I was lucky enough recently to see some Little Owls in the Yorkshire Wolds. One of them sat on an old, gnarled oak, well camouflaged. The only give-away its rounded silhouette in the fading light. It stared to the camera, unsure, before flying off. Watercolour and Pencil on Wacom tablet.
Mediterranean Gulls are back in their breeding ground at North Cave Wetlands in their striking summer plumage. One walked about the much more numerous Black-headed gulls in the colony, adopting this pose, neck straight and bill pointing down, as if to make sure everybody knows how great they look this time of year. The Black-headed gulls are smaller, and their heads, in comparison, are actually chocolate colour. The bill and leg colour in the Mediterranean gull is more intense red. A quick sketch on Wacom tablet with pencil and watercolour.
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.
This female Kestrel, perched on a hawthorn, watched the meadow below intently. At some point it took off and flew to the grass, probably having spotted a vole or wood mouse. A pencil and watercolour sketch on my wacom tablet.
A quick pencil sketch on my sketch book (not a digital one for a change) of a Tawny Owl. Last night at about 4:20, I heard a single lear 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.
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.