Sketching birds

Hi there, sorry it’s been a while. I’ve been on holiday on  a little island off the west coast of Wales where we didn’t have a lot of Internet, so i waited till we got back to write my blog. Now there’s quite a lot to catch up on! Firstly though, sketching. 

Mark and i went over to Skomer to help digitise their hand written bird logs. This will make it a lot easier for them to analyse trends in birds over the years. Essentially our job was data entry into an Excel spreadsheet, but it was interesting to see what birds the island has had. We inputted data for 1997,1974, 1945, and 1962-4.

In our free time we could wander the island, and we got to see cool birds and wildlife. The island is really important for breeding puffins, and manx shearwater, and it was a priviledge to be allowed to take part in the whole island puffin count on our last day there (there were over 25,000,which is the island’s biggest count so far). Here are a couple of photos to give you an idea :

The view from our office and our kitchen
Puffin count
A manx shearwater taken at night with red light

As planned I took my sketching stuff with me and was more pleased with some results than others. But regardless of the outcome I loved the process of sitting and really looking at the birds and animals. It’s tricky to draw them as they don’t sit still, so you have to observe and remember details, often from more than one subject. Here are my attempts:

Generally my pictures seemed to get worse as the week went on! Adding colour to the oystercatcher didn’t work but maybe because my coloured pencils weren’t very sharp, also the rabbit’s head went totally the wrong shape, even though I focused on it. But never mind, I’m pleased with my puffin and the fulmars.

But i realised i’d been too much of a chicken to sketch in pen. I’m not sure why, as it’s not as if I had a rubber to get rid of mistakes in pencil, but somehow I just wasn’t sure I could use the pen effectively. So today when I had a little outing to Slimbridge I decided to brave it, and i sketched a flamingo in pen. Don’t be deceived by the sleeping pose… It moved after a few minutes of my sketching (and no other flamingoes had their neck in exactly the same shape!) and also another flamingo came and stood in front of it for a while. Plus I was using my binoculars to see it properly, which makes sketching even harder! 

It’s still fun though, and a while back my lovely sister gave me a really pretty recycled bag. Now I use it to keep my sketching stuff in, which means I can bring it all with me to different places a bit more easily. 


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