It was nice having a long distance traveller on the doorstep at Titchfield Haven recently. A sandy coloured, peachy-rumped Siberian stonechat in the company of some twenty common stonechats. I love this group of birds, visible - mainly, playing out their lives on the top of bushes, as opposed to skulking in the middle of them. The perfect artist's model. Having said that, it took several vists before I made any useful notes on it - bad light, too much wind(!), leaves on the line, catching up with old pals...... you know the sort of thing. She? (pale throat, no sign of dark ear-coverts) spent most it's stay zipping around, fly-catching in an area of cut meadow, avoiding it's slightly larger, bullyish cousins.
Wandering down on the last day of it's sojourn, we noticed a silhouette bobbing and tail-shivering on the top of a 'house' (mansion) neighbouring the reserve entrance. Surely a black redstart and so it was, making the most of insect snacks drawn out by the warmth of the day. Red admirals, migrant hawkers and common darters were not such a surprise to see on the wing, but a pair of brimstone butterflies flying in courtship outside our window as I write, is surely a little bit optimistic even in this weather.
A Forest fungi hunt beckons this weekend - might even put the correct name to one for a change.........naahh!
After the fun and excitement of last weekends show at Titchfield Haven, this week, it was nose firmly back to the grindstone. Working on interpretation paintings for Cow Green Resevoir and grabbing any moment while the washes dried to paint the garden birds.
It's starting to feel more like autumn/winter, so it won't be long before the Blackcaps are back and feeding on the fatballs - providing the Starlings leave some morsels for them.
Very busy at the Titchfield Haven NNR Craft Fair this weekend, so not much in the way of opportunities to get out and paint.
However, on sunday morning I grabbed the chance to open up the hides on the west side of the reserve. Although a little perky around the gills, the morning was glorious and bright. The light was sharp and keen, hi-lighting the loafing waders and ducks beautifully. Resisting the urge to paint, I did the honorable thing and made my way to the centre. Walking back round the lower end I noticed all the birds flush from the scrapes - there had to be a big bird of prey about. Sure enough a magnificent female Peregrine soon manifested itself from out of the havoc of fleeing birds. In between dragging a little old lady out of the road to stop her being run over and then trying to show her the bird as it flew about twenty feet over our heads, I managed to put a few shapes to paper while the moment was fresh. The Falcon failed in its attempt to catch breakfast this time, but I heard that she had better luck later, when duffing-up a flock of Wood Pigeons.
Can I just thank one and all for their support at the Fair, it was a lovely friendly couple of days and we raised a good sum of money for the ducks!
I recently posted a field painting of resting Lapwing on the south scrape at Titchfield Haven. I wanted to develop this idea further in the studio. I always love painting Lapwing, but the scene was enhanced further by the 'Woodhenge' feel of the weathered timbers - giving an ethereal quality to the moment.
If you're expecting words of wisdom from Dan and Rosemary you may be sadly disappointed. However, if you want to keep up to date with our current projects then pick up the feed at the top of this column.