This drawing was made after one of the best bird experiences I have had in the relatively short time I have been actively seeking out birds. I set off, with my friend and fellow artist Leo Du Feu, on a bright Thursday in January to Dunbar Quarry where we had been told Short Eared Owls had been seen every day for the last couple of months. These incredible, majestic birds are to be found wherever there is a spike in the field vole population. They normally hunt at dawn and dusk. Their large pale wings contrast beautifully with their flat, expressive faces.
Dunbar Quarry is just inland from the coast, south of Dunbar. We’d had a very enjoyable time walking along the coast watching and drawing wading birds. We arrived at the quarry about 3.30 and it was getting pretty cold. A couple of cars were parked up – one with a large lens protruding from its back window; a man was leaning on the other car, binoculars scanning the field in front of him.
Leo and I wandered about a bit aimlessly not quite knowing what to expect. The two cars gave up and we were feeling like it was all a bit hopeless when Leo spotted a large, pale bird flying low across the field, occasionally dipping down into the long grass. A short-eared owl! Despite freezing fingers we spent the next hour gasping in amazement as the first owl was joined by another – at one point they locked talons mid air – and then a third. The magic and majesty of these birds is impossible to describe – I have tried to capture something of this incredible experience of nature at its best in my drawing.