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Cemlyn Bay, Anglesey, June 2023

This June I returned a second time to the north of Anglesey where I first discovered Cemlyn Bay the year before. This time I was a week later in the season and so was spoilt with an abundance of fluffy chicks which grew fast over the days I was there. The Tern colonies worked tirelessly flying back and forth with fish meals for the young expanding Terns.

'Sandwiched Terns'. 6" x 18" Oil on linen.

This was the first piece I painted upon arriving in the evening. There was a lovely soft light over the scene and I wanted to capture a sense of the busyness of the colony whilst making a study of the Sandwich Terns, hence the name of this piece!

'Terns flying over at Dusk'. Oil on A4 primed paper.

The Tern traffic crossing the bay from the sea to the lagoon and back was constant, I never saw it cease, it continued as I packed up my kit after the sun had set. This study captured the last of the light casting its pink hues on the near clouds.

An assortment of chicks! A4 sketch.

Oystercatcher parent showing chick food. 8"x6", oil on board.

'Oystercatcher covering Chicks'. Oil on board, 8" x 6".

The little chicks pushed their way into the parents plumage in the late evening. The Oystercatcher was puffed up into a ball shape!

Oystercatcher family and neighbouring Tern. A4 sketch.

'Oystercatcher and chicks'. Oil on linen, 6" x 18"

The chicks would explore by themselves but stayed close by.

'Whose Chicks are these?' Oil on linen, 6" x 18". (Reserved for exhibition)

This was a favourite piece from the week. Once the chicks had grown some more over the few days I'd been observing them, they started to form creches and the parent chicks would have to call out for their chick to locate it. If it didn't find it's chick, the Tern flew back to the sea to dip the fish into the water before returning to try again.

'Arctic Terns in the late evening'. Oil on linen, 6" x 18". (Reserved for exhibition)

The Arctic Terns were very striking birds to paint with their red bills and feet. They are smaller than the Sandwich Terns and seemed to occupy the smaller of the two islands in greater numbers though they occupied the line of rocks that extends from the larger island that is dominated by the Sandwich Terns.
Arctic Terns are also known as 'Sea Swallows', they fly all the way from the Antarctica to breed for the summer.

Arctic Terns gathered to preen on the rocks.

'Arctic Tern perched on a Rock'. 8" x 6" Oil on linen.

'Sandwich Tern overhead'. 6" x 8" Oil on board.

I watched this Black headed Gull hunting along the waters edge, there were three brown large chicks nearby sunbathing in a huddle.

'Black headed Gull watching the Water'. 6" x 18" Oil on linen.

Black headed Gull in the lagoon. 8" x 6", oil on board.

'Arctic Tern in the Golden Hour'. 6" x 18" Oil on linen.

This was a piece completed in the studio as I had begun to paint this Tern then abandoned it to start another piece with a pair of Terns stood further along the waters edge near the shadows of the bank. I thought the latter posed a more interesting composition. When I'm working 'en plein air' I'm keen not to miss anything and am always judging what the most interesting painting option might be!

Terns with a chick under the wing. A4 sketch.

Tern postures. A4 sketch.

'Sandwich Tern guarding Chick I'. 6" x 18" Oil on linen.

'Sandwich Tern guarding Chick II'. 6" x 18" Oil on linen.

Sandwich Tern with Chick. 6" x 8" Oil on board.

This was painted at the end of the evening, the chick was tucked up and keeping warm and hidden.

'Arctic Tern in Summer Light'. 6" x 18" Oil on board.

Arctic Terns on their preening rock. 8" x 6" Oil on board.

'Sandwich Tern, evening rest'. 6" x 18" Oil on board.

I thoroughly enjoyed painting at Cemlyn Bay, there was so much to see all in one place. The lagoon islands were bustling with bird life making for wonderful and countless painting opportunities conveniently laid out in front of me. The reserve is a rare and special place to visit!

Shelduck family at Dusk, 9" x 13" Oil on linen.

I don't work from photographs usually, but this is a scene I'd snapped at dusk from my car window as I passed them driving over the bridge, not wishing to disturb them, I carried on home.

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