It’s been pretty horrible weather here in the UK for the last few weeks so my sketching practise has been confined to webcams. The Cornell Lab FeederWatch cams are great – especially the Sapsucker Woods one in Ithaca, where I was thrilled to see a Blue Jay and Mourning Doves. I drew lots of Redpolls and American Crows from the Ontario FeederWatch cam – I have a Birds of North America field guide that I bought from a second-hand bookstore in Chicago which has proven useful! I have done lots of scribbly sketches, some while on pause, some while the livestream is running.

I am running a Field Sketching Workshop with South Downs Wildlife on 15th May and I am excited to show people how enjoyable it is to sketch birds. That’s happening at West Rise Marsh, so I have been using the Rye Harbour webcams to practise drawing ducks. Here are some Wigeon:

Have you watched any webcams from other parts of the world? I am hoping to catch up with some Peregrines, Ospreys, and other birds of prey now the breeding season is getting underway as I’m not terribly proficient, and their beak/eye proportions are so important to get accurate. Webcams encourage a lot of passive observation and I think this is really helpful in anchoring certain body shapes and gives a proper feel of the bird which is far better than using photos; even when paused, a live video gives angles and stances that are natural and authentic and add real character to sketches that can’t be captured by a gorgeous portrait photo – beautiful as those may be.

In other news, the Blue Tits are checking out the nest box in my beech tree, and I have seen both a female Blackbird and a Dunnock flying around with nesting material. My neighbour has 3 cats so I am really hoping the birds manage to find a safe place to rear their young. I have a housecat who does enjoy pouncing at the window feeders, but I have 2 of those now and the birds seem to have learned that there is a choice!

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