The art classes at the Howth Yacht Club have resumed after the summer break. The weekly classes are run by Irma, a retired art teacher and attended by a bunch of lovely members of the Club. It's my non-negotiable 2 hours a week to simply put everything aside and just paint. So good for the soul!

This season I decided to study the beautiful water birds of Ireland. I started with a cormorant. I see them often flying over Howth and Burrow beach in long lines or in loose V-shaped flocks (a flock of cormorants is called a "gulp"!). I also get to see them up close around Ireland's Eye while paddleboarding with Discover SUP. They often stand with their wings spread, drying their wet wings after diving. Their feathers become easily waterlogged - it allows them to dive deeper (up to 45m!) by preventing air bubbles from getting trapped underneath their feathers.


The first stage - collection - needs some careful timing. I've learnt that the best specimens are found while combing the intertidal zone (the area between the low tide and high tide marks), particularly after some stormy onshore winds. When I spot a bit of wild weather in the forecast, I check the tides and get my wellies ready. Then I spend an hour or two wading through the riches that have come ashore. It's fun, mindful, and works the leg muscles!

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