Friday, 1 February 2013

Border skirmish

I've been screenprinting using drawings of Ringed Plovers from last year. I made my sketches last Spring as I was waiting for eider ducks to come ashore on Oronsay. As I watched the beach I was aware of an urgent, insistent calling. I picked out three Ringed Plovers, camouflaged amongst the seaweed, but none of them were moving their bills. They were spread out strategically across the beach like mini masked marauders, but if this was a border skirmish, there should have been a fourth bird. After twenty minutes of scanning I was beginning to think the plovers were ventriloquists. Every time I started to draw, the noise would start up again, but the tiny bandits continued their border patrol with beaks closed.

Sketch made in the field

Eventually, almost under my nose, I spotted it. The fourth bird was digging a nest scrape, chest on the ground and legs whirring away, flinging out sand and pebbles behind it. And every time it did so it called frantically. As its mate approached, it fanned its tail and postured. The female looked unimpressed. With a flurry of piping the male goose-stepped alongside her, more militia than marauder. As his calling reached a crescendo he seemed to convince himself, or maybe her, and fluttered onto her back to mate.

Screenprint made in the studio, edition of 5.

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