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blue tit

Tapestry of Sound

Saturday, 22nd March 2003, West Yorkshire

sedges by the pondThe variety of bird calls and songs on this sunny afternoon seems as complex as this tangle of grasses and sedges but if you stop and listen for a few minutes you can begin to pull out strands from the tapestry of sounds.

They're all familiar enough but I'm never quite sure which bird makes which sound. By sitting and drawing by the pond I get a chance to see.

A distant motorbike sounds like the deep croak of the frogs.

Garden Birdsong

blue titThere's a high-pitched repeated call of a blue tit singing from the hedge and then from the crab apple. It pauses to scratch under its 'chin' with its right foot.

house sparrowThe house sparrows in the hedge keep up a constant banter of haphazard repeated 'cheeps' : 'Tsee -Y, Tsee-Y, Tsee-Y, Tsee-Y . . .'

blackbirdBlackbirds explode in alarmed indignation.

dunnockThere are loud, jingling bursts of bright song from the dunnock singing from the top of the hedge and from the branches of the crab. It is answered by a rival singing from next door's garden.

long-tailed titA long-tailed tit is fluttering about in the greenhouse and I have to release it. It's a reminder to me to replace the broken pane, which is no doubt where it got in.

chaffinchA pair of chaffinches visit the weeping willow but neither are singing.

Drawing Grasses

sedges by the pondIt's not too difficult to draw the sedges where they are silhouetted against the pond but I get slightly lost amongst the tuft of grass on the right.

On the left it's a bit easier to sort out what is going on because there are withered grass blades that are easy to recognise individually. these help divide the tangle into easily manageable sections so that I can draw each bit separately, as if it was a piece of a jigsaw.

Why put so much effort into drawing a tuft of grass?

If I was interested solely in picture-making then a 'suggestion' of vegetation might be sufficient for the needs of a composition but, to me, the grass is far more important in itself than it might be as an element in a picture. It certainly is when I'm doing this kind of drawing.

Besides I'm aiming to improve my ability to observe nature and also to try and improve my ability to draw all sort of curves and shapes. I wouldn't achieve that if I just made 'suggestions' of grass in a drawing.


Richard Bell