Choughs and Hooded Crows

I walked up the hill towards Bolus Head. I saw a gull with a totally black back, a greater or lesser black backed I think then the pink of a linnet. Next a black bird with brown, grey back and body of its wings, all the rest black. I couldn’t see its legs. Initially I thought a chough but then reaslised it was a hooded crow!

Bundles of choughs with spiky witches finger wings and red legs and beaks, swooping, dropping down on top of one another, calling out. The sound I heard the first day was undoubtedly a chough. Great tits were making a fuss in a fuchsia bush. Above them what I thought was a gull until I caught sight of the tawny back of a kestrel. More choughs. They soar up and then suddenly close their wings and plummet before taking off and swooping again in groups – all the time making those loud guttural stabbing cries. A gannet flying close to the water, hugging the shoreline, a triplet of gulls. The choughs drop like stones behind the crest of the hill every time they see me looking at them. They swoop straight up and down and hover just above the ground before they land. I am obssesed with their noisiness and their movement. Later in the day I started to work on a big drawing which has elements of the cracked walls from Ballycarbery Castle and a mixture of other sounds and images …

Tumbling choughs
Map reference points
Choughs’ flight
Joining up the dots
Cadences of sound of Irish language – spoken –


6 Responses to “Choughs and Hooded Crows”

  1. perrypatetic Says:

    I love these drawings, both the sketches of birds, and these larger pieces. It’s so stimulating to see how your ideas develop, this wonderful synthesis of sights, sounds and remains.

  2. fiona Says:

    Thank you!

  3. forkhandles Says:

    Yes – see what you mean – these drawings definitely show an expanded awareness….. feels like you’re joining the dots. Less separation, between you and whats out there. Your writing (and your drawings) remind me of the distinction between having a direction and having a destination – the latter is exclusive and limited – the former is inclusive, limitless and open to all possibilities! These birds know nothing of destination and everything of direction – they have no worries, just joy in their birdiness.

  4. forkhandles Says:

    ….feels like these dots that you’re joining are outside AND inside!

  5. fiona Says:

    I really like the idea of having a direction rather than a destination. This work is definitely developing a certain direction which is very interesting but totally open ended. The inside outside thing is something that I have touched on elsewhere, I think. The pencil drawings on this post are very slow and considered and the ideas are internalised. They are of necessity, given the weather, done inside in the studio. Not just the rain but the constant wind too and they are done on large sheets of paper which would be very difficult to both control and protect in those conditions. The sketches in charcoal and conte are very quick responses to things which I see as I move from place to place. They are notes I can use later, reminders of what something looked like and do not require an intellectual engagement on my part. So there is a distinction between what I think of as my outside and my inside drawings, and on more than one level.

  6. fiona Says:

    Good word ‘birdiness’!

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