Glossy Ibis, Borth
A keen Easterly wind brings cold air on a clear day, the temperature stays sub-zero. A Glossy Ibis found in a waterlogged paddock, picking through dark clods of earth churned up, almost ploughed up by the horses hooves. It has stayed loyal to this spot all week, sharing it with jackdaws and gulls, though it gets the juiciest worms by wrestling its bill deep below the permafrost. It uses its bill with great agility, not least when overcoming the problem of getting a worm grasped with the tip all the way down into its mouth, by throwing and snapping at the prey mid air, or when it senses something in the ground, twisting and pushing to drive the bill onto the prey.
The colours on this bird are a challenge to paint, far from being black its wings are an iridescent oily rainbow of teal, crimson purples and blues, whilst the body is a dark rich burgundy brown that lightens towards the head which becomes streaked with pin lined feathers. Bill and legs are almost peach in some light and the skin around the eyes a contrasting cool blue. I try many colour combinations over the two days, always limited and settle on an unusual palette of UM (gs), IR, BU, (RU). The subtle changes of iridescence helped by the constantly moving, freezing and reticulating pigments of watercolour on the page. An addictive way of painting brought on by an unusual bird in unusual conditions over the last two days.