The Mai Po Nature Reserve in the north of Hong Kong on the border with China is a very important wintering place for many rare and endangered birds and is a place that I love to visit. There are 3 main hides that can be accessed via the boardwalk and all look out over the mudflats of Deep Bay. The rising tide brings many birds close to the hides and this becomes the perfect opportunity to study ducks, waders and gull at close quarters. For me it is the chance to observe, to draw and to paint birds that I would not be able to do otherwise.
Although I prefer to paint directly from the subject, this is not always possible but starting from a brief sketch in my sketchbook, a painting can later be recreated in the studio. My initial drawing of this bird was transferred to a small piece of watercolor paper then added to as necessary. A poor and distant photo helped with some of the details but for the main shape I referred to my sketches. When I was happy with the overall shape of the bird, a wash of blue was added to the background followed with some darker areas while the paper was still damp. I then loosely indicated some of the markings of the avocet then let the paper dry.