Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Skomer Day 13: Last Day

Time-lapse ledge, showing imposter
being challenged.
I have had to manage my last day on Skomer carefully to make sure I collect all the information I need to help make the final scrolls for the exhibition in September.
First stop the Wick to try out a different time-lapse drawing to yesterday based on a shorter ledge. I wanted to try this because the shorter ledge meant drawing versions of the ledge in quick succession (about 20 mins each, the theory being I would be more likely to capture any changes happening over a short period, about an hour in this case. In fact I did manage to record an interesting interaction, which came as a complete surprise. In the image below, the first line in the series to be drawn being at the bottom, I recorded one bird returning to the group of four on the left making it five in the second row from the bottom. This guillemot allo-preened the nearby bird for the next forty minutes or so until, as shown in the 5th line up, another guillemot returns flying straight at the back of the first and wrestling it off the cliff before taking up this usurped birds position to make up the pair. I can only assume that the first returning bird was an imposter and the second, having made a direct line of flight to this spot was the true partner. In the last line at the top we can see it courting its mate. Only by using this time-lapse approach to observational drawing could this relationship reveal itself to me. 
After this I move further down the Wick to add another line to yesterday's long ledge time-lapse drawing. I wanted to include midday because this is supposedly a quieter period for the colonies in comparison to the morning and evening periods I already had represented in the drawing.

8pm at the Amos
Next, I move on to the Amos for the evening, where I recorded the major groups on the South side of the peninsular for a second scroll. This scroll, combined with the one from the beginning of the week will complete a panorama of the entire Amos loomery. Finally, I couldn't leave the island without another night amongst the returning Shearwater. A particularly still night and with so many breeding birds, I could stop and listen to the whole island alive with the gurgling whoops and cackles of hundreds of thousands of shearwater. This noise of the whole islands subterranian world reverberating gave me a sense of Skomer as an enormous breeding colony, dormant in the day and coming alive at night. Bleary eyed and half asleep at one in the morning surrounded by birds flopping in and out of burrows, brushing my head as they crash to the ground is a surreal experience; surely there must be folklore explaining this fantastical night time realm. For me the whole dreaming experience is epitomised by the wonderfully bizarre contrast of these sleek, hardy ocean navigators grounded amongst a fairy landscape of midnight blue bells and curling bracken furls.
Shearwater grounded in midnight blue bells

Shearwater movement, slow, frantic, sometimes
almost stealthy but not quite

1 comment:

  1. A fascinating project- great insight into the colony recorded in a stunning way.