Saturday, March 2, 2013

Revisiting the Nashville Warbler

Nashville Warbler on Bean Trells, February 2013. Watercolor by Ken Januski
When we saw a Nashville Warbler in our backyard last Saturday it was hard to know what to do first: get the binoculars so we could confirm what it was? Get the camera so I could photograph it? Try to do a sketch? Notify other local birders via the PA Rare Bird List?

I took steps one and two first, view him through the binoculars and then run upstairs and get the camera and try for some photos as he flitted in and out of sight for 30 minutes or so. I probably made a mistake with step 3, which is alert local birders. As with any rare bird it makes most sense to see it as well as possible as long as possible and get proof of the bird, either verbal, visual or both.

When I came back down after posting the two blurry photos to the bird list I don't think we ever saw the bird again. I assumed that we'd see him later in the day,  especially as he probably wasn't going to fly anywhere in the rain. But we never saw him again that day or the next few days.

I did a quick watercolor that I posted here but it was unsatisfactory in many ways. Since then I've wanted to do a better version, one that was more accurate in shape and color and also more a finished painting. That is it at top, a smallish 7x10 watercolor on 300# Arch cold press paper. I think it does justice to such a rare scene.

I did look on ebird in the following days to see if I could find any other nearby sightings. Though I didn't try every state the closest one I found was Texas!
Killdeer, Great Blue Heron, Snow at Manayunk Canal. Watercolor by Ken Januski

The watercolor above is a reworking of the earlier watercolor of the Killdeer and Great Blue Heron seen at the Manayunk Canal a number of weeks ago. It's the earliest I've ever seen a Killdeer in Philadelphia and I wanted to commemorate it, and the snow and Great Blue Heron in a painting. This was also the second version, but I still wasn't happy with it when I finished it a couple of weeks ago. It just didn't seem to vibrate in terms of color or value. I felt I hadn't taken advantage of a special scene. So I reworked it yesterday for the Manayunk Roxborough Arts Center Members Show. It's not perfect but I think much better now.

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