Wheatear stance

Wheatears have a very distinctive upright stance, legs stretched and body almost vertical. While going through my Twitter feed, I came across a post by Rose Stephens, who had shared some photos of Stonechats and Wheatears at Wanstead Flats. One of the photos captured the upright stance beautifully and inspired me to sketch it in pencil on paper, and then finish it in ink for Inktober.

Inktober drawings

This October, I used Inktober as motivation to draw daily. I was not close to a drawing every day, but I managed a few drawings. All these are physical drawings, most on black sharpie on paper


Little Owl.


Singing Pied Flycatcher




Pair of Jackdaws.


Piping Oystercatchers.


Blackbird with cocked tail.



Whinchat on the tallest sunflowerInktober14





Raven overhead

Raven over Spurn based BethanRavens fascinate me, I have met them at Scotland, Wales, the Canaries, Mallorca, the Pyrenees. I am reading a lot about Ravens lately. The two fascinating books by Bernd Heinrich (Ravens in Winter and Mind of the Raven), Derek Ratcliffe’s monograph reporting on the decline and resurgence of Ravens, a Shadow Above, by Joe Shute…

Last year I witnessed indications of this recolonisation first hand when I found a pair of ravens on a valley in Staffordshire where I’ve been birdwatching for the last 20 years, my first sighting of this species there. While Red Kites and Buzzards have become regular breeders in East Yorkshire, the Raven remains a rare occasional bird. But last year too I saw my first raven in East Yorkshire, a couple of deep croaks made me look up while at Tophill Low and a wonderful Raven flew above. A photo of a Raven at Spurn by Bethan Clyne, only the 9th record there, inspired me to draw a sketch. Ink and pencil on Wacom tablet.

Pair of Magpies nest building

Magpie pair nest buildingAs I was arriving home today, one magpie carrying a stick was followed by another magpie also carrying a stick. It reminded me of the wonderful quoteby T.H. White in Helen MacDonald’s ‘H is for Hawk’:  ‘A magpie flies like a frying pan!’

It’s spring, and the nesting instinct is stirring in corvids. Earlier today, a Carrion Crow pulled large sticks from a plane tree and carried them to another one trying persistently to position them so that they would stay put in the very first start of a nest.

This year, the pair of magpies I saw in my street have moved tree and started a new nest on a tree on other side, not far from the old one. The old nest still stands proud, having miraculously survived the battery of storms we’ve had this winter. This is quite usual in Magpies, they will often build a new nest each season, sometimes on top of last years nest if trees are in short supply.