Tuesday 21 June 2011

Week 24

Here is my page for week 24.  Last week after the high tide I went searching for objects left behind.  It was a dull grey day with a stormy sky.   I stumbled across a huge jellyfish,  the biggest one I have ever seen here.  I prodded it with my foot and as I lifted the thick jelly body I could see all the long coiled tentacles.   The centre of this circular body was orange and brown umber,  I wished I had taken the camera.  I later read that a jellyfish can still sting when out of the water and dying,  a lesson to be learnt,  never touch them.   The seaweed was glowing,  shades of orange on this grey day.  It was so strange to see so much orangey brown seaweeds,  different shapes but all orange. And then several lengths of bright orange rope and pieces of orange tangled fish net.   It was a colour theme I could not ignore and then the crabs and even some plants with pale orangey leaves.   I have noticed that  the seaweed can appear all the same shades  on a certain day, rather like the seasons it seems to bring a certain colour group. 
Although I am not really a fan of the colour orange I could not resist my orange collection and even a feather to match.   I  found a lovely black and rusty orange oak leaf to add to my bag of treasures and enjoyed using these bright colours on a rainy day.  I used yellow and red for the orange,  sepia and white.  It is painted with acrylic inks and then I decided to just stipple a little with a sepia ink pen.
I had a lovely walk on the shore yesterday,and crossed over the tidal river to walk along  the other side of the bank.  We saw a  pair of Oyster catchers who  flew around very excited making loud noises  and did not want us there.  I wanted to go to where all the ducks congregate, the large flock which we have been watching over the weeks.   They  all got up and flew as we approached,  the ground was scattered with hundreds of feathers,  guess what I was doing while my husband sat and watched other birds.   I also found lots of Curlew feathers, the brown and white striped ones, different sizes and shapes.   Just along the shore we saw a pair fly up from the ground.  I found it hard to believe these two large birds would nest here but the expert insisted they do.   It was just by luck that we decided to go across the grass and find a broken egg shell, a hatched curlew egg.  There isn't much of it,  the pointed end  and enough to estimate and indicate the size of this large egg.  
The reason we went this way was because we saw a duck, a beautiful brown speckled duck with an unusual beak sitting in the long grass.  It pretended it had not seen us,  it kept very still and was so well camouflaged, sitting on a nest.  We quietly altered our path,  as luck had it to find the  Curlew egg shell.  We now know it was a Eider duck,  we read "she is a devoted mother seldom leaving  her eggs and sometimes going without food  for  three to four weeks", quote from  The Observers' Book of Birds.   It was a beautiful sight, and one that has in the past provided us with "eider down", her nesting feathers .....to stuff our quilts... Eiderdowns.  A piece of social history too for you.
Hope you enjoy my week  24.  Thank you for your comments and welcome to my new followers.

