Great Auk in summer plumage

Great AukI had thought about sketching a Great Auk for a while. The Great Auk, a flightless and much larger relative of the Razorbill which used to live in the North Atlantic has been extinct since the mid 19th¬†century. Stuffed specimens and paintings don’t convey the velvety look of the thick cover of feathers of living auks, which changes with the light from black to chocolate brown. Even the Natural History Museum stuffed specimen is standing on its feet, something auks don’t do, they usually sit with the whole leg in contact with the ground, to balance their body on legs which are positioned at the back of their body to help with swimming. I hope I have succeeded in giving my portrait a more lifelike feel. Pencil on the Bamboo Wacom tablet.

Great Black-backed Gull and Carrion Crow at seal pup carcass

Great Black backed gull and crow on seal carcass

I remembered today one of the best nature spectacles in the UK: the Grey Seal colony at Donna Nook. One of the things that struck me the most was the presence of Great Black-backed gulls feeding on placentas and dead seal pups. Crows were dwarfed by these awesome top predators, but joined in the feast for juicy tidbits.