A Gift


Watercolour | 21″ x 44″

In the spring activity among the reeds increases as water birds busy themselves with the activity of raising a family. Coots and moorhens like to build their nests among last year’s reeds, using the verticals to support their twiggy platforms of plant vegetation. Once built and their eggs laid, they gradually become invisible to predators as the new spring growth rises up around them.

I like to watch this behaviour over a number of weeks near to where I live. Some nests are started and quickly abandoned; some are started in seemingly ridiculous positions too close to the bank and then abandoned; but some thankfully get it right and progress to the laying of and sitting on eggs. The failures bring home to me the frailty and yet the resilience of the life balance going on around us all the time.

Moorhens will often come back to the same mate year after year although outside the breeding season they live solitary lives. When they come together they work to build and defend their scruffy looking nests. While they are usually timid birds they often defend their nests aggressively.

I decided on the title of my painting, ’A Gift’, as it is an activity I watch over and again. The simple act of the pair working together, foraging for vegetation, gifting it to the partner and building the nest, secures the future generation. In my painting the male bird is passing vegetation to the female on the nest.

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