Friday, 10 February 2012


I'm lucky enough this week to be walking and watching along the banks of the River Tweed, learning about all sorts of wildlife on or near the water that I don't normally see.  

Swan, skeins of Canada and Greylag Geese fly above and Goosander show off their swimming expertise and disappear and reappear with efficient ease.

Pencil sketch of an Oystercatcher by Jennifer Tetlow

The sounds of the river are so different too, the gurgle of such a mass of water passing by and the bird calls.  One of the most startling and lovely voices comes from the Oystercatcher, a shrill penetrating 'kleep' which lets you know they are about, and then you see them flying low over the water and landing on the river bank.  It seems over recent years Oystercatcher numbers have increased as they have expanded into new breeding habitats.  Once they were confined to shores and cliff-tops, but a habit of nesting inland, where they now breed on moorland, arable fields and on riverside shingle beds, has seen a significant spread.

They return here from the coast, usually in late January or early February and are said to put on what is called a 'piping performance' - groups of birds form circles and run up and down, pointing their bills at the ground and piping out their shrill call.  I'm not sure if it is known why they do this, but it alerts other groups of Oystercatchers to do the same.  I haven't seen it yet, but I'm keeping my eyes open.

While I sat sketching I saw an otter swim up river too, but no time to catch an image of him, too excited and dare not take my eyes off the ripples and silky body.


  1. Jennifer, what a beautiful drawing of the oyster catcher. We get so many wonderful birds here in Florida as well...herons, egrets, ibis, pelicans, anhinga, and is one of the things I love about this area. Your drawings are just exquisite!

    1. Thanks Betsy - I would love to be seeing ibis and pelicans (never heard of anhinga, will have to look it up!). Getting to know the local wildlife does very much make you feel a closer attachment to a place I think.


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