Living in the cool cloud forests around Machu Picchu in Peru is the Andean Cock-of-the-Rock (Rupicola peruviana), undoubtedly one of the planet’s most remarkable birds. The luminous males perform at a display site (lek) where tan-plumaged females come to select their preferred breeding partner. Digital painting (2019).
My current approach to painting is to simplify detail and render birds in the ‘ligné claire’ style pioneered by Hergé (aka. Georges Remi) the Belgian creator of ‘The Adventures of Tintin’. ‘Shy Albatross Cruising’ – inspired by ‘The Great Wave off Kanagawa’ woodblock print by Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai (ca. 1830). ‘Wheatfield with Cape Crows’ … Read moreLigné Claire – Clear Line
Common Tern (Sterna hirundo), non-breeding plumage. On a warm and breezy December morning, Jennifer McKenzie of the Hermanus Animal Hospital was walking along the Vermont coastal path when her eye was caught by the wing of a bird lying on the tideline among the pebbles and shells. Closer investigation revealed the sun-bleached corpse of a … Read moreA Tern on the Tide
Torrent Duck (pair, male on left), Merganetta armata armata, Chile. Ducks, it has to be said, may not be the most interesting of birds. With a few exceptions they are all rather alike in general body shape and behaviour, generally conforming to the familiar visage of a farmyard duck (this being a descendent of the … Read moreWhite-water-fowl
A column of army ants are crossing the path as we enter a clearing where a giant forest tree has fallen. The small gap in the canopy is flooded with light and dozens of small yellow butterflies are dancing above the luxuriant growth of ferns and large-leaved pioneers. A family of capuchin monkeys are working their … Read moreMy Brush with Royalty
Over the years, I have created hundreds of small watercolour illustrations of birds and other wildlife. Sometime last year, I had the idea to bring a selection of them together in a meaningful way by creating a large A1 design that celebrates the splendid diversity of Africa’s birds. This project proved to be a much … Read moreArt Print – Birds of Africa – Now Available
Over the past few years I have created hundreds of watercolour illustrations of African birds. Many of these – as well as dozens of newly prepared illustrations – are being assembled for my next publication – a large poster that celebrates the diversity of Africa’s birds. At least one member of each of Africa’s 142 … Read moreComing Soon – Birds of Africa – art print
Anyone who has spent time walking through mountain fynbos in the south-western Cape will know that birds, of any kind, are few and far between. It’s actually quite startling just how few birds – or other vertebrates – inhabit what is widely known as one of the most diverse floral kingdoms on the planet. Nectarivores … Read moreWoodpeckers that don’t Peck Wood
For more years than I care to remember, the Painted Snipe was my number one ‘bogey bird’ – no matter where I travelled, I never happened upon one of these unusual wetland dwellers. True, it is a shy skulker, but if you are patient and look in the right places (swamps, in this case) you … Read morePainted Snipe
For those of us who find birds compelling, fascinating, worth chasing, or taking a photograph of, the first contact we have is invariably with a common bird seen outside the kitchen window. In my case, I have vivid recollections of backyard birds in the English garden that I grew up in: Blackbird, Blue Tit, Goldfinch … Read moreGarden Birds . . . a new book.
When I set up this blog a few years ago, I thought I’d be smart and come up with a cute wordplay for the title, thinking that I might even produce a book with this name (using the better material) one fine day . . . So, the popular phrase ‘Never a Dull Moment’ inspired … Read moreIt’s Happened … a Gull Moment!
There are very few birds to be seen around our new home in the Hermanus suburb of Westcliff. Gangs of inquisitive Common Starlings inspect the gutters, a pair of Southern Fiscal use the wi-fi dish as a perch and Red-eyed Doves call mournfully from the bare rooftop. It’s a small stand, and I’ve stripped out … Read moreThe Sounds of silens, Sigelus silens.
It is mid March in Gujurat. The dry, teak woodlands are coated with dust and papery, plate-sized leaves have formed a brittle carpet on the floor of the Gir forest. With midday temperatures peaking in the high thirties, trees are rapidly shedding their old leaves, yet at the same time bursting into flower. Parakeets and … Read moreIndia’s Avian Glitterball
Every night, just before bed, I take Josie out into the small park opposite our house where she sniffs around and has a pee. Last night we were joined by a moon-white Barn Owl that circled low above us, seemingly intrigued by the pale-coated Labrador in the torch beam . It’s always such a thrill … Read moreNight Moves
Rufous-tailed Scrub-Robin (well, not the bird exactly, but its perch), Zeekoeivlei, Cape Town Picture the scene. A disorientated man somehow boards the wrong aeroplane and ends up at an airport in a foreign country. He cannot speak the language, he’s wearing unusual clothes and he has lost his passport and wallet. As this odd and … Read moreDipping Out on the Big Twitch
A couple of months ago, I would hardly have known the difference between an albatross and an armadillo. Well, that’s not entirely true, I’ve been used to skipping impatiently past the albatross plates in my field guides for the past 30 years as my dry-land birding in grassland, savanna and forest offered little prospect of … Read moreAlbatross astern!
During the first few months of this year, I spent quite a bit of time observing shorebirds along our little part of the coastline in Hermanus, and further afield at De Mond, Velddrift and Langebaan. Having been able to closely observe the Common Whimbrel along the rocky shore, I was keen to track down its … Read moreSeen from the Shore
I was well into my forties before I got to see a wild toucan, but this first encounter wasn’t quite the thrilling ‘seek-pursue-and-find’ moment that quickens the heart of a birdwatcher. It was May 2003 and we’d crossed the Atlantic from Johannesburg to Atlanta, Georgia – an unavoidable overnight stop in the USA on route to Costa … Read moreToucan Time