My Nature Journal In December

In my post today I want to share some of the sketches in my nature journal from December. I’ve been very focused on drawing birds and practicing getting down bird anatomy, so my nature journal tends to be full of them. My sketches are a mixture of live observed birds and birds sketched from reference and then painted with a bit more detail. Obviously the big challenge with drawing birds is that they tend to move a lot or can even fly away. I try to focus on the main shapes of the bird first with a few rough lines, and sometimes start several sketches on my page to complete when the bird moves back.

When I’m at my desk I often search for reference photos (be sure not to break any copyrights when you do that!) and take a bit more time to get the details right. Right now I’m preparing for a new painting project about birds, so it comes in handy to have a reference that doesn’t move and shows the feather groups and colors correctly. Of course a photo will only show what’s there in a certain light situation and it can be a bit misleading, so colors are always best observed on a live bird.

On to my pages from December:

A few birds I sketched, a lapwing (Kiebitz), citril finch (Zitronengirlitz), collared flycatcher (Halsbandschnäpper). For all of these I’ve done more detailed watercolor paintings that I’ll show you soon.

I interrupted the bird chain here and studied weather phenomena, after years I finally grasped the nomenclature and it’s fun to practice the names of clouds (you can do that anywhere when you’re out!)

Sometimes nature journaling for me just means heading to the nearest park and sketch some shrubs. Here’s a corkscrew hazel that I found fascinating. I studied the contorted twigs and noticed it even had flowers!

More birds, here some common ones: a fieldcare and a robin. I love seeing these little guys outside.

For the last few days of December I took my new binoculars out to watch birds in their habitat. There is a bird watching station with a lot of water birds near my home and it was wonderful to watch all the different species: white egret, heron, different ducks and geese, and lots of cormorants.

I hope this review has been fun to you! What do you like to sketch these days? I would love to hear in the comments section!

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If you don’t know the name of a bird that you see, how do you find out what it is? How do you research it?


A field guide is usually most helpful to identify birds. Some of them have a little walkthrough at the start to help with identification. The way I approach it is I observe the bird as much as possible and try to place it in his respective family (these are always shown in field guides). Then I try to look for special markings, color, bill, head size, etc. that will me help to find the species. Of course it’s helpful to roughly have an idea what you’re looking for, so studying a field guide beforehand is a great way to get… Read more »