Female Hen Harriers

Clyde-Muirshiel Country Park

Sketch of female Hen Harrier on nest - 33Kb

Drawing of 2005 female Hen Harrier on nest

The Clyde-Muirshiel Hen Harrier Project has a remote camera within the nest, the activity being viewed in the Visitor's Centre of the Country Park.
Unusually for the Spectrus website, these sketches are drawn from a viewing monitor, which presents unexpected problems, as the clarity of the picture is good enough for live viewing, but currently lacking crispness of detail for my drawing purposes.
The problem for the artist with the eye on the screen is the temptation to draw more slowly, rather than at full speed in the same way as when drawing directly from 'reality'. The urgency of the drawing is what gives flow to the pencil.

Female at nest, 2005

The bird left the nest briefly, returning in a different position.
This doesn't mean that it's an unfinished drawing, but rather a glimpse of economic line.

Hen Harrier sketch: 10Kb
Sketches of Hen Harrier heads in profile - 12Kb

Improving Quality

"Suddenly, I am aware of her skull form, and her spine within her body".
Notice the continuously flowing line in these drawings. This is a result of observation at speed.

Sketch of female Hen Harrier on nest - 20Kb

Sketch of Cleopatra

During the moments of this drawing's 'happening', the RSPB project officer, Lucy Moor and I decided to name this hen 'Cleopatra', because of her distinctive eye marking.
I also decided that from this drawing, I would attempt my first painting of the bird.

Painting of female Hen Harrier on nest - 56Kb

First painted study of 'Cleopatra'

The medium is acrylic on board.
The golden shapes are of a fragmented Celtic Knot form, inspired by the shape of the bracken behind the bird and the lines of nest material.
The female of the species, as you can now see, has a speckled brown, cream and white plumage. This is for camouflage purposes, as her role is to sit tight on the nest while the more conspicuously-coloured male (as you will see later), hunts for food and brings it to her.

All text and images copyright © Duncan M Watt 2006
Site designed by Liz Leyden

Contact duncan@spectrus.co.uk