Sunday 12 June 2011

Week 23

"The markings are grey and brown or near-black: they are variable, consisting of a mixture of specks, spots, streaks, blotches and scribbles scattered evenly the shell, or sometimes clustered more densely towards the larger end" is the description in, " The Observers Book of Birds' Eggs". " The ground colour varies from a creamy stone or buff to a more yellowish shade , and is occasionally suffused with a greenish tinge."
As I was drawing the egg in pencil I tried to record the patterns and shapes accurately. I think the book explained it beautifully as specks, spots, streaks, blotches and scribbles.  My painted egg shell  also shows the colour with a greenish tinge so  we are fairly certain it is the egg of an Oyster catcher.   Then  I selected five of the striped feathers also collected from the shore  last weekend.   I used my acrylic inks and a sable brush again.  It is a nice collection and makes a lovely page for week 23.
Today is wet and grey,  with the wind whistling through the house.  The tide has been up and  as it is such a wet afternoon I am glad to be sat by the fire,  yes a fire in June!   There is little or no view as the low mist hangs over the shore.   I just added the finishing touches to my feathers and photographed the page. 
It made me think about all the birds here in the estuary, each one starting their life as an egg.  It is hard to believe how this egg survived in a nest on the ground, with dangers of other birds, dogs, sheep, humans and the weather.  Of course the sea eventually washed this egg and left it in the tide line where it was found.  We hope it had hatched and survived.
 In the past we have stumbled  upon a nest,  usually in a slight hollow in the ground and there we would be delighted to see three or four eggs.  This is when you realise how those specks, spots, and blotches are so important as camouflage,  the eggs just disappear into the background with such clever colouring.  When we were younger,  we found many more than we do today.  Despite the dangers,  young chicks must survive as we have a  healthy population here. 
As the sun was shining,  I did my walk on Friday evening and  saw  many different birds, bird calls filled the air.   I collected a handful of feathers,  black and white ones from the Oyster catchers and lots of different duck feathers,  the striped Curlew feathers and long grey ones with black tips belonging to the gulls.
The feathers are evidence of the many birds which live and visit here.  Again I find it fascinating to think of how the birds fly with the aid of their feathers.  Each feather specially shaped to be part of  the intricately shaped  wing, each one beautifully coloured to make up patterns on the birds.  So when I find them I marvel at nature, so clever,  so perfect how it designs.
Hope you like my little design for week 23.
Thank you for the lovely comments,  I love to read them and appreciate you spending the time writing them.  So if you are visiting let me know.            Millyx      
ps. I have just opened an Etsy shop, I intend to put some little originals for sale soon.

Sunday 5 June 2011

Week 22

We have had some beautiful hot sunny days and I have enjoyed sitting in the garden drawing feathers for my Week 22 page.  I listened to the birds singing and the bees buzzing as I  sat on the grass, sometimes chasing my feathers as they blew away in the breeze.   The larger feathers were drawn and painted at the kitchen table, with the sun streaming in and good light which helps with the details.  A birds skull found by my husband on one of our walks on the shore was added to the page.  It has an unusual beak and after a search he has found it to be a "Razorbill", the white marks on the beak helped identify it.  We often find dead birds and the sea can also wash them up onto the shore.  This skull was just as he found it  with the lower beak  missing .   I used my acrylic inks for the feathers and after drawing the skull gave it a light wash with ink to seal the pencil.   I chose some of the many feathers I found on the shore last week  and filled a double spread in my sketchbook.
Today we went for our walk about five o'clock.  Sadly the sunshine has gone and we have returned to a cold breezy day again. We had to wrap up against the chilly north east wind.   The shore was empty and we walked along the edge of the tidal river watching all the birds.  It was a high tide about one o'clock and now the birds were feeding in the water.  There was a huge group of ducks, I counted to  fifty so estimated there was about a hundred.  Large Heron gulls, black headed gulls and Oyster catchers were all searching for food at the waters edge.  Then the magnificent sight as the Heron flew over and landed in the water.  
I  searched  along the sandy banks to see what the tide had left in the tangles of seaweed and grass.  More crabs, whelks egg cases, feathers, oak leaves, different coloured sea weeds and bits of branches and leaves.  The jelly fish are now  thin round plastic looking discs  moulded to the grass,  dried out with the hot days. The grass has grown and the pink thrift is taller with out the sheep to eat it.  Suddenly my husband discovered  the find of the day, a beautiful spotted birds egg, an empty shell washed up by the sea.   A lovely subject for my week 23 page,  so look out for it.
We walked our usual route and talked about the high tide expected next Saturday,  what might it bring for my next page, something interesting I hope.   The two swallows followed us,  darting in front of us at high speed but no sign of the swan today.    As it started spitting, the rain made circles on the water and so we headed for home.  It was because of the rain I nearly smashed my precious find,  I had placed the egg in my hood to keep it safe, and forgetting about it being there I started to pulled it up!  It did arrive home safely ready to draw.  I hope the chick which hatched from it is also safe, as we think it is the egg of an oyster catcher.
Hope you like the pages.  As always, thank you for your comments, it is lovely to read them.  So  if you have time I would love to hear from you.                 Millyx.
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