Claude Gibney Finch-Davies was born in India and sent to school in England at the age of six. At 18 he gave up his studies and enrolled with the Cape Mounted Riflemen in the Cape Colony. By the time the Anglo Boer War arrived, he had been promoted to corporal.
His mother had interested him in natural history, and during the war he started drawing birds. The first painting in his sketchbooks, of an Ethiopian snipe shot at Lusikisiki in the Eastern Cape, is dated 4 August 1903.
THE EARLY DAYS
By 1906 he had completed some 200 paintings in 10 volumes. In 1908 he was admitted as a member of the British Ornithologist's Union and was recognised as an illustrator of international repute. He completed 69 illustrations for the authoritative Game Birds and Waterfowl of South Africa by Major Boyd Horsbrugh, and by this time had been promoted to Sergeant.
The series of four Sandgrouse paintings by Davies were issued by Bophuthatswana in 1990. The stamps feature the four sandgrouse found in South Africa, Burchell's Sandgrouse (21c), Double-banded Sandgrouse (35c), Namaqua Sandgrouse (40c) and Yellow-throated Sandgrouse (50c)
|Around 1911 Davies began devoting his
time to birds of prey, and eventually produced seven
books with his sketches. He drew on
specimens seen or borrowed from the South African Museum
in Cape Town, the King William's Town Museum and the
Transvaal Museum in Pretoria. His links with the
Transvaal Museum were the beginning of a fruitful and, eventually, a disastrous relationship.
Four of paintings were used in the Bophuthatswana Birds of Prey issue of 1989. Two of these illustrated are the Black Shouldered Kite (18c) and the Lesser Kestrel (40c)