Thursday 23 September 2010


I always think that Lapwings are great value and very obliging in every way! They are so easy to recognise and are still one of our commonest and most widespread waders. Having said that, they are nowhere near as common as they used to be! I used to see them regularly in the fields in Hertfordshire years ago, especially when we had more animals on the local farms. They will eat any type of invertabrate and are brilliant at getting rid of soil born pests. I have to go to the Lea valley to sketch them now or to Norfolk where I sketched some breeding pairs and their young earlier this year. I have to be discreet and keep a respectful distance otherwise I risk upsetting the birds and being mobbed! I must admit that I really enjoy watching the aerial acrobatics as a passing Marsh Harrier is seen off or a pair indulge in courtship display!
I love the widely ranging variation in plumage that can result in the most gorgeous gilt edging to the feathers, especially among juveniles and I can't resist slopping the wet washes over the paper and mixing the colours wet in wet to try to capture the iridescence and sheen! Greens, bronzes and purples of every hue that change constantly as does the light, are a real challenge.

I also love the infinite variety of poses that provide some challenging sketching exersises and result in some strange and bizzare shapes as the birds preen and stretch! Great fun!               

I leave you with a watercolour that I did of a Lapwing sitting on eggs as seen in Norfolk this spring. It does one's heart good to hear the plaintive cry of the Lapwing as it dances overhead against a brooding sky and I am fortunate to have witnessed this on many occassions from the mountains and moors of the north and the rugged coasts, and to the flat marshes and mudflats of east anglia as well as my own patch in Hertfordshire. Long may it continue!