Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Lackford, 29 Nov.

I have just spent half an hour typing out a post and then the webpage crashed.  I don't have time to waste typing it out all over again, so the sketches below will suffice.  Thanks to Pete Wilson and Dawn Balmer for identifying these geese at the weekend.  I count myself lucky they stayed long enough for me to get to see them!

Friday, 18 November 2011

Early November

I went to the coast last week to have a look at the 1st year male Desert Wheatear at Thornham Point.  Thankfully it was still there when I arrived.  As always a stunning bird.  But it was incredibly active - constantly active and feeding - sallying for insects and invertebrates along the strandline, which at high tide here covers a very wide area.  I stayed around for about 4 hours but only on a couple of occasions did it come close enough to get reasonable scope views.  This distance, combined with the continual south-easterly winds combined to stop me doing any paintings of it in the field.  Well that's my excuse anyway.  I also had a 38x56cm sheet of watercolour paper in a board with me, which just become a massive hindrance, catching the wind at my every turn.  I  had high expectations of being able to sit down in nice light, with few people around, the bird at close range and be able to produce a good series of paintings... how wrong was I?!  I know next time not to burden myself with such excesses - I'd be better off just taking one small pad to convey immediate quick impressions, and not have the hope of creating a perfect portrait in the field.  I'm always saying this - I should practice more of what I preach.  Anyway, below are a few sketches of the bird.  As well as the wheatear, there was also a small group of Snow Bunting, and a group of eleven Whooper Swans flew in off the North Sea - quite spectacular!
Stopped to buy some nice organic apples from a farm shop just near Holme on the way back.  Also, a dead Hare I passed on the way to Thornham finally stopped me.  The poor animal had been killed by road traffic 1-2 days earlier.  It's not often I find a dead Hare in relatively good condition but I decided to collect it to study and paint back home.  I kept it a further two days, in the porch at the back before finally laying it to rest in the back garden.  The results of my efforts are below - they are ok, but I still feel I could do better than this: were it not decomposing so fast I could have taken more time over it.  I have used some artitic licence here and carefully not painted any blood into the picture.  There's a question: should I have painted it as it was, truthful to reality, or censored it out like this?