While the Nottinghamshire bee-eaters are drawing a crowd, one artist is turning his artistic talents to depicting these beautiful birds in paint.

Celebrated wildlife artist Darren Woodhead, friend of the RSPB, was invited to make studies of the birds. Having driven down from Scotland (on his birthday!) he was given special access to the quarry car park by CEMEX. Work was carrying on around him as he painted the resident bee-eaters, his faithful dog Inca by his side (she was more interested in the butterflies than the birds!). I caught up with him to find out what it’s like painting these colourful subjects.

Darren Woodhead, artist

“How cool is it to have them in the UK? They’re really, really smart,” says Darren, paintbrush in hand, peering through his scope at the bee-eaters, perched in their favourite tree. “That combination of blues and oranges is really lovely. Previously in the UK I’ve only ever seen them fly overhead, so this is a new one for me.”

He continues: “All my work is done outside in the field. It’s about getting to know the birds and their characters. They’re lovely when they start to preen – you can get some really nice angles. They watch the aeroplanes fly over, and it’s lovely to see the switch of their heads.”

Darren lives and works just outside Edinburgh, and nature is often his subject of choice. “I’ve just come back from Norway where I was painting great grey owls, and I’ve been working on seabirds quite a bit. But I never thought I’d be painting bee-eaters this summer!”

You’ll have the chance to win a bee-eater print, created by Darren, at BirdFair 2017.

Artist Darren Woodhead talks about his experience painting the Nottinghamshire bee-eaters.

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