Her Majesty’s Chickens… and Parakeets

My sketch class met at Kew Gardens, (the royal botanical gardens) on Friday to sketch plants (duh).  But what caught my attention was birds, not plants!   A tiny peacock feather floated past me as I left the ticket booth, so I snagged it literally out of the air and took it to the coffee shop to sketch while the rest of the class straggled in:

"Little Peacock", colored pencil by Kerry McFall

 Next up was a bright green and blue bird that went screeching past… wait, a parrot?  Flying wild in London?  No, a parakeet, the gardener said when I asked her.  There are several flocks of them, especially at Kew and at Richmond, which used to be the King’s hunting grounds, and they suspect that is where they escaped into the wild from the aviary many years ago.  Now they are considered invasives. 

I did enjoy making a few sketches in the steamy “Temperate House”:

"Grassy Leaves", by Kerry McFall

The botanical name is Dendrocalamus hamiltonii, but grassy leaves pretty much sums it up for me.  Interesting that the structures of the two items are so similar – branching off a single stem.

When class ended I was greeted by four immense geese out on the lawn, who were oblivious to me as they calmly grazed on the manicured lawn.  They sure looked like Canada Geese, I’ll have to look them up and see if they range this far.  Carefully avoiding the goose poop, I wandered back to visit the Marian North gallery one more time (I had seen it several weeks ago when Griff and I visited Kew for the first time).  I could swear I heard chickens.  Turning the corner, sure enough – about a dozen hens and one rooster were wandering under the fading gold of the beeches and oaks.  They were soon joined by what must have been some kind of jay, and a couple of magpies.  Magpies look like they’re dressed for a wedding, all decked out in sparkling black and white with a touch of deep blue.  If I can find some good photos, I think I’ll try skestching parakeets and magpies today!