Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Winter Starlings

Screenprint made in the studio, edition of 6.

The first job of a winter's morning on Oronsay is to put out silage as extra food for the cows. There's not a lot a nutrient left in the gale-battered fields, as there's been no strength in the sun for months. Normally a bale-shredder chops and spreads the silage, but when the machine breaks down, the RSPB volunteers have to set to and fork out two massive bales by hand. Nathalie, the assistant warden, looks skinny, but she's much stronger than I am. Her golden hair flies in the wind, the same colour as the silage. I point out this artistic detail to her, but strangely I don't think she's flattered by the comparison.
The spread line of silage avoids jostling, so that even the younger beasts can get to the food. Their feet poach up the ground, knocking out bracken shoots, and allowing any wildflower seeds from the silage to germinate. That's if there are any seeds left over. A flock of starlings descend, squawking and squabbling over the food. Its not just the cows who are being sustained through the winter months.

Sketch made in the field.

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