Sunday, 5 October 2014



   This past week I visited Welney with the intention of paying attention to the growing Wigeon flock now on the reserve. Every year I say to myself, I must paint some male Wigeon in their eclipse plumage, and every year the chance passes by as they moult into winter plumage while I am side-tracked by more fleeting attractions on the Norfolk coast. A brief bird in some bushes, it seems, is often judged to be worth more than a load of ducks on the land that will be here for ages yet- i've got plenty of time for them still.

So, with it being all quiet on the western palearctic front, and the only rare birds much too far away to visit, I spent three afternoons enjoying the blazing heat of October, sketchbook in hand and wigeon to watch.

Day one, and two lovely Dunlin are sleeping while around them hundreds of Wigeon and Teal feed, swim and loaf. they look so picturesque I can't resist drawing them- they look like they might not move until I'm done. Well, one stayed long enough at least.

Day two, and with important tractor work being carried out in front of the main hide, the ducks are skittish and refuse to settle. A Golden Plover, however, stands rigid in a semi-crouch, obviously aware of the tractor but unwilling to flee. I can't quite work out if it is sheer terror of the machine that keeps it rooted to the spot, or extreme bravery, putting faith in it's cryptic camouflage to allow it to remain unseen while observing the four-wheeled beast.
lets be honest- it was absolute fear, but it did allow me the opportunity of sketching a non-sleeping bird for a change, and I did not waste the most surreal ten minute life drawing session i've had in a while.

Day three, and the wigeon are content to graze and loaf- but there are six Cranes out on the wash. On day two there were two, and a Great Egret, and I managed not to get diverted by them, but today the cranes are fairly close and impossible to ignore.

Well, the Wigeon are going to be here all winter- i've got plenty of time for them still. Have I said that before? idiot.