The Coot, Fulica atra, the dark waterbird.
Coming back from holiday always takes a bit readjustment and I am well behind in my various projects. I didn’t get any sketching done in Amsterdam so output was low but input very high.
The Museums, bars, canals markets, food and people were so much fun and so interesting, even in the rain, that we are going back in the autumn.
However it was my turn over on Beautiful Beasts last week and after seeing a feisty coot on one of the canals I decided to do some coot sketches. You can read more about these sketches on Beautiful Beasts: see Canal Coot and A Cute…ah no….a Coot Chick.
Near the Rijksmuseum, sections of the canal have been planted with nesting platforms of water plants, just a few feet from the bank. This small coot was very busy chasing anything and everything, including us, away from her nest which contained at least one not-very-pretty little chick.
Her ugly baby
But I am very fond of coot and see them all the time round the reservoir. I had made this sketch of one of our local birds last year.
It’s also also given me the opportunity to finish a trial scraperboard of a coot chick which I had started some years ago.
Scraperboard on the desk..
Scraperboard 4 x 5 inches
In reality the very small chicks are odd looking, with their red/orange bald head and a halo of yellow feathers. They lose these quite quickly. The characteristic white shield of the adult bird, which gives rise to the old saying “as bald as a coot” takes about a year to develop.
Coot are comical and very attractive. I am fascinated by their feet. I am planning a print.:)
I am nearly back to my own work, it’s just been very busy with 4 very enjoyable drawing and painting Workshops and getting ready for Louth’s Festival of the Bees tomorrow. I will be there with the Buzz paintings and talking about bees and flowers etc.
It’s an excellent week with speakers and exhibitors and I really hope that everyone who can, will go along and support all the hard work put in by Biff Vernon and the organisers.
Listening to the report on our diminishing wildlife today just reinforces how important it is for us all to do a little bit to plant more bee friendly flowers, keep a little bit of wild garden for hedgehogs and birds and to stop killing things.
David Attenborough talked about our “extraordinary expertise in destroying and poisoning things” and I watch my neighbour spray and dig in order to obliterate every weed or disorderly plant in order to maintain the depressingly uniform bright green “lawn”. I guess the tarmac will be along soon.
We who care think the message is getting across because we generally talk to each other. “Everyone knows about the bees” my friends tell me but that is just not true and there are acres and acres of the self obsessed, the ignorant and uncaring. However we keep going, trying to inform without preaching and I keep talking bees to anyone who has ears to listen and a few of those who don’t.
Little Big Feet Meanwhile there are coot in the lane and of course on the reservoir. They are delightful and potter about near the stream on their enormous feet. I don’t think they are endangered. It’s on my list for a “good” painting …meanwhile a sketch…
Coot in the Lane, Grafham watercolour