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blue tit

Tapestry of Sound

Saturday, 23rd 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. 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 from 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 go and 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 trying to sort out the individual blades of grass in the tuft on the right. It's like trying to draw a plate of spaghetti.

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 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 clump of pond edge grasses and sedges?

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 more fascinating in its own right. It's value as an element in a picture doesn't interest me so much.

Besides, I'm aiming to improve my ability to observe nature and trying to improve my ability to draw all curves and shapes. I wouldn't achieve that if I just made vague “suggestions” to represent grass in a drawing. next page


Richard Bell