bird behaviour, Sketchbook, Sketching outside

White- winged Black Tern at Sandsend, Whitby


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.



bird behaviour, Sketchbook

Spotted Flycatcher

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Lovely views of a Spotted Flycatcher yesterday. How is it that Spotted Flycatchers have become so scarce? Every park, churchyard and large garden used to have a pair. They have a subtle beauty, with soft expression and elegant shape and for their graceful aerial sorties to catch flying insects. They cost me a grade or two in my exams, because rather than revise I would gaze for hours at the pair that used our open fronted nest box. I was transported today, back to my early days of birding when using my old Swift binoculars I would sketch and note their every move as they shared our garden in Summer.

bird behaviour, Sketchbook

Hawfinch at St Hilda’s church, Ampleforth

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Lovely to have a Hawfinch near to home again. I hope to spend much more time with this charismatic bird over the next few weeks. When I sketch a Hawfinch it feels like drawing a cartoon bird with its large head, huge beak and beady eye. The head is packed with muscle which operates the beak to crush hard seeds and fruit stones such as cherry to extract the kernels.

bird behaviour, Sketchbook

Coal tits

Coal Tit- pencil sketch in sketchbook
Coal Tit- pencil sketch in sketchbook

Coal tits are busy hoarding sunflower seeds from the feeders today. The huge crop of beech mast on local trees has meant fewer have visited us so far this autumn. They are very tame but probably lowest in the pecking order, meaning they have to seize the moment to land and grab a seed.

bird behaviour, Sketchbook

Iceland Gull- Sandsend, Whitby

A memorable day on the east coast started in Whitby. A walk along the pier produced at least 17 purple sandpipers, a pair of guillemots and a few turnstones. Runswick Bay held a single red-throated diver which fed very close to the lifeboat station. As I descended into Sandsend an Iceland gull literally flew in front of the car. I pulled into the car park and enjoyed watching it for at least half an hour. I was stuck by it’s soft pale plumage especially so when seen against the dark cliffs. It settled on the beach by the car park and also rested in the water, in between giving me a few spectacular low passes. A very attractive gull with a distinct gentle expression which I aimed to capture in my sketches.