Saturday, June 06, 2009

Herons, coots and goslings - grooming, housekeeping and babysitting

Coot Nest in Victoria Park
pencil and coloured pencils in Moleskine sketchbook
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

On Thursday I decided to take my sketchercise in the early morning and headed out for the walk up the Regents Canal to the Ecology Park Ponds and Victoria Park.

I was waylaid by some very demanding red poppies in the meadow grass of the Art Park but arrived at the Ecology Pavilion Roof at the same time as the heron arrived at Heron Bridge. Below you can see my photo of the heron coming into land on the bridge - he never gives me much warning and I was lucky to get this!

Bert comes into land on Heron Bridge
photo copyright Katherine Tyrrell

I'm afraid I have a habit of giving names to animals and birds that I see often. This Grey Heron has been named Herbert the Heron - or "Bert" for short. I think it's the same heron I see each time but I could be wrong.

He then proceeded to give himself an all over groom - all the time standing on one leg!

Bert takes personal grooming very seriously pencil in sketchbook
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

It took a couple of minutes for me to realise that this was going to take some time and that I could try sketching him as he changed posture - so I did - and you can see the results on the right.

I found when watching him that he had a number of standard moves - and a lot of it depended on how he held his neck and whether or not it was folded or in twisting mode

Tomorrow I'll post the drawing I did inbetween his changes of posture.

The second drawing (top) is of the coot nest which is right next to the Pavilion Cafe in Victoria Park. I can sit with my cup of tea on one of the outside benches and sketch this little family which are only about ten feet away. The most difficult bit was trying to work out how the ripples worked as the Mum and Dad busied themselves with housework and looking after the nest - which was of course now needs an extension as their kids are growing up fast and now need more room.

I love the way coots seem to find the largest things to put between their beaks so they can add it to their nest on the water. They are the soldier ants of the water birds!

Greylag Geese Goslings with Mum and Dad
photo copyright Katherine Tyrrell

Finally, a photo of the other group of birds which I've grown very fond of in the last few weeks and that's the greylag geese families which live in Victoria Park. The Mums and Dads are most attentive and are often found standing around their brood on one leg, while the babes have a quiet snooze. I think this brood outgrew their nest a while ago!

My Sketchercise totals for Thursday were 7,548 steps or 3.57 miles

Links: Ecology Park Pond project plus RSPB links to each bird


  1. For anyone to be able to draw bird in motion seems a miracle to me. And Bert in motion is a joy.

  2. I do love the series of Bert grooming. Delightful. Lovely photo of the Geese family too, Katherine. Birds are becoming such a passion for me.

    I came back from Hiroshige wanting to draw raptors and could not believe the kindness of fate when I met an incredible group on display for the medieval festival here!

  3. This is so sweet - 1 enjoyed your sketches and thoughts so much!


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