Wednesday, 18 May 2011

May 16th-18th: the Lakes

Some good views of Hobbies.  So many different angles, endless variety of shapes... I could draw them all day.

Monday, 16 May 2011

14th May: Cley

Up at 02.30 hrs, left house 03.05 and reached Avocet Hide by 04.20.  There were already 7 people in there when I arrived - I was relieved to have a space as I thought there might be a packed audience awaiting the hoped -for performance of a displaying Great Snipe reported from here in previous days.  Alas it was all to no avail - no sight or sound of this wonderful bird: it would have been so incredible had it been there.  Not much compensation but there were plenty of other birds to look at whilst scanning and searching for the Great Snipe.  Some amazing colours in the early morning light which I've tried to capture above.  The Lesser Yellowlegs was sharing a distant pool with at least 2 Wood Sandpipers and later a Greenshank (and what was probably a Temminck's Stint). I expected the Great Snipe to still be around somewhere in the area; indeed it is - it was heard displaying again for 3 minutes after dark this evening!  I have to say I think this situation is going to drag on for weeks...

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Back to the patch

10th May: Lakenheath

After a late return from Minsmere last night, it was up and 5am and over to Lakenheath before work in the hope of seeing a White Stork reported on Hockwold Washes yesterday evening.  Unfortunately no sign after a good search.  Then my attention was diverted by this showy Grasshopper Warbler singing from a Sallow (good through the telescope).

May 9th: AUDOUIN'S GULL!!!

Decided to take half a day off and try for the Audouin's Gull at Minsmere.  Stuck in slow-moving traffic on winding roads I'd given up hope of seeing it.  Indeed when I arrived it had flown off 20 minutes earlier...
Thankfully it reappeared over an hour later and showed for 20-25 minutes on the south scrape before flying off south over the Levels, and then toward the sea, not to be seen again.  I decided to stay on until dark in case it re-appeared, but alas no sign.  But there was still plenty to see - did these paint sketches of a Grey Plover and Black-headed Gulls in the evening light.  Common birds are just as exciting as rare ones (although I suppose I wouldn't be feeling that way if I'd missed the Audouin's!).

Monday, 9 May 2011

May 8th: COLLARED FLY!!!

Thrilled to bits to see this stunning male Collared Flycatcher on the approach road at Holme!  And especially given that it had disappeared half an hour before we arrived, and it was another 45 minutes before it reappeared.  I spent the time franticly checking all the nearby trees and bushes in case it had moved, as is so often the way with this species.  There is just so much suitable habitat and potential cover in the area it could easily have slipped away, but thankfully it hadn't.  When it did show, I felt huge pressure to really focus and concentrate on it - it was satisfying to come away with some pictures that attempt to do justice to this bird. I was in a bit of a panic initially when it showed again and mislaid my pencil; hence the first sketches were done in biro, and I added the paint to these lines in the field.  I was very jammy in happening to be in Dorset on fieldwork in 2009 so I was able to go and see the Portland bird on four consecutive days after I'd finished work; they are such an amazing bird, and it is always good to see another.  Who needs Fair Isle now we have one in Norfolk?!
Many thanks to Andy Clements for letting me get the first glimpse of this bird through his scope.
A host of other interesting birds in the vicinity too - Nightingale, Blackcap, Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat, Cetti's Warbler, plus Redshank, Shelduck and Black-headed Gulls flying over.  The colours amazing in the evening light - could have done more paintings had there been more time...

Lakes again...

Thanks to Iain Downie, BTO's resident arachnologist for spotting the top spider, Marpissa muscosa, below...
A distinctive beast, and not one I recall ever having seen before.

North Norfolk, April 24

I had planned to spend the entire day out painting a flock of Dotterel near Choseley.  I made a reasonable start on this project (see above paintings).  These birds were very distant though and it was frustrating having birders turning up from West Runton having seen a fine male Citrine Wagtail found there this morning.  What should I do?  Stay on and paint, or cave in and go?  I opted for the latter option.  I will have to paint some Dotterel another day...
I arrived at West Runton late in the day, and four minutes after arriving the wagtail flew off west, never to be seen again.  Lucky I was switched on and focussed, and not complacent in assuming the bird would stay put. Fortunately it was just long enough to get some accurate lines down in my sketchbook
Here's the sketches made at the time; the watercolour was added while I was on location too.

Later I added a little more colour to the sketch, finishing what I didn't have time to do in the field...

Local birding - Lakes and Livermere

Welney, and then Lakenheath


Local stuff / Fieldwork in Lincs

Dotterel at Waxham

Nunnery Lakes

Oxon, Bucks


Managed to see this bird just before work.  Unfortunately no time to do real justice to it in a nice detailed painting.


Painted from a hide at Lackford.  So many gulls here - I could spend days painting them!

More bits from the Lakes

Done in biro, A6 size.

Rough-leg, 27 February.

This bird was rather distant and although it definitely looked like a classic Rough-leg, I didn't actually see the pale base to the tail, nor get a view of it in flight which would have clinched it for me.  Really cold at the time.  Frustarting not to have had better views.