Alive, alive, oh – Curlew by the wooden bridge

When the tide leaves the mudflats on the North side of Dollymount an amazing habitat is revealed. It leaves an abundance of food for the many wading birds that flock here.  The curlews are a particularly distinctive visitor, with their long legs, curved bills and beautiful brownish grey feathers.

Samphire, a bright green succulent, shoots out the mudflats like miniature desert of cacti.  They look so perfect, and although I have never picked them and are so careful not to thread on them, they are delicious with seafood. Cordgrass also grows here, adding more luminesce green to the masses of green seaweed and algae on the seabed especially during summer months.  I really wanted to capture the vibrant green and some of the detail of this unique habitat.

The curlew’s long, curved bill allows it to forage for worms and other deep burrowing prey such as shrimp and crabs.  It will also gorge on other small shells such as cockles and mussels left behind by the tide, inspiring the title for this piece.

The wooden bridge was built in 1819 during the construction of the Bull Wall.  It was intended to be a temporary structure, to be demolished after the Wall was built but it is still standing strong.

This piece uses a combination of detailed pen sketching for the curlews and details, combined with bringing the composition together with the fresh bold colours and lines of the digitally illustrated landscape.