Sorry to start this with such an ‘aw-fowl’ pun! *rolls eyes*, but I am excited to show you my latest commissioned piece of taxidermy – featuring this beautiful male Wigeon.
Although there are some select areas of the UK where Wigeon are resident in the UK, the vast amount of them can be seen wintering here, where they arrive in their thousands from Iceland, Scandinavia and Russia, to escape the harsher weather there.
Even though their conservation status is classed as amber listed by RSPB, Wigeon are still sadly allowed to be legally shot in the UK, for leisure.
If you’ve read my philosophy or FAQ’s, you’d know that I am fanatical about wildlife and I think the abhorrent act of shooting birds out of the sky/water/land for ‘fun’ or because it’s ‘tradition’ is abhorrent, especially in a world where biodiversity is decreasing faster than ever. I will not be a part of that in any way, which is why I do not work with specimens that have been killed in such a way for a so called ‘trophy’.
There is a sad story behind this poor duck.
It was picked up by a warden at a nature reserve, whom I’ve previously preserved an educational Tawny Owl for, which sits in the reserve office which is lovely! He picked up this duck which wasn’t in a good way, but despite best efforts, he didn’t pull though and sadly died in his arms.
He was in pristine condition on the outside, however, upon skinning him, I discovered the cause of his demise was somewhat more sinister.
He had some pretty gnarly gut issues and my heart absolutely sank when I discovered lead shot within him. He had clearly been shot in the stomach, flown on to the reserve and had died a very slow, painful death. In this particular circumstance, I decided to continue with the project, considering it was being commissioned with honest intention and my client was none the wiser and did everything he could to save the poor creature.
I like to think I captured the essence and movement of what he probably loved doing best in his living life, which is swimming around doing duck stuff! May he live on and be an amazing ambassador for his living relatives, inspire others so we can help keep these beautiful ducks safe from extinction.
My client had already agreed that I have free reign on this project, so I couldn’t resist trying out something new. I love experimenting, and it took a few attempts with different materials, but I had so much fun making the water scene for this project!
I had some old perspex that I cut out on the first attempt, however it completely messed up my jigsaw as the friction acted like a heat gun and melted on to the blade, whoops! Second attempt with acrylic proved much more fruitful.
I then used a mixture of clear silicone and artificial water to create the ‘ripples’. I cut a ‘duck shaped’ hole in the piece of acrylic before I fixed it to the wall-moutable piece of wood, so I could fit the finished mount in to it once he was dry. It’s definitely got me excited to do more water scenes in the future!