Hawfinch: Red List Birds

I have decided to do a logbook with some of the birds that are currently on the Birds of Conservation Concern list that has just been published. It makes for sad reading, but I only have so much stomach for depressing news before feeling bound to try and do something about it.

So, what can I do to help? I want to put together a logbook of some of the more unlikely or “common” species that most would be surprised to see on the list to bring the problems faced by some of our more familiar birds to the public eye. There is an excellent book, Red Sixty Seven which is an anthology celebrating and highlighting the 67 species that were on the previous List using words and images by notable authors, poets, and artists. I pitched the idea of a logbook to the BTO and they said they were focussing on the next edition of the Red List book so couldn’t really take on board my suggestion but once again, I can use my self-publishing to full advantage and just produce it myself…

One bird on the list I have not seen but would love to – and they has been seen in some number so far this year in Sussex – is the Hawfinch. They have beautiful blocks of colour so suit my style well but I have not painted one before. That big beak makes them very front-heavy, like the tractor unit of an articulated lorry, and I had to check my drawing a few times as the head looks disproportionately large.

I need to do another Stonechat as the one I have is a bit too stylised and I want to paint one perched atop a twig as that is such a “Stonechatty” pose. I try and draw as many as I can in a session as it does help to keep my eye in, and then paint them all in another session as I then waste a smaller amount of paint! Gouache is pretty forgiving and will rewet but it’s better used within 24 hours I find.

My first draft of the Red List Birds (to be painted in italics) is as follows:

  • Grey Partridge
  • Lapwing
  • Starling
  • Ring Ouzel
  • House Sparrow
  • Hawfinch
  • Greenfinch
  • Cirl Bunting
  • Turtle Dove
  • Cuckoo
  • Kittiwake
  • Puffin
  • Skylark
  • House Martin
  • Lesser Spotted Woodpecker
  • Yellowhammer
  • Mistle Thrush
  • Nightingale
  • Linnet
  • Ptarmigan
  • Merlin
  • Yellow Wagtail

Then for the 5 ‘Other birds’ at the back:

  • Curlew
  • Black-tailed Godwit
  • Swift
  • Corn Bunting
  • Shag

I am still waiting for the right image for the cover/DPS to coalesce in my head but I will start work on the birds I need to paint in the meantime.

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