Holiday sketches II – hidden

I took the sign-posted path into the Albufereta nature reserve. This led to three bird hides, overlooking dried up ponds, beds baked hard by the sun, strewn with rocks, barren.
But there were movements among the rocks, shapes only clear when viewed by telescope.
These are stone curlews, insect eaters that hide, camouflaged against bare ground, hunkering down on plantigrade feet to merge with the rocks.







These drawings were done with ink and water, then conte crayon and chalk pastel for the few colours, in the Stillman and Birns beta sketch pad.


11 responses to “Holiday sketches II – hidden

    • Hi Anne,
      Plantigrade feet is what you have. You walk on your heel and your knee faces forward. Birds, like many animals, walk on their toes, the heel lifted well off the ground looking like a backwards facing knee. In birds the actual knee is hidden deep under feathers which is why their legs seem to begin in the middle of their body, rather than at the hips. But oddly, I saw these stone curlews sit down on their heels as shown in the drawing. I have never seen a bird do this before, though perhaps it is more common than I think, but typically hidden by the body.

    • Hi
      I’ve given the wrong idea here.
      They walk around on their toes, like dinosaurs always did. I observed the plantigrade stance when they were crouching. They did shuffle about on their heels a little but not hunt. It really did look weird as you say, but did not seem to be their main gait. As I say, it may be more common than I think, but usually hidden by feathers in other species with shorter legs (e.g. What is the position of a duck’s legs when it’s roosting on land? I’ve seen loads of ducks but never their legs when they sit!).

      • I understood that it was a temporary stance, related to feeding.
        In addition, the structure of the legs would not allow them to walk well.
        I think penguins are much close to be plantigrade, they have a very short tarsus and a short gait..

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