Curlew at Saltholme


I’ve spent the last few Sunday afternoons at our local RSPB-NR at Saltholme watching Curlews feeding on the flats. The human visitors can become very noisy, so I wait until the very last hour before visiting knowing I’ll be virtually alone.

There’s a painting in my head composed of a flock of Curlew taking to flight, or could be landing. I doubt I’ll ever get close enough to take decent reference shots to make it work. This was a stab at what I imagined, with not one, but hundreds of birds coming into the landscape.


20 Replies to “Curlew at Saltholme”

  1. You never know, you just might get the shot you are hoping for.
    I can already seem them in my mind in the furthest right of your painting. The one here is the leader of the pack of 100’s behind it.
    You have done an outstanding job of this painting. I love the way you have rendered the Curlew in wide open space, looking as free as they ought to be.

    1. Thank you Debbie, I’m going to build a portfolio of images, then try and create the composition through a series of sketches. Your spot on though, finding space is the key. This particular painting lost its way a little, but I still had fun.

  2. Thanks for the timely reminder, I’m 45 miles from the sea with nothing but fields at the back of the house. The Curlews will soon be staking their nesting territory and their call along with Coltsfoots flowering is my Spring is arriving clock, the reason I like your Blog is not only do you have to see you have to interpret which is a quality the camera doesn’t have, thanks Danny

    1. Thanks Danny (Teddy). I follow the Curlew in winter from the coast up to Moor House in Upper Teesdale, where I’m a volunteer ranger for Natural England. Come the spring, the reserve is filled with the sound of Lapwings, Curlew, Golden Plover, Snipe and just about every other wader. Spring ice flowers also thrive on the reserve, spring gentian, birdseye primrose and mountain pansies top of my quarry. Thanks again for your kind words.

    1. Thank you Val. The reference for this shot was (borrowed) from an online resource. However, the images of wings folding and landing gear undercarriage are more difficult to locate. I’ve asked my wife (nicely) if I can have a new camera with a decent telescopic lens. I received the short answer!

  3. I love this. I saw it on my phone earlier and my reaction was, oooooooooooh! 🙂 Love the idea you have planned for more birds, but this sketch / painting is a gem on it’s own. I know that in photography negative space is often a powerful tool. I see it works so well here as well. The open space with the gentle upswept blue draws the eys right where it should be, to the curlew!

  4. This is awesome, Keith! I love how the bird is just entering the plane of the painting! Nice touch! The wide open space of sky does not bother me but makes this ever-so-much more a statement of your anticipation to capture these birds. Nice portrait of that bird, by the way! Lots of change going on over here! Love that!

  5. Oh I so enjoyed this picture and your thoughts. I used to attempt to find space and time when all the crowds were away to feel the silence and enjoy the waves.
    Thank you for sharing

    I had a computer crash and lost your site…glad you commented on Absurd Old Bird so I could get back

    Posting a picture of ZIP on the 21st post at Patricias Wisdom. He is truly growing

    1. Good to have you back Patricia. I’ve been on a slight sabbatical myself, although things are getting back to normal (I hope). Looking forward to seeing Zip. I’ll let Doris know! Thanks again for your kind words.

  6. this composition is fantastic. I love how you have the curlew entering the viewer’s eye. More Curlew’s please.

    I may try and go see the sketchbook exhibit this week. You never told me your last name!

  7. It’s beautiful – I like how the curlew is gliding into the picture & without anthing else except for how you’ve positioned it in the sky there’s the feeling that it’s about to start coming down to land & I start inventing the rest!

    1. Well you read it right Sonya. It was far easier to paint one Curlew and leave the rest to the imagination. I’ve been trying to compose a much large composition, but I’m afraid it’s failing miserably 😦 Thanks again for your kind comments. Cheques in the post 🙂

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