Snipe, and Low Carbon Birding

I am definitely more of a lark than an owl, and usually take my dog out for a walk as it’s getting light. I’ve been birdwatching around these fields since I moved here in 2008, and although the volume and variety of species has reduced somewhat in that time, I thought I would make a concerted effort to record what I see this year as I’ve only been a casual observer in the past.

I saw a hashtag about #lowcarbonbirding and although I don’t really travel at all, let alone to specifically to see birds, I have felt conflicted in the past regarding driving somewhere to have a change of birding scenery, and there are now more local initiatives to couple up with. If I visit Rye Harbour Nature Reserve I try and tie that in with other logbook-based errands in Battle and Bexhill-On-Sea, and I am hoping to find some pitstops going west so that I can visit Arundel and Pulborough Brooks.

In the meantime, I am making the most of my immediate patch. For my Nature Notebook entry I have chosen Snipe, as they often poke around in the wet fields behind my house – although the land is intensively managed so not terribly rich pickings. There has been a pair, or two anyway, that often fly up explosively as my dog trots by, zig-zagging off and calling their little squeaky chirp before settling further down in the field.

I chose a couple of stock photos to use as my reference. Photos are great to get the pose or general outline or plumage markers but only as a back-up to eyeballing the live bird, otherwise drawings can look wooden and 2D.

I have used gouache, and this is in my Stillman & Birn landscape mixed media sketchbook, and the lettering is done in Baoke brush pens. I’ve added a watery background and some pencil scribbles using heavily-diluted gouache from my palette. I am enjoying some more painterly art but I find it tricky to get my head off the idea of colour blocks so I’m having to really look and think!

I have done an oil painting of a Snipe which I really enjoyed. I would love to start another oil but it takes a lot of headspace so I need a clear run of time before committing!

What are you choosing for your nature notebook? I am enjoying the birds but there will soon be buds and catkins which I really loved painting last year. This sketchbook is quite small so I am not adding any other embellishments at the moment, but using collage elements can be really effective. I will add a few pictures here for inspiration, or have a look at my Pinterest for more beautiful examples of nature notebooks by some talented artists.

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