Friday, June 03, 2011

Coots at Kew

On the 1st June we went to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew for the day - and the sun shone. 

We followed our normal routine of walk and then sit - I sketch and "he who must not be bored while I sketch" reads his book and then walk and more sitting/sketching/reading.

He's currently limbering up for retirement next month so was reading a detective novel rather than one of his heavyweight history biographies which are his normal fare.

We sat on "our seat" next to the lake and were visited agin by "our goose" who is very cheeky.

He's got looking at you with Big Eyes off pat.  You know the look - the one that says "Surely you can spare just a little bit of that Taste the Difference Big Breakfast sandwich you've just bought at the Tescos outside the station" look.

It's not so much I have a hard heart as I enjoy my Big Breakfast sandwich and he was about five minutes too late and all I had left was an empty carton and some apples.

Anybody who wants to be overwhelmed by geese flying straight at them should bring bread to Kew Gardens.  On the way home we saw a Mummy and Daddy Goose and a family of four little ones scampering (hurtling?) across the grass to a woman who was showing every sign of getting something out of a plastic bag to feed birds.  The adults had to restrain themselves from taking off they were going so fast.

Coots nesting on the lake at Kew Gardens
pen and sepia ink and coloured pencils in Moleskine sketchbook, 8" a 10"
copyright Katherine Tyrrell
My first sketch done next to the Lake was of a pair of Coots who were heavily into nest building.  My attention was attracted by a weird tearing noise.  I realised after a bit that the male coot was visiting the iris planted just next to where I sat and was tearing off leaves to act as nest material.  He then swam very deliberately around the naples yellow weed patches to his mate who was sat on their nest resplendent in her new "just in" iris leaf finery.

I assume she was hatching eggs as she was very loath to leave the nest - although I would have thought any babies would have been born long ago.  Maybe they do year round hatching?

The lake water was interesting to try and capture due to the many different colours of weed, submerged weed, reflections from the far bank and the inky darkness of the lake itself.

The next sketch - which I don't have time to scan right now - is a diptych of the view from the Thames of Syon house and the bend in the River Thames.  It's been painted by quite a few artists and I want to take a look at the history of the view.


  1. Terrific patterns in the reeds, Katherine. How gorgeous it must be to sit and enjoy Kew.

  2. Just found your blog from Lyn's Everday blog - so glad you managed to get your sketchbook back which you'd left in Tate Britain! I will certainly look in again at your sketches!
    Margaret P

  3. I remember taking my children for a picnic at Stourhead and being attacked by two swans who thought our picnic was just for them. We ended up standing on a bench eating!
    Lovely sketch! I envy you Kew!

  4. What a great use of all the different mediums. A fresh, enchanting sketch.


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