Tuesday, November 22, 2022



The marsh in winter always has a special appeal to me, difficult to explain why exactly but this feeling is more intense during dawn and dusk. I expected to find a small party of Black Duck but none were seen although the deep croak of a Great Blue Heron resonated across the reedy expanse as one flew overhead. In the end, I still came home satisfied that I had seen something different and rewarding. It was this that I later translated into the painting shown here. Size is 11 x 7.5 inches, watercolor on Arches paper.

Tuesday, November 15, 2022



Some sketchbook bird studies that I didn't get around to posting. This female Boat-tailed Grackle was sketched when we drove down to South Carolina a while ago and seen while birdwatching along the coast. There was quite a large flock of them feeding on the leftovers from shucked oyster shells so I moved closer to get a better look at them. I was able to stand quite close by as birds dropped down to feed for awhile then moved on as others came in. I really enjoyed all the displaying, calling and posing between the males while the females were more concerned to quickly grab what they could. Interesting to note that the males were far less concerned about me than the females were.

This Horned Grebe in winter plumage was diving just off the access road next to Little Tom's Cove at Chincoteague NWR so I parked up for a while to get some sketching done. Fortunately it stayed around the same area for some time - enough to get most of this small study done.

The European Eagle Owl sketched here was being rehabilitated at Kadoori Farm in Hong Kong and was done in Jan, 1984 when I still lived there. Although there wasn't a lot of light, I did have quite a bit of time alone with the bird so along with the smaller sketches, I was able to do a slightly larger watercolor study of the bird as it sat looking at me.

Another quick (and unfinished) study of a female Red-flanked Bluetail also painted when I was in Hong Kong. Most of this one was done in the field while a little more detail was added when I got home. I still have a lot more sketchbook studies that I'll get around to posting once I have finished off my latest commission.

Monday, November 7, 2022



I enjoyed drawing the female Downy so much, I thought that I would do a male but this time in watercolor. Using some of the reference gathered at the lake a week or so ago, I carefully drew out then painted this bird using an underside view. I have some sketches done of this bird as well so will post them later. Size is 12 x 9 inches, watercolor on Grumbacher paper.

Monday, October 31, 2022



Walking around a nearby lake the other morning, we found this Downy close to the path, the first of 6 species of woodpeckers seen - Downy, Hairy, Red-bellied, Northern Flicker, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker and Pileated! Seeing as Downy Woodpeckers are usually more approachable than others, I was able to do some quick sketches while this female explored the lakeside trees and shrubs. Later I turned those sketches into this drawing when we got back home.

 Also present was this Great Blue Heron and looked amazing as it sat and preened in the morning sun. Since the bird didn't move much, I was able to do more in the way of sketches and studies so after I had finished the Downy drawing, I drew this one. I'll probably paint it in watercolor sometime soon as the light was perfect. Both these were done in my sketchbook, sizes 5 x 8 and 11 x 8 inches.

Sunday, October 23, 2022



On our walks around the harbor, we often saw this beautifully marked female Muscovy Duck. Being quite tame and used to people walking by, it would usually sit quietly on the waters edge where I could sketch and photograph it. There was also a male Mallard that the Muscovy followed around so perhaps they were a pair! A few times I saw the bird in flight and didn't realize how well they can fly as they are usually associated with tame or barnyard collections. This watercolor study was done on Grumbacher paper, size is 12 x 9 inches.

Monday, October 17, 2022



I usually jump across this stream on my way around the reserve but after snow covered the landscape, I hesitated as I didn't want to slip and get wet feet! This is a crossing I like to make as it leads to the old farmhouse which I love to see after a snowstorm. This time, I made it safely across and was rewarded with some wonderful views of the snow-covered farmhouse - a scene I still plan on painting. Size of this one is 11 x 7.5 inches, watercolor on Whatman paper.

Saturday, October 8, 2022



I found this feather in the middle of a field - the scene of an incident I saw in late March while staying on the Eastern Shore. It was quite damaged and I can clearly imagine just how this happened - plucked out during a squabble around a feeding site. It's obvious just where the eagles bill latched on about half way up the shaft and had cut through the barbs. The worn edges and tip show this to be an older secondary feather. My notes in my journal are as follows:

Way out in the middle of the bean field I see a small group of birds that through the telescope resolve themselves to be 2 Sub-adult Bald Eagles, 2 Turkey Vultures and a Black Vulture. The largest eagle is feeding on something that looks to be an animal leg, probably a deer, as I had recently seen one limping heavily. The other birds stand around looking on. Then the slightly smaller eagle (probably a male) walks around the larger eagle and launches an attack trying to snatch some food but is cleanly rebuffed! The female continues to feed while the Black Vulture then tries its luck – up to this point it has been quite active walking around and bullying the other two vultures which for now were just sitting patiently waiting. It moves closer to the feeding eagle crouching slightly but jumps back as the eagle lunges forward. The smaller eagle, senses its luck quickly (and rather nimbly) with one talon reaches out and grabs some of the carrion which looks to be another leg. Both eagles then feed for a while as the vultures look on, occasionally walking around and picking up a small scrap or two. Although being more active, the Black Vulture doesn’t find much either. Then the smaller eagle suddenly takes flight carrying the leg bone! It quickly gains height then disappears in a westerly direction and is gone. After the female has fed for a while longer, she too takes flight but I lose her against the backdrop of trees so don’t see which way she goes. The vultures are left with a few scraps which don’t keep them on the ground for long and they soon take wing then quickly fade into the dying light as evening comes in.