I am used to watching Pink- footed Geese under huge Norfolk skies where some of them spend the winter. I see them every autumn in high flying ‘tick’ shaped skeins as they navigate their way down the East coast, fresh from their Icelandic breeding grounds. But last evening, creatively held back by two days of constant low cloud and drizzle, I heard pinkfeet from the comfort of the lounge. I ran outside and in the drizzly, still air it sounded as if they were about to alight in the garden. They were so low I could hear individual geese shaking the moisture off their plumage. There was a roar of displaced air as flocks, unseen, passed low overhead, seemingly disorientated and flying in different directions. The noise started at about 6.30pm and continued long enough to lull me to sleep around 11pm. All the while that magical call reminded me of days sketching with numb fingers in a Norfolk winter.
As the evening went on friends contacted me to tell of similar experiences in nearby Stonegrave, Wombleton, Kirbymoorside and Helmsley. So where were the geese going? It seems that a large movement of pinkfeet, perhaps from the Humber estuary or Norfolk, were starting to make their way North towards their breeding grounds in Iceland. But why so many hundreds if not thousands of birds found themselves disorientated over such a wide area is a mystery.
Great to be painting in the snow again today, above Rosedale. The dale looked dark in contrast to the brilliant snow covered moors. Occasional grouse kept me company whilst nearby a pair of Snow Buntings fed by the roadside. First landscape complete, I was off to Sandsend to paint the lively sea. It wasn’t much warmer here, 2C with a brisk Northerly wind. The cold raindrops, bordering on sleet, made a very interesting pattern on this hasty watercolour. A Waxwing arrived, calling gratefully as it came in from the sea. Later in the afternoon I found this gorgeous Waxwing right next to a busy road on my way to Sainsbury’s in Whitby. They are arriving thick and fast now, just wonderful!
I rarely travel far to see birds, but having spent a lot of time observing bird migration on the East coast of Yorkshire this October, the appearance of the first Siberian Accentor on the British Mainland seemed to me to be the culmination of what has been one of the most exciting autumns I can remember. Thus on Friday morning I found myself amongst hundreds of birders at Easington near Spurn Point. The bird approached to about ten feet at times, though I found myself climbing a tree to see over other birders. This gave me the space and time I needed to sketch. Whilst the pencil sketching was done at height the watercolour work was finished at ground level. A really beautiful subject.
It is always nice to find something different. Yesterday whilst sketching the seascape at Sandsend a small tern flew in from the sea from the East. Fortunately it settled on the beach near the beck outflow. It rested for several minutes before being disturbed by a dog, but I was able to sketch the bird suspecting it to be a White- winged Black Tern as opposed to the more common Black Tern. It stood for a while by some Sandwich Terns giving a good size comparison, before flying back out to sea. A very memorable sighting and amongst the rarest birds I have found. These were my initial sketches made during and just after see seeing the bird.
This year I will be showing work at Birdfair in the art marquee, stand 37. I very much look forward to showing at Birdfair and catching up with other artists. If you are going do come along for a chat. I will be showing these and many other new compositions.
A selection of photographs from my Swift nest box camera. The 2 eggs should hatch any day now. The young will fledge in about 6 week’s time. The photographs of Swifts screaming show the birds reacting to non breeding Swifts who are checking out potential nest sites. These younger birds are not yet mature enough to breed and are probably also practicing approach and landing.