The photographic resources and sketches for two further paintings are resting on my easels: Snow Leopards – 24 in x 18 in water colour; Blue and Yellow Macaws (Parrots in the Jungle!) – 15″ by 40″ box stretched canvas in oil. But first to the Green Woodys.
’12 0’clock high’: (Green Woodpeckers (Picus viridis), young English Oak (Quercus robur). Code 1301
As you may be aware, I play golf (Bourn, Cambridgeshire) and on 5 March 2013 whilst coming down the 18th fairway, I noticed some green woodpeckers hopping about around a young oak tree. I counted seven! Another dashed passed nearby and the others suddenly looked up (they were feeding on the ant mounds, and one was vertically perched on the small trunk of the oak tree). I suddenly remembered that natural history photographer John Betts had given me permission to use one of his great photographs as a resource (about 4 years ago!), which typified the woodpecker that flew passed in a hurry. I have been working on a composition since, and this is the preliminary sketch.
Two frozen specimens (one from the Golf course which may have been successfully despatched by the resident Sparrowhawk, but was disturbed before it could take it; and one [undamaged] road kill given to me by a friend) are my main resources. They really do have big dinosaur-type feet, the outside two toes are much bigger than the inside two.
Did you know that woodpeckers have three eyelids? Males have an extra red bit under the eye in their moustache, whereas females have an all-black moustache (been there!!) and juveniles, typically, are all ‘spotty’! They also have a rather long, thin, pink tongue.