Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Black Gouse studies - May 2010

The following pages are a few extracts from recent fieldwork I have been undertaking studying Black Grouse in northern England. This has involved some ridiculously eary starts, getting up and in the car for just after 2am, to ensure I was ready in the hide (you can just see part of it below) by 3am at the latest, soon after which the grouse could be heard echoing their distinctive bubbling calls on the lek.

I've spent many hours over the last few weeks watching the birds dispaly on one of their traditional lekking arenas, an have been captivated by both the birds themselves, and the changing light from the near gloom of a pre-dawn moorland, to the brightly lit arena full of golds and green just a few hours later. Most of the activity had subsided well before 7am, with the birds dispersing from the arena to preen and rest before flying off to their prefered feeding pastures, leaving me to trudge back to the car, exhausted but compltely exhilarated for a 'late' breakfast at around 8am!

Above - you can see my easel, sketchbook and the handle of my tripod in the photo here. The sketchbook page which was only partially completed when I took this photo, can be seen in its finished form below. The mobile phone in the photo might make you think there was a danger of disturbing the birds, but this was not the case. Although there was no reception in the area (there never is in the middle of nowhere, where often the best birds are to be found!), it was on silent mode as an added precaution, and simply enabled me to keep a track of the time.

Male grouse (below). These studies were made when most of the main activity had died down, and the birds had settled down to rest or feed leisurely near the main lekking site.

This sketch, (above), was made just before 5am - the soft, pastel tones of the early morning were something I was trying to capture.


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Woodcock studies - May 2010

I was amazed to find this woodcock, on the ground in broad daylight (about 6:20 pm) at the edge of a small marsh where I'd been watching the lapwing chicks feeding. The 'marsh' itself was really only a large boggy field covered by marsh marigold around the centre, with rushes and sedges towrads the northern edge. Having wbeen watching snipe displaying over the area and feeding, it was fantastic to be able to see this close relative, and be able to really study the distinctive differences. The woodcock such a steep forehead, larger eye (appearing at times to tbe very close to the top of the head), a bulbous, almost distorted lookign face (head on) and cleaner, richer lines.

I was also able to watch it feeding, a distinctive bobbing/walking technique, though because of its low down body posture, I kept loosing sight of it amongst the marsh plants and grasses. The colour sketch directly below is not very accurate, but I wanted to get some quick colour notes onto the page to support a couple of reference video I managed to digiscope. I'm really pleased with a couple of the simple sketches on the lower page, where I felt I've manage to successfully capture the jizz of the bird's head/face.

Lapwings & marsh studies - May 2010

A couple of sketchbook extracts from a recent field trip. The painted study on the top page shows a small pool, bordered by marsh marigolds, on which a couple of lapwing chicks were feeding.

Lapwing - studies of adult on the nest and feeding.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Peregrine Falcon
Sketches from Warton Crag, 5th May 2010

New puppy!
This is him at nine weeks old, thought I should give him the limelight (see blog entry below)

Horse portait, acrylic on board

This recent painting was produced for the owner of a local livery yard, in exchange for a new Springer puppy from the latest litter their dog had early in the year.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Peregrine sketches, April 2010

Warton Crag, nr Carnforth, Lancs

This well known site has a fully operational watch which is manned by volunteers during the breeding season, to help ensure the successful fledging of the young from this site. I spent my first shift there last week, and here are a few sketches I made of the birds.

This was the first time I've really had the chance to study Peregrines up close in the wild, so it was a great opportunity to get to know the birds a little better. Hopefully my drawings will improve as I spend more time at the site.