The weather on Sunday was cool and a little cloudy, and I decided to Carpe the Diem and head over to Rye Harbour and try out my new-found field sketching information on some real birds. It was pleasantly busy and I got myself a coffee and a flapjack, dug out my bins and sketchbook, and scouted the mudflats for some waders.

There were 3 Little Egrets preening on the bank, and beyond them in the far lagoon I spotted a Curlew, and a dozen or so Redshank. I had a go at the egrets but found they looked rather sinister and cartoonish…I think drawing ovals actually creates confusion, and I’m better with more angular shapes. The Curlew were more successful but I still found myself not properly ‘looking’ at the bird and putting things where I thought they should be rather than where they are.

A few Mallards turned up and I tried them too, but the Curlews were the ones that I felt I connected with most. I realised it might be better to focus on one species at a time and properly get to grips rather than trying all of them and getting overwhelmed. I really really enjoyed it though, and found it restful and relaxing in the way that focussing on something can do, if one’s head is in the right place, and mine was. I did struggle with the constant movement of the Redshanks but the Curlews are more sedate in their travels and seem much less inclined to fly off at the first sign of disturbance. I have spent ages in hides watching birds but this is the first time I have made a concerted effort to go solely with the intention of drawing and I enjoyed the discipline. And the cappuccino.

I also met and spoke to Dr Barry Yates, the Sussex Wildlife Trust warden at the Centre who had helped me with the Rye Harbour ‘line up’ so it was nice to put a face to an email address. I saw lots of Lapwings off in the distance to my left, but decided to tackle them another day as the time had passed by and I’d only intended it to be a quick visit. I took some more logbooks too as they had run out so it’s good to see that they are still selling well even thought the summer rush is over.

Yesterday I had some time to paint a couple of birds for my friend Paul’s book, Birds of Winchelsea. He is using them as part of the membership pack for his Winchelsea Wildlife group, and I am selling them at the Christmas Fair in the town on November 13th, which will be my first outing with all the titles so it will be good to see them on display. The Winchelsea Swift Group use my Swift painting as their logo and Michael, the National Trust warden is helping me compile the list.

I get to use the Redwing, and my new Goldcrest painting, and my Rook.

I had some leftover Rook paint so practised painting a few Curlew in the Ivory Black/Prussian Blue gouache on an offcut:

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