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Frank Jarvis (1939-2002) was a man unknown to many. An avid birdwatcher with a talent for drawing, he was never interested self-promotion, for years filling many notebooks with drawings and sketches purely intended for his own reference. Amongst his few publicly known appearances are his illustrations for Birds of Singapore, written by Chris Hails, and The Birds of Bali, written by Victor Mason. From 1986, Frank and his family set up Old Barn Studio in Kettlestone in Norfolk where Frank taught life drawing, bird sketching and painting.
During his years spent birdwatching, Frank kept meticulous field notes; he never owned a camera. He would return from the field to sit in a café, bar or in his studio, to record what he had observed. He said that drawing is only a matter of really seeing: he developed his own "internal camera" through watching and observing. His illustrations were not intended as bird portraits or identification diagrams per se; rather they were attempts to catch his impression of a specific experience, under varied conditions and in different seasons.
The private field notes and drawings reproduced in this book have been drawn from Frank's copious research files and collections of notebooks and are published here posthumously. This first volume is the result of two of his many diaries, and focuses on birds observed in Britain between 1985 and 1993, and form a valuable resource for artist and naturalist alike.
With hundreds of striking drawings and lively sketches, Frank’s enthusiasm and meticulous descriptions invite you in to the private world of a committed birder, with all the attendant highs and lows. You find you have joined him staring out to sea on a shingle bank, sea watching on a windy day in the drizzle, or still and intense waiting for an elusive rarity that appears for the briefest of moments from a tangle of vegetation.
"[...] er, the real joy of this book is the plethora of beautiful paintings and field sketches [...] Readers of this book will undoubtedly enjoy returning to it time and time again."
– Moss Taylor, British Birds, Volume 110, November 2017
"Frank Jarvis' lovely volume of field sketches captures all the immediacy of being there and of knowing wildlife first hand. It is rich in feeling for nature. It is full of the intimacies that only come from a lifetime of observation."
– Mark Cocker, Author and Naturalist
"Frank's diary pages not only capture beautifully his subjects but his words document a wonderful period in birdwatching – an era largely free of technology when binoculars, notebook and fieldcraft were the essentials for a day out in the field."
– James McCallum, Wildlife Artist