Some birds I drew

2014-07-Kittiwakes at St Abbs Head (5)

The title of the post is credited to a comment made by artist Nancy Farmer on a recent post.

2014-07-Kittiwakes at St Abbs Head (7)

These drawings were made in ink, with water to create the tones, in an A5 sketchpad.

I stood on a narrow spit of grass-covered rock with steep drops on either side.  Kittiwakes wheeled above me, at eye level and far below.  Much of the time the birds flew so close that I could draw directly without binoculars.

2014-07-Kittiwakes at St Abbs Head (1)

Many birds were returning to their nests and partners, with ululating greetings by both parties.

2014-07-Kittiwakes at St Abbs Head (8)

Others seemed to be riding the rollercoaster of the air, mostly gliding, with only a few downbeats of the outer parts of the wings.

They circled fast, away from the cliff.  Then turning in, they descended, dropping their legs and splaying their toes to use as airbrakes as, perilously, they neared the rock face. There, rising air gave them lift. Gaining height but slowing, they turned and accelerated, soaring out to repeat the manoeuvre.

2014-07-Kittiwakes at St Abbs Head (6)

I had to watch and watch again, trying to fix their shapes in my mind.  It seemed that the white body and head was suspended beneath the rigid plane of the wing, reminiscent of a hang glider or a Cessna light aircraft.

2014-07-Kittiwakes at St Abbs Head (2)

I found I was drawing rhomboids, one for the inner wing, made up of the arm and secondary flight feathers, and another for the outer surface made of the fingers and primary feathers.  These moved and changed shapes in relation to each other through the cycle of soaring, wheeling and braking.

2014-07-Kittiwakes at St Abbs Head (9)

And always there was the noise of the onomatopoeic kittiwakes.

10 responses to “Some birds I drew

  1. Wow your drawing and sketches and everything I’ve seen on your blog are just wonderful! I’m a new follower, I can’t wait for your future pieces 🙂

  2. Where is the love button? Your blog posts inspire me. I must go and look up the meaning for onomatopoeic right now. And other things. Oh & practice drawing some birds, cos I do love birds. Thank you!

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