Nova Scotia bird art

A Couple of Quick Portraits…

I’m still working through a long list of bird vignettes for upcoming Mark Dennis publications. To keep things interesting, I like to do a few birds, then switch to a landscape or wharf scene. The vignettes are deliberately quite small and simple, with little background, to enable easy insertion into e-books. There are currently two books on the go, an avifauna of Cape Sable Island and ‘Twitching Times II’, the story of bird trips since we moved to North America. The history of Mark’s twitches in the UK has already been documented in his e-book ‘Twitching Times’, with pen and ink illustrations from me (book still available!). Some examples are on the relevant page of this blog.

For ‘The Birds of Cape Sable Island’, I painted this Common Murre (or Guillemot, if you are in the UK). These birds are usually present in low numbers during the cold parts of the year (January/February in particular) and often seek shelter inside the wharfs, where unfortunately they often become prey to marauding Greater Black-backed Gulls. Nature ‘red in tooth and claw’, I guess.


4 x 8 inch, watercolour pencil on lightweight watercolour paper.

The second painting is of a female King Eider, another of those subtle beauties full of details in browns and blacks. This illustration is intended for ‘Twitching Times II’, since seeing it required a trip to Ste-Luce, near Rimouski in Quebec. This was of course when we lived in the Montreal area, so perhaps not quite so big a journey as it would be from here, but still quite a trip. King Eiders are occasionally seen amongst the winter Eider flocks on the St-Lawrence river but, unfortunately, we have not yet connected with a male in North America.


5 x 7 inch, watercolour pencil on lightweight watercolour paper.


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