Sunday, April 22, 2012


 Female kingfisher. On my last visit almost 2 weeks ago, the male showed briefly passing a large red throathed stickleback to the female. Today all the fish brought back were very small and I didn't spot any prickly sticklebacks.
 Male Kingfisher, only appeared briefly, seemed to be driven off by the female.

The last few weeks have been very busy with several college projects all due this week, but finally feel I'm on top of it. Went down to check on a few local birds this morning with the camera and wound up spending over 2 hours hidden in the leaves of a sycmore tree watching a pair of kingfishers. I wasn't there long when the female came in with a tiny fish, evidence that the eggs must have hatched. The male only put in a brief appearance. Hopefully now, with college winding down I will be able to get back more often and bring the sketch book down. One dipper was on the rocks below their nest nearby, while a pair of blackcaps chased each other around me during my vigil. I also heard a sparrowhawk calling several times further up the park, its usually mid July when the chicks fledge and they become very obvious, good to know they are here atleast.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

recent field sketches

 Siberian Chiffchaff.This tatty bird has been in a small park in south Dublin for the last few weeks.
 While watching the chiffchaff, a pair of great tits moved slowly along the hedgerow giving great views. Everytime I started sketching one, the chiffchaff would pop out right in front of me.
Pallid harrier. This juvenile female has spent the winter just outside of Galway city. I timed my journey from Clare upto Achill Island so I would be passing by late in the evening when the bird usually came into roost. I didn't have long to wait and was treated to a close flyby followed by some pro-longed but distant views as it quartered the extensive reeds.

Bird of prey studies

 I spent some of my first week of the Easter holidays in Connaught working my way from Ballyvaughan in Clare to Sligo via Achill Island. I spent a day at the bird of prey centre in Ballyvaughan and another at the eagles flying centre in Sligo. I spent most of my time sketching the owls as they tended to sit still, but after plenty of warm-up and practice I tackled the livlier falcons and hawks. The peregrine and lanner at the bottom are 2 of my better works.
 Long-eared owl. Both centres had long-ears, in sligo I was able to sit down beside one and worked up several sketches, a dosing barn owl beside it also got a lot of attention.

 Barn owls
 Peregrine studies, one of the peregrines in sligo was constantly screaching and I made several attempts to capture this. When I finally had one rough I was happy with I worked it up with more detail.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Saker and barn owl

 Saker falcon. I spent last week on the west coast of Ireland, fitting in time at 2 bird of prey centres to do some life drawing studies for college. I worked up this from my sketches and photographs when I got back.
Barn owl. Always a popular subject of mine when I get a rare opportunity like this. This was drawn at the bird of prey centre at the Ailiwee caves in Co. Clare. Some fantastic birds here also included Bateleur eagle, ural and great grey owls, white tailed eagle, burrowing owls... Could spend several days at  a place like this!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Siberian Chiffchaff

Have had a busy few days but made it out this morning in search of a singing chiffchaff in south Dublin. Arrived early but the bird was already being watched by a birder and stayed on show through out my stay. Alternated my time photographing it when it was close and sketching as it worked its way higher up or farther back in the brambles. The sun was against me and it is probably best viewed from mid morning onwards when it works its way around, but the views were still fantastic. It stayed very quiet early on, only calling once in my first hour, but by 930 it was singing away and calling constantly. The number of pedestrians, cyclists and dog walkers increased and I left happy at 10.30ish.

 A very cold, grey bird, looked very scruffy with some fresh inner greater coverts.
Atleast one willow warbler also showed well briefly and a blackcap sang throughout, Spring is definately here.