Birds of Christmas

OK OK I’m sorry for mentioning Christmas in August. Not sorry actually. I have a new logbook on the go – yay! – and it’s my Christmas Album. Unashamedly gift-y but with enough genuine interest for birdwatchers new and seasoned, and it is my hope that this little stocking filler might spark some investigation over the festive period to look out for our fabulous birds.

There are some garden favourites – Robin, obviously – as well as some of the more charismatic migrant species such as my fave, the Fieldfare, and some surprises like Reed Buntings, that often appear out of their usual habitat, masquerading as sparrows. I am really enjoying writing this one, and I have a lot of new birds to paint – double yay! – even though I am reintroducing a number of the species that have appeared in the other logbooks.

I think I have solved the dilemma of whether or not to include a turkey, so I shall see how it looks. Another slight conundrum was a Turtle Dove as they are obviously summer visitors, so the likelihood of seeing one is zero, but I figure they are so desperately in need of conserving and appreciating that a little artistic licence is permissible. Oh the joys of self publishing!

I am really pleased with the cover too, as I wanted a sort of bird-friendly winter scene rather than anything too gimmicky, so this one has an apple tree, a yew tree, teasel heads and thankfully holly and ivy are both great plants for birds. I’m incorporating some of the 12 Days of Christmas characters, as well as some beauties that brighten a winter’s day like Jays and a Bullfinch. Maybe this year will be my own personal Waxwing year…sigh…I have yet to see one.

There is a bit of a lull in marketing and sales over August as so many folk are on annual leave, and besides, we have all been rather distracted by the impossible heat here in the UK. Consequently I am indulging the painting, even though I am having to use small pieces of paper to do the illustrations as I have run out of decent watercolour paper! I have my sheet that I bought from Shepherds but I want to use that for some paintings to sell. I do find it quite restrictive using small media as part of the beauty is that you can put in lots of detail and get the scope of the bird on a 30cm square sheet which then tightens up beautifully when it’s reduced in size. I have an entire pad of A3 watercolour paper that needs using up though so it makes sense. I bought some white Khadi paper last time I was in London and I can’t remember why, so perhaps I’ll use that for some of my non-book paintings. I really want to do a Bee-eater…

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