Sunday, 13 October 2013

Sandwell Valley - October

Today I was once again volunteering at RSPB Sandwell Valley, despite a day of truly dreadful weather being forecast. I hadn't been since August as September had been filled by other things, e.g. final assignments and revision, so was expecting a different assemblage of birds today compared to my last visit. 

When I arrived, perhaps due to said weather, there were no other volunteers available to open the hide with me so I went for a wander in the rain to see what I could see. That turned out to be not much out of the ordinary, but included my first Redwing of the autumn, prompting me to mutter darkly under my breath 'winter is coming' whilst really hamming up my Yorkshire accent Sean Bean-style. Also around were plenty of Snipe, new arrivals since I was last there, a ton of (well, 25) Cormorants, and the first few Wigeon and Goosander. Luckily I was well waterproofed but after an hour or so the damp was starting to seep in and my befogged spectacles were becoming somewhat tiresome, so I was relieved when some other volunteers arrived so that the hide could be opened.

Things were pretty quiet in the hide both bird- and visitor-wise, which at least meant I could get on with some drawing!

Lapwings hunkering down on the island from the hide.
There were some very active Grey Wagtails around, one of my favourites and they came nice and close too:

Grey Wagtail from the hide.
I tried to sketch a couple of Snipe but they were very active, I kept in mind the advice from Killian Mularney in John Busby's 'Drawing Birds' (excellent birthday gift from my parents) to just draw the parts of a bird as you see them and eventually you should end up with bits and bobs you can compile a complete sketch from. I'll have to come back to Snipe as they disappeared into the undergrowth, so I moved onto a much more stationary Grey Heron instead which I'm quite pleased with. The Grey Wagtail coming close was a good sketching opportunity too.

Sketches of Common Snipe and Grey Heron.
Grey Wagtail sketch.

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