Evening Grosbeaks are infrequent visitors to our garden but we were favoured with a small group on a few days back in December 2016. I used several of Mark’s photographs, posed on bare branches against a iron grey sky, to make this painting of two males and a female bird. One of the more spectacular of our winter visitors!
‘Evening Grosbeaks’, 8 x 10 inch, watercolour pencil, on 90 lb watercolour paper.
Eastern Bluebirds are seen every year, but are still uncommon and local in our area. They are usually seen in the summer, so a lone bluebird turning up in December 2016 was noteworthy. Mark took several shots of the bird in different poses, so I decided that these would make a nice study. Bare branches but a blue/grey sky set off the bird’s plumage well.
‘Eastern Bluebirds’, 8 x 10 inch, watercolour pencil, on 90 lb watercolour paper.
Churn Road, in the neighbouring county of Yarmouth, has held a good mixed flock of sparrows all winter, including American Tree Sparrow, Song Sparrow and a single 1st winter White-crowned Sparrow. The birds have favoured a patch of prickly leafless bushes adjoining a saltmarsh. Mark took lots of shots, which I combined in this composition.
‘Churn Road’, 8 x 10 inch, watercolour pencil, on 90 lb watercolour paper.
Common Eiders are commonly found around our sea coasts and are a welcome sight during the winter months. Coming into breeding plumage in January, they provide a splash of colour at the dreary time of the year.
‘Loafing Eiders’, 10 x 14 inch, watercolour pencil, on 140 lb watercolour paper.
European Starlings are quite common on Cape Sable Island and form large flocks, especially in winter. A substantial number were present in February 2017, feeding around lobster cages on Daniel’s Head. Mark took images and I combined several to prepare this picture.
‘A Chattering of Starlings’, 5 x 10 inch, watercolour pencil on 90 lb watercolour paper.
Northern Pintails are regular, if not common, in winter. The male’s plumage is particularly striking. from a photo by Mark.
‘Northern Pintail’, 8 x 10 inch, watercolour pencil on 90 lb watercolour paper.
Harlequin ducks are regular but hard to find in the seas off Cape Sable in winter. Here two photos of Mark’s have been combined to make this picture of an adult male and an immature male, just showing glimpses of the adult blue plumage.
‘Harlequins’, 8 x 10 inch, watercolour pencil on 90 lb watercolour paper.
Common Goldeneye are present in the waters around Cape Sable Island in winter. Here, a female displays her subtle plumage and detailed outspread wings as she comes into land on water. From an image by Mark Dennis.
‘Splashdown’, female Common Goldeneye, 8 x 10 inch, watercolour pencil on 90 lb watercolour paper.
Large rafts of Long-tailed Ducks are commonly seen around the island in winter. The males look quite comical in their clown-like breeding plumage and splendid long tails. the females have their own subtle beauty. Taken from four separate images by Mark Dennis.
‘Long-tailed Ducks’, 8 x 10 inch watercolour pencil on 90 lb watercolour paper.
Cedar Waxwings are commonly seen here, and are present all year round, although more common in Spring/Summer than the other species, Bohemian Waxwing. A flock visiting our flowering crab apple trees in May were a real spring sight.
‘A Promise of Spring’, 10 x 13 inch, watercolour pencil on 140 lb watercolour paper.
Common (or Eurasian) Kingfishers are the only kingfisher species found in the UK. Usually solitary, and surprisingly hard to see, they do pair up in the breeding season. In this breeding pair, the female bird is the one on the right, characterised by her orangy-red lower mandible.
‘Amongst the Bulrushes’, Common Kingfishers, 8 x 10 inch watercolour pencil on 140 lb cold press watercolour paper.
The Gyrfalcon, an arctic bird that occasionally comes south, is a rarity in Nova Scotia. This bird spent a good hunk of February in Joggins, on the edge of the Cumberland basin.
‘Gyrfalcon at Joggins’, 8 x10 inch, watercolour pencil on 90 lb watercolour paper.
Turkey Vultures are now common in our part of Nova Scotia and present all year round.
‘Talking Turkey’, 10 x 13 inch watercolour pencil on 140 lb watercolour paper.
A scarce migrant in this part of Nova Scotia, male Scarlet Tanager.
‘Scarlet Tanager’, 8 x 10 inch watercolour pencil on 140 lb cold press watercolour pencil.
A scarce breeding bird, and always a treat to see, Great Horned Owl.
‘Hoo’s Looking at Who?’, 8 x 10 inch watercolour pencil on 140 lb cold press watercolour paper.
Atlantic Puffins breed on offshore islands.
‘An Improbability of Puffins’, 8x 10 inch, watercolour pencil on 140 lb cold press watercolour paper.
The Prothonotary Warbler is a vagrant warbler, seen annually in Nova Scotia.
‘Prothonotary Warbler’, 8 x 10 inch watercolour pencil on 140 ln cold press watercolour paper.
Cape Sable Island and adjacent beaches are host to Atlantic Canada’s only breeding Piping Plovers.
‘Piping Plovers’, 11 x 14 inch watercolour pencil on 140 lb cold press watercolour paper