I have literally gone back to the drawing board. Having completed a number of InDesign tutorials, accompanied by lots of Googling and frowning, I think I am getting to know my way around the programming and what means what.

I now have my Master Pages consisting of an intro page, a main body page, an index, ticklist of other birds, and a notes page. I have also decided on the main book titles:

  • Town & Country Garden Birds
  • Urban Garden & Parkland Birds
  • Forest & Farmland Birds
  • Coast & Clifftop Birds
  • Pond & River Birds
  • Black & White Birds

I like a bit of alliteration. I haven’t done enough paintings for the black and white birds but I like it as a concept so am keeping it there for now. I am also keeping a list of birds I need to paint, and keeping an eye on Instagram for good pics that will square up. As I am doubling up the birds in some books, I need alternative illustrations.

Meanwhile, back to the flatplan. I am going with 32 pages, including the covers, which gives me room for 24 birds. I have sketched them out roughly so that I can make sure they are facing the right way, the colours work, and flying ones aren’t colliding in to each other. I’ve got them all facing in towards the spine, so towards each other.

I have taken a scan so I have a copy on my phone; you can see the state it’s in having had it on my dining table for a day. I am also noting down the birds I need to paint – so far I have turtle dove, pied wagtail and a kittiwake on my list.

As I was writing the introduction, it highlighted my wish to create a book to encourage us to familiarise ourselves with the common birds – “our” birds – so that we can recognise species which are perhaps visitors, or different to those we normally see. Developing an instinctive bank of bird knowledge is essential as so often birds are seen fleetingly, and being able to cancel out factors and come up with an educated guess is often the best we can hope for. I remember once seeing a peregrine flying high, high up above Westminster, and realising afterwards that there was no way I could see that it was a falcon, but it was the wrong shape for a gull, corvid, or buzzard, too big for a hawk, too small for a red kite, and it was on its own. And no, it wasn’t a plane! So it was more about what it wasn’t or couldn’t be rather than what it was. So, becoming habituated to spotting the same birds day in day out is, counterintuitively, a great way to spot a less common species.

My next task is to upload the images and place them in to the circles. I will use some Lorem ipsum to give me some text so that I can see the size and feel how it flows as a physical book before getting too bogged down in detail as it may be that I need more or less room for info depending on the size. I am going with an Amazon ebook page size and although I have a feeling this book may be more desirable for younger folk, I don’t want eyesight issues to push the demographic in any particular direction! I am calling it a “Logbook for Beginner Birders” and I really hope it encourages people who perhaps only know robins and pigeons to get to know and value the birds in their locality.

Just as an aside, I saw my first swallow of the year yesterday. I didn’t record the date last year as my diary goes distinctly quiet at the end of March 2020, but 2019’s first swallow sighting was 12th April. I try and record the first swallow I see and the first cuckoo I hear but I am not infallible! Here is a linoprint I did last year:

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