Saturday, 11 July 2009

Bring on the Birdies

Coot Nest in Victoria Park
pencil and coloured pencils in Moleskine sketchbook
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

This year, I've started drawing water birds for the very first time. It sort of goes with the territory. First you have the water - and then the water birds turn up. Water and birds are almost becoming indivisible to me since everywhere I go I see birds when I see water.

Spring was fun with all the tiny birdies coming out to play for the first time. This was after a few weeks of very loud high pitched squawking if anything came near a hidden nest. It took me a while to catch on that was what was going on.

Coots are the sculptors of the waterbird world.

Coots have elaborate 'on the water' nests which are continuously built and repaired it seems while the babes are young. I sketched the family of coots you can see above in Victoria Park. Mum and Dad busied themselves with housework and looking after the nest - which was of course has to be extended extension as their kids grew up and out! It also provided a good chance to study ripples - which are not easy to draw as they change continuously!

Herons on the other hand are complete posers! They also practice nonchalence and studied indifference as a sideline.

Bert takes personal grooming very seriously
pencil in sketchbook

copyright Katherine Tyrrell

Bert - my heron at the Ecology Park Pond - never hides when posing prominently is an option.

On the other hand he never likes his fans to get too close and is much happier if we keep our distance.

I find him completely fascinating because of the contortions he goes through in terms of changing what his body looks like. When he's stretched out he's absolutely enormous and yet he can curl his neck and body up and make himself look very small as well.

My sketches of him going through his normal grooming routine (this boy could groom for GB!) were done while sitting on top of the Ecology Pavilion roof looking down at him perched on the rail of Heron Bridge. Which is so named because it's his favourite perching place by far.

He has a routine which is somewhat repetitive and I found it easiest to start several sketches on the same page and then work on whichever one he was in at the time - swopping around as he did.

There's no mistake with the leg. He does all his grooming while standing on one leg. I told you he was a poser!


Africantapestry and Myfrenchkitchen said...

Both very nice sketches Katherine!
You're right, when one starts birdwatching, you really get hooked and before you know it, you're out there with books and binoculars and notebooks and sketchbooks, cameras...the works!

vivien said...

nice - specially the heron

it's amazing the wildlife you get deep in the city

Lindsay said...

I've seen alot of herons but they were always too busy fishing so I learned something new about their grooming behavior.

You really captured quiet a bit of information.

jinx1764 said...

I'm always a sucker for birds. My niece loves coots because they make a cute squawk similar to a fart. Since she's 7 she just thinks that's the funniest thing.

Jeanette said...

I love watching birds as well and its wonderful to see these sketches of them in natural poses, doing their everyday thing.

There are loons that I hear on a pond close to me, but they are elusive and I rarely see them, just hear them. At dusk, the sound has an eerie but oh-so-Canadian feel to it. I must go loon stalking!

Lindsay said...

Katherine, what about starting a bird challenge?

Katherine Tyrrell said...

I think I'd need to get better at drawing birds first!

Lindsay said...

That's precisely the point! I'm doing Jeanette's rock challenge and my poor rocks are looking like pillows. But I'm sure I'll improve by the end of the month! Your birdies have proportion and personality. What more could you ask for;>)