
18th April: Lichen possibly Hypogymnia physodes blown off a tree in the wood in the recent strong winds. It’s curiously spiky and a lovely faded grey green. Some old sycamore Acer pseudoplatanus keys from a last season, fallen, spray.

19th April:  Elephant Grass. Miscanthus sp The elephant grass which grows in a large field by the reservoir has just been harvested. The harvester scatters bit of straw and grass heads along the road. It’s curious stuff with these very attractive fluffy seedhead.
20th April: Spring blues and pinks: bluebell, ground ivy, dog violet, red dead nettle, campion.


21st April: Deconstructed dead mole Talpa europa. Back in 2015 I had found a very smelly dead mole on the track in the wood and made some sketches.

I then buried it in the garden in a pierced plastic tub in the hopes that worms and bugs would clean it up for me and leave a pristine skeleton. However when I unearthed it after two years it was just a slimy mass of black fur and many tiny bones all mixed together. Ah well. Maybe the compost heap next time.

But it was worth digging a few out and I found a couple of jaw bones and some ribs and leg bones but the strangest I discovered are the 2 huge, (relatively  speaking) criss-cross shaped humerous bones from the front legs. See mid left on the sketch. Big strong digging bones. Very interesting!


And I am past the middle staples in the sketchbook now!

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Blogger Sharon Williamson said...

Love the mole sketches, and all the lovely observations from your woodland route. Re skeletons, I find that putting the dead thing under a heavy upturned terracotta plant pot, under some shrubs, and leaving it for a few months is a good ploy. You might not recover the small bones but I've found that you can usually retrieve a clean skull.

24 April 2017 at 22:18  
Blogger sharp green pencil said...

Hi Sharon, sorry for late reply but I just wanted to say thanks and what a GREAT idea that is! I am definitely going to try it. I just cant quite bring myself to boil things up yet! You sound like a bit of an expert on these things!

Thanks too for your kind words about the mole. I am very fond of moles. How they manage to dig through our heavy clay soil is a wonder.They are fascinating little creatures.

7 May 2017 at 19:33  

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