Online exhibition of original crow drawings
Outtakes and observations
All told, I had about six weeks of chasing our feathery friends around from when the project got the green light to my final week of drawing. I've learned a lot about the local crows which is great and there are some sites I'll definitely be returning to. As always though when working with wild creatures, not everything goes according to plan every time and so here's some of the not-quite moments along with a few crow facts. I'll be doing longer pieces about corvids on my blog in the coming months so make sure you're signed up to that.
There is something about crows - fiercely intelligent, social, playful, they are charismatic birds and yet there is often a touch of the ridiculous too :) They are also buggers to catch on camera as they watch you back and so the minute they spot you are paying attention, either sit and stare back or immediately vanish so half the battle is getting them used to you. In my search for corvids for the show, I've found a couple of places where that's going to take longer -more on that on the spotters guide and sites page, but there are also places they are support fed by humans which is where peanuts came into it...
Lots of peanuts! They are not only popular with the birds but they are a healthy option, containing protein, fat and so on so a much better offering than human food like bread and chips which frankly we know aren't great for us either. Did I mention they like peanuts?
A lot of time was spent pointing my camera at a likely spot and hoping one would oblige before my arms gave out. Sometimes that meant aiming at a perched bird hoping to catch the moment it took off (normally getting the moment just after) but I spent a lot of time apparently filming empty lampposts and so on the to puzzlement of local dog walkers, in case one landed. The birds are so fast with that powerful push to get airborne that you often have just a fraction of a second to hit the button after seeing them bunch up in preparation.
A routine conversation after a shoot would involve such analysis as 'how many bums did you get today then?' 'Oh, about 350.' 'Not bad then.' Sometimes of course they would come in but in entirely the wrong spot and then it's a case of talk amongst yourselves until it decides to move. In case you're wondering why I wouldn't go round the other side myself, I have a compact superzoom camera which is great for just taking everywhere but gets lens flare if I point it into the sun (those pink spots etc you see on images sometimes).
Of course, living by the coast means that you don't just get crows turning up, especially if it's somewhere that the local birds know there is likely to be a free lunch so I also got a lot of images of things that are not crows.
One of the most endearing things about crows is that there's often something very human, very identifiable in the way they move and do things so here's a personal favourite, this little chap looking for all the world as if he's just checking he remembered to put his trousers on that morning...