The female blue tit pops out of the nest box on the house wall next door and comes to our bird table a few yards away, where the male is waiting to feed her. She begs for food like a chick, flicking her wings impatiently. The male has a perkier looking blue crest on his head. The female looks rather crestfallen and worn, as if the business of incubating is taking it out of her. She flies off for a brief break down the garden after taking what seems no more than a ritual beakful of food from the male.
I'm not sure if there are chicks in the nest yet. Later I see the male perched on a plant at the back of the herb bed. He appears to drop a white faecal sack from his beak, so perhaps they do have young now. These faecal sacks are the bird equivalent of the disposable nappy (U.S.; diaper). Carrying them away from the nest helps make it less obvious to predators. Although in this case it would be difficult to miss the little bird house screwed onto the expanse of brick wall.
My favourite pen for drawing is a Rotring Art Pen with an extra fine sketch nib. I've got three of them on the go; one containing brown ink, one black and the other black with a fine, rather than extra fine, nib. The majority of the sketches in this diary were done using one or the other of them.
I hadn't realised how long I'd had them; the oldest must be more than ten years old. When you think how many times you'd replace a toothbrush over that period it's surprising that it never occurred to me that it was about time I replaced them.
For a while I've found it increasingly difficult to draw with one of them. Even after a thorough cleaning out I couldn't get the ink to flow. These scans show the reason; the new nib looks like a space shuttle while the old looks like an exhibit from an archaeological museum.
Of course the fountain pen ink that I use in them is soluble so if you add a watercolour wash it runs. Depending on the subject this is less of a problem with the brown than the black. I often use watercolour crayon (applied dry) to finish off a pen and ink sketch. Of course if you're doing a pen and ink and wash sketch you can use this to your advantage, dipping a watercolour brush in clean water and painting over parts of the drawing to turn some of the pen lines into partial tonal washes.