Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Barnacle Geese and Merlin, Ynys Hir

Mild and overcast, I found the Barnacles again in front of the saltings hide but already moving further off. I wanted to get close in amongst the flock, but the constant flow of moving birds makes it hard to find a reference to start drawing from. Eventually I caught sight of a bird drinking from a hidden creek and knowing that it would take a few more gulps and so repeating the pose I began to draw. More joined in and the birds behind began to build up as they took turns to drink or cross the obstacle. Such moments when events work in my favour allows for free and energetic drawing, but it doesn't happen everyday.

My second strike of luck that day was finding a Merlin perched at the back of the hide towards twilight, allowing me to paint it directly for at least 15 minutes. It looked like an adult female.

Friday, 21 January 2011

Barnacle Geese, Spring Tide Ice and Lapwings

Spring high tide on the Dyfi is around 08.30, in winter this means the retreating water freezes, leaving thin sheets of ice balancing on the saltmarsh.
Arriving this morning after the springs, the ice had already broken up into large angular shards which buckled in the sun and collapsed under the feet of grazing barnacle and Canada geese. The main barnacle flock had already moved to the freshly exposed river bank in the distance but a few breakaway groups grazed for a while amongst the ice close to where I sat, leading me to imagine in comparison, the arctic tundra where they spend the breeding season.

This evening the Clettwr lapwings were'nt in such huge numbers as previously, however through the binoculars I could see steady streams of birds flying to roost against the creeping shadows of the distant hills.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Barnacle Geese, Ynys Hir

Subzero this afternoon but good light, pouring up the dyfi from the sea. This was the first time I have seen the Barnacle geese here in any large number, about 250 touched down as I walked towards the breakwater. They soon split into smaller groups but moved mainly in the same direction grazing frantically and rarely still. For a few minutes the late winter sun floods the estuary with golden light each evening.
Looking through the scope brought the far bank of the river with the shale railway embankment nearer making for a quite interesting landscape along with the dry creeks breaking up the overpowering (in paint) green.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Lapwings, Clettwr

Large numbers of Lapwing (2500 on last RSPB count) as well as teal, dunlin and redshank on the flooded land beyond the far bank of the Clettwr. Buzzards and a quad bike put the birds up, filling the air with birds recognisable by the formations and flight patterns each species make. Lapwings tend to fly the highest, forming long lines that gradually clump together as they climb higher and higher; speedy dunlin knit between them in a tight swarming orb and the teal straight like arrows are the first to whiffle and plummet back to land. Usually the flocks drift to the ground only to pull up at the last second to form in the sky before eventually finding the nerve to settle. Through the binoculars, especially when the light is low the bouncing flight of the lapwing on mass creates a twinkling effect as the individual birds flap flashing their white undersides; in formation this becomes a rippling shimmer as the birds maneuver in unison.