mandag 6. april 2015

The making of a Black Grouse (and a book cover)

So, a very long-lasting project is entering it's final stage. Me and Bjørn Olav Tveit (Ørn Forlag) have been working on a book for at least four years now. It has never been our number one priority, since we both have a lot of other responsibilities, but we've manage to keep some kind of momentum, and it looks like the book will be published this autumn.
I didn't imagine that I would ever be a part of making a book for hunters, since I've never hunted in my life, but when Bjørn asked me if I would illustrate an identification guide for hunters, I gradually became interested. Our main object with this book, is to help responsible hunters reduce their chances of shooting protected species. We are both birdwatchers, so it was natural for us to focus on small game, and birds in particular. We deal with mammals up to the size of Wild Boar, but there are not as many "confusion" species here as with the birds, so the number of mammal illustrations is relatively small.
It has been an interesting process, and I'm looking forward to seeing the final result in not too many months. The video in this post describes the making of the front cover, and the wolf is the latest illustration I made for the book. It is a young wolf, most likely to be confused with a dog, or even a fox (!), for the very unexperienced hunter. The wolf is a protected species in Norway, but every now and then they are unfortunately shot, sometimes by hunters claiming they mistook it for a fox or something else.

mandag 27. oktober 2014


This kestrel was sitting close to the road at Jæren on a spring day a few years back. I am looking forward to a time when I get to travel to those parts of Norway on a more regular basis. The southwest offers the best birdwatching in the country, by far. And I'm not biased, of course.

søndag 26. oktober 2014

Acrylic selfie

We've held a painting course at work again, this time I tried to paint myself in the mirror. I think I've managed to capture my evil side rather well. Not used to acrylics at all, after three attempts, but fun to work with. The main frustration is that the colours dry too fast, but I guess you can mix them with some kind of retarder? One day, when I have more space at home, I'll make place for a canvas every now and then....

søndag 21. september 2014

Blackpoll Warbler

Now is the time when birdwatchers gather on the islands in the west and north of Norway. The Yellow-browed Warblers are gradually increasing in numbers, but they are looking for the really hard stuff, like the Blackpoll Warbler below. This species has only been found twice in Norway, and surely it's about time again that this one or one of the other new world warblers appear here.

mandag 21. juli 2014

Waders on the move

Nothing much like autumn up north for the time being, but in spite of temperatures of around 30 degrees in most of the country, the adult waders have started migrating. I spent a few days at Mølen last week, and saw Knots, Curlew Sandpiper, Bar-tailed Godwits, Wood Sandpiper, Golden Plovers and Whimbrels. I managed a short sketch of the latter. The Red-crested Pochard is a request from a friend, and the first-year Grey Plover is commissioned work.

mandag 19. mai 2014

Great Grey Owl

Good things are worth waiting for. Yesterday, a 40 year old dream came through, when I finally got to see a wild Great Grey Owl in Norwegian nature. The opportunity came with the sudden growth of a population in Hedmark, just two hours north of Oslo. Just a decade ago, this huge owl was considered a regular, though extremely rare resident only in the far north of Norway, in Finnmark. Things have changed, and rumours have it that more than 40 pairs are now breeding in Hedmark.
Even though we weren't too close to the nest, and the birds seemed very comfortable with us there, we didn't want to stay for to long, and I only had time for a few short sketches.

tirsdag 6. mai 2014

Eilat 3

A few more birds from the Eilat sketchbook. The abundance of Yellow Wagtails (gulerle) around the Yotvata sewage ponds held us there for a long time on our first visit to the place. There were several subspecies present, but feldegg was by far the most common. Two Citrine Wagtails (sitronerle) were also present, a male and a female, and I had a chance to sketch the male. The bird is impossibly yellow! I sat there trying to mix the right colour, all the time thinking "surely, it can't be this bright?" As it turned out, I didn't get it bright enough.
Shrikes, on the other hand, were not abundant, although both Woodchat (rødhodevarsler) and Masked Shrikes (hvitpannevarsler) were fairly common. Shrikes are among the cooperative birds for a field sketcher, and the female below sat in more or less the same pose for as long as it took to draw it. I haven't done much investigation into sub-species of Woodchat Shrike, but as far as I can understand, the bird in the sketch is probably an Eastern WS (Lanius senator niloticus), the most striking features being the complete lack of black on the forehead (apparently quite frequent in niloticus) and the large patch of white at the base of the primaries. By the way, it was surrounded by 3-4 Isabelline Wheatears (isabellasteinskvett). A nice place to spend a little time!
The Yotvata circular fields was one of the places we returned to quite often during our stay, not at least because of the good chances of studying migrating and hunting harriers. At one time, we had female Hen, Pallid and Montagu's hunting around us at the same time - what better way to learn a thing or two about harrier ID? Also present on the fields were a few Collared Pratincoles (brakksvale), not at all scared of Norwegians. They were heavily photographed by people with camouflage dresses and very, very long lenses. One guy spent most of his time lying flat on the ground, shoving his enormous equipment in front of him. After a while, he stopped moving for a long time, and we became worried that he had perished from a heart attack under the sheer excitement, but eventually he stood up and walked away. Maybe he just fell asleep there for a while.