Tufted Duck Sleepover

What a life, sleeping all day! The Tufties on my local lake at Pugneys Country Park spend most of the day dozing, so I have to sketch them like that.
They could sleep for England but I know of a duck that can beat them in the sleep stakes.

The Pochard can sleep anytime, anywhere. This one was one of the rarities, awake!

Sketching about

The Bittern spent a while up the reeds looking for the other one present. It's amazing how he/she can climb up them.

The Ringed Plover are back from overwintering in warmer climes. Nice to see them.

The swans are getting very frisky with each other. The male really goes for it.

There have been a dozen Redshank overwintering this year and they must have has a hard time with all the dogs in the area being walked around the Calder Wetlands where they like to be.

What a Load of Bull

Lots of Bullfinch around at the moment. My local lot seem to be interested only in stripping the buds off Willow branches. Stunning birds they are too. This one was sketched as it sat with its mate near the hide.

Grebes Getting it On

The Great Crested Grebes are doing their thing. Did a couple of sketches .


On my third sketchbook of the year so far!!! I hate drawing in gloves but it is a necessity at the moment. Roll on Spring.
My local country park is getting a bit of my attention at present. The reserve lake has an island or, two, a few rafts, some posts hammered into the lake bed and a lot of Phragmites reed and shedloads of bird disturbing, smelly, dirty dog owners and their pooches. Commercial dog walkers use the site and I counted 3 vans full of their charges today.

The Coot cannot get on with each other. They are having a really violent time at the moment.

At least I can get into the hide and get myself tucked away in relative peace and quiet.

Painting kit

Thought you might like to see the vast array of kit I use to sketch birds. An old metal palette filled with colour from tubes. A few old brushes, piece of rag and a water bottle. This, alongside my sketchbook, pencil and scope is all I need. Makes a change from carrying a rucksack full of heavy photo gear.

This lapwing was sketched after all its 100+ mates had flown off. It must have been either fast asleep or a bit under the weather as it remained on its own most of the afternoon. Tried to get an idea of the iridescence of the plumage with the purples and greens in the feathers. Hard to do with watercolour. It sat on a raft entirely oblivious to me and anything else.

A Day In the Freezer

Another cold, cold day in the hide. The Ring-necked Duck must have had a hard night as it spent most of the morning asleep in the Pochard flock, but keeping a keen eye on the females from time to time. It has been displaying to the female Pochard with both the neck stretch and head back display. The male Pochard do not like it at all!

There are at least 20 Cormorants on the lake daily. The 'net tells me that they eat about 1lb of fish per day. That's 140lb per week or 7280lb of fish per year!!! No wonder fishermen are not keen on these skilled hunters.

Sketching in the cold is hard work but I love the direct contact with the subject and sketching through the telescope in real time. The scope really pulls you into the bird's world and you feel connected somehow. I love it but it is so hard. Practice does not make parfect but helps, as does a copious supply of sketchbooks.

Here's a pic of one eating a Pike it had caught in the lake. It took a while to get the fish down but the bird managed it.