The farmers have been depositing loads of manure to spread on the fields before cultivating, and the birds are feasting on the worms and other insects buried in this rather smelly treasure. My art room looks out over this field so I have put up my little scope so I can watch and draw the gulls, corvids, and pigeons.

For all my precision painting for book illustrations, I actually love doing quick, scrappy, rather abstract drawings. These were done with a stubby pencil without looking at the page, which is a great way to loosen up and stop getting hung up on expectations or detail:

I am running a field sketching course on Saturday morning if you’re interested in learning how to sketch birds from life – it’s good fun and a great way to hone your identification skills, and add some personality to a nature journal or birdwatching notes.

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