Friday, 9 November 2012

17th October - a great storm

When I left the Scillonian Club last night it was raining stair-rods!  Fortunately I had my full waterproofs, as well as an umbrella so I was well protected.  Nevertheless there was no let up in the rain all the way back to my tent.  Then at quarter past midnight the rain suddenly stopped and the wind suddenly picked  up and continued unabated with 60-70mph gusts all night.  After an initial plan to seawatch, I bumped into birders who'd been there since first light and who'd had very little.  I then bumped into Spider again, so decided to bird the amazingly sheltered eastern side of the Garrison.  I remember last year when we did this walk he relocated a Northern Oriole!
Later I wound up at Porth Hellick again, enjoying my best ever views of Ring-necked Ducks - I could have spent hours and hours painting these superb birds.  So many great angles, in different poses and different lights - what amazing birds!  My sketches hardly do them justice, but I'm pleased with the painting of the 1st year male bird, I have captured the light and the texture of its plumage quite well.  I was all set to plunge into painting the equally attractive female RNDs, when... arrghhh news comes through that a Woodcock has been found feeding in a field near Maypole.  A diffiicult decision - stay or go?  I decided on go, Woodcock are one of my favourite birds and I've yet to paint one live on Scilly.  From past experience they can be happily feeding a safe distance from being flushed by photographers, and you can get to study all the vermiculations and markings through the scope.  The tangles of surrounding weeds usually lend themselves to great compostions too, so I was hoping for a visual delight.  When I arrived, the bird was still there but extremely hard to see, being tucked away in furrows most of the time.  As it got darker, the bird became more active, and started feeding in the open.  The photographers were complaining about poor light levels, so they were leaving.  After a few pencil lines I pitched straight into a watercolour, knowing I didn't have long either.  It was fully dark by the time I left at 19.10 hrs.

Notice in the male RND paint sketch that there is a really annoying dark fleck in the bird's yellow iris just below the pupil.  This was caused by a minute drop of dark paint landing on the still-wet paint of the bird's iris, while I was working on it.  There was nothing I could do to remove it as it would have mucked up the whole of the bird's iris so I just had to leave it.  I suppose I could photoshop it out of the scanned version, but it is there on the original.

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