Singing Reed Bunting


In a visit to a local nature reserve I heard the first singing Reed Buntings of the year. It is not a song that will blow you away, more three notes repeated with not much musicality. If you look toward the reed patch, dry flower heads or bushes, the contrasting black cap and white collar, which is often fluffed up when singing, will reveal the singing bird. Watercolour and pencil on Wacom tablet.

The first hoot


A quick pencil sketch on my sketch book (not a digital one for a chance) of a Tawny Owl. Last night at about 4:20 a single, I heard a clear hoot from the lime tree just outside my window, the first one of the year. In the early months of the year the owls become more noticeable by the hooting of the males and the response of females ‘kweek!’ as they establish territories and start nesting.

Rattling mistle thrush


In mid November in a local park, I had the chance of watching a Mistle Thrush guarding a patch of small rowans laden with berries. The thrush would rattle to fend off a couple of blackbirds that dare land on its tree. Every time it called its rattling call, it would lean forward and flash its tail and wings, displaying its white underneath. It worked! After a while, it settled amidst its bright red bounty. When set to sketch the bird, I was thinking of one of my favourite wildlife artists, the late and inimitable John Busby, who could convey behaviour with a few pencil lines and watercolour washes, and who illustrated the book Birds and Berries by Barbara and David Snow.

Yellow-browed Warbler


This is my favourite lifer of 2016, the tiny, Goldcrest-like Yellow-browed warbler. I heard it and saw bits of it at Filey, but the following week I watched more at Spurn, while they fed atop some sycamores. It’s no coincidence that I’ve seen this warbler species, native of Siberia, without trying very hard, as it was an exceptional year for them: during the end of September and early October they were more common than other native warblers in the East Yorkshire coast. They were accompanied by an influx of Eastern rarities that followed persistent Easterly winds. As usual, sketch in my wacom Bamboo tablet.

Five Little Auks

five-little-auksnOn Monday, in a trip to the Flamborough Headland, I watched my first Little Auks. They are small, but solid little birds which breed in the High Arctic and winter in the North Sea. There were five of them, swimming into a south facing bay sheltered from the northerly wind and cold showers. I drew them in my Wacom tablet using pencil and watercolour and a simple two colour palette.