An epic rescue (that inspired a limited edition print!)

Magnolia tree in full bloom with water sun catching the edges of a few of the petals and lighting them up like lamps.

Much excitement here today. The male* wood pigeon which had been stuck behind the fire for a few days is freeeeee!

Once the engineer had turned off the gas and prized the fire out of the grate, I suggested I get under a sheet in case the bird flew, and the engineer (who was scared of birds, bless him) was on sheet duty. He held the sheet over the fireplace to contain it like a champ! I suspect because the bird was used to the sound of my voice it walked out of the chimney towards me and the light.

I grabbed it before it had a chance to flap, checked it over, took it outside and gently put it down on the grass. It wobbled off towards the end of the lawn then flew up into the neighbours’ magnolia and started to preen and sing, *hence I know it is a male woodie!

Maybe not the most orthodox rescue but a happy result in the end.

PS Pic at the top of the post is from the other day, I was too busy rescuing the pigeon to grab my phone and document it, so you’ll have to imagine him singing and preening!

PPS Once I’d released the woodie, he hung around for a few days and I was worried that his mate had been snapped up by another male. I could tell it was him because of the pattern of the white band on his neck. Luckily, a few days later I saw that his story had a very happy ending as he had found a mate. Seeing the two of them billing and cooing inspired me to make another print!

Happy Easter 2021!

A human-made nest constructed of birch and alder twigs, scraps of material, and yarn. Seven tiny, palest blue, crocheted eggs sit in the cup.

Happy Easter! And if you’re really not feeling it this year, at least you can console yourself with chocolate for breakfast.

A couple of years ago I developed a pattern for a simple crocheted little round bird.

Every time I wanted to make another one, I’d pop into the local haberdashery to grab another ball of yarn and show them the latest addition to the brood.

One day they asked if I would let them put my flock of Little Round Birds in the window for Easter.

As I was saying, “Yes, please, that would be lovely,” without even thinking I added, “... and my friend Rob could make some nests and we could add in some bits of fabric and yarn from the shop, and I can crochet some eggs to put in them.”

Just like that, quick as a flash the idea popped into my head and a spring collaboration was born!

A human-made nest constructed of birch twigs, scraps of material, and yarn. Five small pale brown crocheted eggs sit in the cup.

So, here are the teeny eggs in the beautiful nests Rob made. It took a little while to come up with a pattern for the three different sizes of eggs because I wanted them to be as close to life-size as I could get them.

A human-made nest constructed of birch and alder twigs, scraps of material, and yarn. Five tiny, bright blue, crocheted eggs sit in the cup.

It turns out that the plural noun for Little Round Birds is a Rainbow! 🌈

Sixteen little ground crocheted birds arranged in a bow shape and arranged in rainbow colour order from darkest blue to palest pink. Beneath the arc are five “special edition” little round crocheted birds, a blackbird, a ring-necked parakeet, a hyacinth macaw, a robin, and a ptarmigan in winter plumage

The Making of… Louise Barr, Printmaker

Snowdrops growing through a carpet of beech leaves. The flowers are backlit by low hazy sun.

I am an artist printmaker specialising in animals and the natural world. As a child, I spent a lot of time out in the countryside watching the ever-changing cast of characters who appeared as the seasons changed.

Spring meant observing hedgerows very closely: Snowdrops' nodding heads beneath meant Daffodils and longer days were on the way. Once the Blackthorn had flowered on bare branches; next came the Hawthorn, but only once its "cuckoo's bread and cheese" leaves had opened. These ancient hedgerows were soon filled with the cacophony of Sparrows conversing at the top of their voices. Spring also meant the arrival of lambs in the ancient orchard next to the house. One memorable year, a "sock lamb" hand-reared by the farmer took a shine to Louise and would wait for her to arrive home from school. They would solemnly eat a snack of toast and marmalade together while she told him about her day. (She's never been able to eat lamb since...!) Primroses appearing in the ancient hedges on dog walks were cause for great celebration, there's just something about the sight of a Primrose... This celebration was matched only by the joyous sight—and smell—of a Bluebell wood under a blue sky filled with sun and clouds scudding in the wind. The seasons were on the turn.

A close-up of Hawthorn flowers and buds. The flowers are in strong full sun coming from above and the pink pollen-covered anthers are casting shadows on the white petals.

Summer started with birdsong, the arrival of Cuckoos and Chiffchaffs both with their wonderfully easy to remember songs, next came the Dog Roses, the House Martins and finally it was always a magical, heart-filling day when the first "Scree! Scree! Scree!" heralded the arrival of the Swifts returning from their African winter holiday. Swifts meant long summer holidays were nigh! These were largely spent outdoors finding Foxgloves, Butterflies, Moths, Hedgehogs and, if you were really lucky, a mother with her hoglets, trailing behind her in a straggly line in the dusk. Bats feasting in the warmer air were another treat as the evenings stretched ever later and Barn Owls flickered in and out of vision in the gloaming. Picnics reached by tractor, fishing for Minnows with jam jars and watching Bees feast on Teasels.

A willow tree backlit by early morning autumn sun. The tree stands next to a river which reflects the cloudy sunrise through a slight haze over the surface of the water.

Autumn covered the land gently, softly, almost imperceptibly. As the days began to shorten, the Swifts gathered in huge numbers, their agile flight and daredevil insect chases taking on a new urgency, "We must leave, the nights are chilling, the warm winds of Africa are calling us, but we will be back." And just like that, one day they would be gone. The wistful regret at their leaving would soon be forgotten, though, because the Blackberries were ripe and so we joined the birds, Badgers, Foxes and Harvest Mice in their purple-stained annual feast. The Ivy flowers in the hedgerows were abuzz with the insects while the Robins began their songs again to re-establish their winter territories. Conkers, much-prized for playground battles, mixed with beech mast and acorns as the leaves changed colour, turning the world yellow, orange and red. Fields filled with straw bales that threw ever-longer shadows and Fireworks Night meant building a bonfire as the afternoon turned to dark thanks to the clocks going back.

Snowdrops growing through a carpet of beech leaves. The flowers are backlit by low hazy sun.

And soon enough, the land was covered not in autumnal dew, but ground frost that turned the grass into a million tiny diamonds on a crisp sunny morning. Hoare frost was even better, ice-dusting the whole landscape into a wonderland that tinkled in a gentle breeze. Redwings arrived and were confused with Fieldfares, and while they feasted on the Rowan berries and windfall apples, Long-Tailed Tits bustled about in their troupes, peeping their excitement at some exciting find in the garden. Just as winter felt it would go on forever, the evenings started a little later and mornings a little earlier. Starlings flocked together, resident birds joining with winter migrants in ever larger murmurations, their swirling, tumbling, seething mass a bedtime story for birds and little birders alike.

And so the seasons turned again. And again.