In my quest to practise field sketching, I try and take a little notebook and propelling pencil out with me (I use a 2H lead) but sometimes I find it difficult to stop long enough to draw, so I am trying a technique called ‘freeze frame’ which, as it sounds, is where you lock an image of the bird you’re looking at in to your mind’s eye, to then be conjured up when time allows. It takes practise, but I must say, I am getting better and more able to recall what I have seen. I find it is working well now that I am doing more sketching generally as the brain-pencil link needs to be fully enabled i.e. I can relay what I see in my head accurately on to paper. I’m not quite there yet and if I am distracted there are definite gaps and I can’t freely draw what I see. It’s easy to forget that art and drawing takes daily practise, just like any other discipline!
I am recording what I see in 2022 on a Master List in my diary, and I’m currently on 37 species. I was really pleased to discover that the little flock of brown birds I’ve been seeing just too far out of range to be clear about their identification, were actually Bramblings! They look quite rusty rather than orange-y, and I thought they were buntings or pipits or Skylarks, but there was white on the wings and the plumage looked too busy rather than streaky, and then they called which convinced me that they were indeed Bramblings. I stood under a silver birch and watched a group of Long-tailed Tits twittering above me. I saw a Yellowhammer too, which was lovely as I enjoy seeing them sitting atop the hedges; once of the few species which benefits from flailed, clipped hedgerows as many are around here.
I have been drawing from webcams too – Rye Harbour have a channel, and although the clips are short, some are slowed down, like this one here of Lapwings:
There are lots of videos of birds just doing their thing, and the Wildlife Trusts have webcams of various birds; February is probably not the best time but I just watched a Barn Owl in a Dorset nestbox which was a rather lovely surprise! These are great for repeated views of the same bird, so a bit more challenging than copying a photo but not quite as challenging as live…especially at this time of year when hides are quite chilly, or birds are a long way off. It’s brilliant for getting a bit of muscle memory for when it warms up! Here are some Oystercatchers and Lapwings, and a couple of Curlew drawings.