Be Inspired by Birds on our Biology, Ecology and Drawing Urban Birds Weekend* in Bristol; a hands-on introductory course welcoming novices to many familiar feathered friends in nature.

Quarry Bank Mill, The National Trust, near Manchester
*Weekend courses include tuition only. There is no accommodation provided

Learn more about their behaviour and diversity and go on to apply this understanding to create beautiful art work using brown ink and a wash technique à la ‘Nature Notes of an Edwardian Lady.’ Encouraging you to take a moment to mindfully appreciate our charismatic urban avian species through their science and their form.  Be inspired and engaged by the expertise of our specialist tutors and enjoy being surrounded by like minded individuals to share your interest in an idyllic urban wildlife haven.

Day 1 – Introduction to Urban Birds

Learn to Love Urban Birds in an engaging introduction to our feathered friends. Learners will appreciate the basic biology of a bird and how that model has been illimitably adapted! Even in an urban environment the variety of species and their distinctive behaviours can be observed and better understood under the guidance of an engaging, experienced expert in the field.

If you’re interested in finding out more about birds but don’t feel quite ready for a specific field ID course, then this is the course for you! It is a gentle introduction, covering aspects of urban bird biology, ecology and behaviour complemented by a creative day that will give you time and space to develop your skills in investigating and representing this fascinating subject artistically/

What will be covered during this day?

  • Birds 1a – Bird Biology
  • Birds 1b – Bird Ecology
  • Birds 1c – Common urban birds encountered
  • Birds 1d – Common types of bird song

Our talented tutor Anne Brenchley will combine the use of classroom-led learning and outside learning opportunities  to give individuals the skills and confidence to learn more about the lives and ecology of birds.

Day 2 – Sketching Urban Birds

You will Love to Draw Birds on this introductory art course covering technical elements of texture, tone and water washes . Use brown ink pen with a light wash à la ‘Nature Notes of the Edwardian Lady’ to create beautiful investigative compositions celebrating the intricacy of feathers and the birds to which they belong.

Our talented art tutor Debora Cane will support you with techniques and knowledge to bring the subject of birds alive through your art work using images, hands on resources and first hand observations of the subject.  The artistic skills will be complemented by your new found knowledge of the species to really give depth and understanding to the pieces that you create.

What will be covered during this day?

The subject will be the star and the nature context focus for building the following artistic skills:

  • Drawing in pen
  • Creating pen textures and patterns in relation to birds
  • Mixing colours intuitively
  • Applying Watercolour
  • Placing subjects in context
  • Developing a broader view of nature drawings from the work of others and from a historical perspective

The weekend  gives you the opportunity to immerse yourself in a new subject, acquire novel skills and take a different kind of city break.  When the learning is over, you have the evening to explore what a new place has to offer.

  • Each day will run 10am – 5pm each day.
  • See the ‘Example Timetable’, ‘What’s Included’ and ‘Before You Attend’ sections below for more information about this course.
  • Please email [email protected] if you have any questions.

Course Fees

Subsidised Price: £20

Subsidised by the Generation Green project for young people aged 18-25 living in England only. You will be asked to prove your age and address so please only select this option if you are aged between 18 and 25 and live in England.  Select ‘Attendee Subsidised: In Person’

Regular Price: £100
For any adults unable to access the subsidised option. Select ‘Attendee: In Person’.


Tutor: Anne Brenchley

Anne was born and brought up in Kent and has been a keen birdwatcher from a very early age. She was awarded a Zoology degree and a PhD from Aberdeen University (studying Rooks) and went on to spend most of her working career, until 2011, with Natural England and its predecessors. She has been a Regional Rep for the British Trust for Ornithology since 2000 in Flintshire and Wrexham, organising and taking part in surveys and also helping other volunteers. She is also a fully qualified bird ringer and the main author of the Breeding Birds of North Wales published in 2013. Anne is now an independent ecological/horticultural consultant and lead birdwatching/wildlife walks on a weekly basis.

Tutor: Debora Cane

Debora is an enthusiastic art tutor with over 30 years’ experience. All of her courses concentrate on simple concepts and practical techniques and are suitable for everyone; no previous experience is required. Every session has planned content and takes varying approaches to help students build up their own techniques and style. Debora draws and paints daily (mainly in pen and ink) and undertakes illustrations for small commissions. She is a Professional Associate of the SAA.

Covid Measures

In order to keep our customers and staff safe we ask that anyone attending our centres:

  • wears a face covering when in shared indoor space (unless exempt).
  • maintains social distancing.
  • cleans their hands regularly.
  • takes a Covid-19 test before they arrive.

Example Timetable

  • Please arrive in time for the course to start promptly at 10:00 am.
  • The course will end at 5:00 pm.

What's Included

  • Expert Tuition
  • 6 hours of tuition
  • Any excursions will be on foot

Bursaries and Subsidies

Generation Green

Generation Green is an ambitious project which will support 100,000 young people and teachers/youth leaders to better understand the environment and green economy. Through a series of day and residential activities, teacher and youth leader training, apprenticeships and work placements the partners delivering this project will reach out to young people in England in the North West and Midlands, and deprived coastal and urban areas.

Generation Green is actively delivering opportunities for an 18 month period thanks to government funding (Defra) administered through Heritage Lottery. FSC is working alongside YHA, Outward Bound Trust, Girl Guides, Scouts and National Parks to provide these amazing opportunities.

FSC are offering this course at a heavily subsidised rate for young people aged 18-25 living in England through the Generation Green project.

Before You Attend

What to bring

Day - 1

Notepad and pencil


Suitable clothing and footwear for being outside

Binoculars if you have them

Day - 2

Cartridge paper or sketch pad

Other art items to be confirmed


Suitable clothing and footwear for being outside

There will be a member of staff with first aid training and access to a first aid kit on site. If you have special medical requirements please let us know as soon as possible so we can plan the course.