Holiday sketches: two kinds of egrets

Snowy white herons called egrets are a little exotic in Britain but are common in Mallorca.  I cycled past fields in which cattle egrets co-existed with sheep and past a stone cistern hosting lines of egrets round the rim.  These sketches were done of birds roosting and hunting in the waters of the nature reserve, spotted by telescope. The larger birds with yellow feet are little egrets, the smaller ones with yellow crests and bills are cattle egrets. 

2014-08-26 12.12.30 By the time I got round to drawing these birds, I felt I had loosened up a bit.  I scribbled only a few lines on the paper, just enough to hold the image so I could go back and throw on a minimum of watercolour washes a few minutes later. The pen and washes work well on the fairly smooth Stillman and Birns watercolour paper.  My aim was to work quickly without overworking the picture.

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I also spotted a line of about 25 elegant waders, black-winged stilts with long red legs and delicate probing bills.

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In loading these drawings, I came across pictures of cattle egrets accompanying horses against a background of tall reeds, drawn while on another cycle ride in Mallorca two years ago with quite different technique.

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Lapwings in flight

Huge formations of birds in flight are clearly fascinating to others.  A comment led me to http://portraitsofwildflowers.wordpress.com/2011/12/10/grackles-revisited/ and a further comment on that site took me to another blog and an image of flocking geese http://theirisandthelily.wordpress.com/2011/03/10/a-field-of-white/.

I regularly watch lapwings in flight.  They suddenly startle and take off in unison.  They wheel and soar on frying-pan wings almost in formation, often in chaos, sometimes forming patterns, often breaking up into ones or twos, until they all sweep in to land noisily in the shallows again.  Capturing this in paint is difficult.  I know the image below is flat and has lost the sense of movement I set out to capture.  Still – this is an online sketchbook not an art gallery!  I will attempt this again.

Its worth mentioning that the grackles photograph mentioned above is a post on the blog http://portraitsofwildflowers.wordpress.com/.  I spend an enjoyable half hour with my six year old son going through this fabulous site focussing mainly on botanical photography.  Joseph said “wow” at nearly every shot.

While I’m at it, here are a few other field sketches of lapwings in conte crayon or in ink