Well it finaly arrived and plunged the whole of the british isles into a mini ice age with record low temperatures! The ice and snow are only now loosening their grip in the the far north and in the hills and the mountains! Minus 16 degrees was recorded not far from where I live and we had a huge dollup of snow that was as deep as it was beautiful. Large flocks of winter thrushes descended on my patch and I was priviledged enough to see Fieldfares, Redwings and Mistle Thrushes in abundance. They provided excellent entertainment and superb sketching and photographic opportunities. I visited an ice-bound Rye Meads and got great views of a Bittern and several Common Snipe while the garden feeders were well and truly ravaged by flocks of finches. I just love the juxtaposition of shapes and forms that some birds make when feeding and so I have indulged myself unashamedly in my interpretation of a group of Redwings among crabapple trees. I hope you approve?
The Bittern showed itself well in the exceptional circumstances and was forced to seek out more open, ice free water. Not that those lucky enough to see it were complaining?
Of course, where there are flocks forced together they always attract the attention of predators and I witnessed a spectacular kill by a female Sparrowhawk right outside my living room window! She came in like a lightning bolt and took out a Collared dove that was sitting on the fence! Then disappeared! The kill was instantaneous and the victim stood no chance! A blood-stained heap of feathers lay on the ground, twitching it's last life's gasp! The death of one provided a meal for another! Such are the nature of things in the wild and I stood in awe as the beautiful huntress glided into view to claim her prize. The pitiful calls of a collared dove's mate were heart renching and went on for some time! I suppose I watched for about half an hour as the breast was plucked and consumed and then the Sparrowhawk took off, carrying her prize with her. Without sentiment and silent!
I want to leave you with a sketch of some Curlews that I am including in my display this coming June at Rye Meads from my exhibition titled 'Wonderful Wetlands'. The exhibition runs from 2nd to the 10th June 2012. Full details will be published in a future blog! Cheers for now!