Sunday, March 17, 2019


At the upper lake in the nearby reserve, Ring-necked ducks can be seen almost all winter. When the lakes freeze over (which usually only lasts a few days or so) they go elsewhere - probably to a much larger lake a few miles away where there is always open water. I think the draw of this lake is that there always seems to be waterweed on the bottom so attracts diving ducks such as these. We also get mergansers and these 'sawbills' feed on the fish although I have no idea how well these lakes are stocked. But I decided to concentrate on the ring-necks this time.

Through my scope, the iridescence on the head is more obvious and can be seen at its fullest when the sun shines directly on the bird. In shade or cloudy conditions, this feature is not so apparent but can still be seen. I sat with the sun almost directly behind me so as to make the most of the iridescence - it seemed that the head showed mostly bluish purple with perhaps a little green on the crown. The 'ring' around its neck is barely seen even in good light and is a slightly more reddish brown. There were males and females present but I only concentrated on the males trying to get a good 'jizz' in between dives (where the tail is usually on the surface of the water). When resting, the tail sticks slightly upwards.

The sketches shown here are how my color studies usually start off and if I think I have a good enough likeness, I can start adding some watercolor washes etc. It usually takes a few goes to get more familiar with the shapes and character of each bird before I start to feel comfortable drawing them. As always, more practice is the key. All the above work done in my sketchbook - watercolor and graphite.


John Holmes said...

I think the subtle rendering of the iridescence is a compelling feature of this one.

John Holmes said...

Oh, and the "click all images. with fire hydrants" verifier is a whole new challenge !