Monday, 23 May 2016

Island Paradise


For many years now I have been meaning to visit Skomer, one of the islands off of the beautiful Pembrokeshire coastline. It is a national nature reserve and one of the most important breeding sites of sea birds in Europe,with the largest breeding population of Manx Shearwaters in the world. You have to be on the island at night to see them though as they hide all day in their burrows safe underground. 
I attempted to get onto the island about 3 years ago but we got there too late to board the boat and so could only have a boat ride around the island. There is a limit to the number of people allowed onto the island each day, a good thing of course. This time we left home at 5am as its a 2 hour drive away and we got there eagerly early to get our tickets. 


We got onto Skomer at 10am and set out to explore the rugged island in the spring sunshine. On the northern side the bluebells were so impressive, just a hazy wash of warm blue in all directions. I've never seen so many before. Then further on, the burrows of the seabirds pitted the ground and the starry sea campion grew in such profusion all around the little holes. At The Wick was a large Puffin colony, there were a few there posing for us. They are such beautiful, entertaining characters and so small. It felt like a privilege to be able to be there to watch, photo and sketch them. 







On the cliffs Kittiwakes, Guillemots and Razorbills are busy building nests in the crevices of  these ancient rocks. If you are lucky you may see the rarer Choughs but not this time for me.


 This island also has an interesting history with archaeological evidence suggesting that there was an Iron Age farming community of up to 200 people here.
I highly recommend a visit to Skomer for all nature lovers. I had such a wonderful time that I am already planning a longer stay on the islands.

Thrift along the cliff tops


I've now added a couple of puffin doodles, the left one is painted with Derwent Inktense blocks which I used with a paintbrush. The right hand one is in watercolours.

Other news with me is that I have found a new love for painting in oils. I have just completed 2 bird oil paintings and am planning to do a puffin inspired by my trip to Skomer.

Merlin Falcon
Little Owl
    
I have also completed the Oak Woods 2 painting , a very large 71 cms x 49 cms. I counted 70 individual species on it! But some are depicted more than once through the seasons, in different growth stages.