Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Homeboys(and girls) - Early June 2013

Zabulon Skipper, Acadian Flycatcher and Eastern Pondhawk. Watercolor by Ken Januski

Zabulon Skipper, Acadian Flycatcher, Gray Catbird, Veery. Field sketches by Ken Januski

Try as I might I can't find any lingering migrant warblers. They seem to have moved on and now it's mainly the summer breeders that I see on our walks. That's fine. It really is as it should be. But each time spring migration ends it is shocking how quickly it has passed. It almost makes you want to give up sleep during the month of May.

We have seen a few birds that I'm still not sure are migrants or breeders. The Willow Flycatcher at Morris Arboretum, which we see each year, is most likely a breeder but I'd like to prove it this year. The Yellow-billed Cuckoo that we saw at the Breeding Bird Census at Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education last Saturday is even more of a question. Could it be breeding there? The habitat seems suitable but I've never seen it other than in May or early June.

I wanted to include it in the watercolor at  top but it was hard enough  to torture the Acadian Flycatcher into the composition. A bird perched even higher like the cuckoo just would never have worked.

I didn't see all of the species seen here at the same time and location. The Zabulon Skipper was seen in our yard and then also today along the Wissahickon. The Eastern Pondhawk, another first of year species like the skipper, was seen at Morris Arboretum on Sunday. And this Acadian is from a field sketch from today. As  I think about it a Willow Flycatcher might have been a better choice since all three of these species would be likely at Morris.

The other species seen today include a very perky Gray Catbird, another Zabulon Skipper, one of many Veeries, and a very small Blue-gray Gnatcatcher. In a sense they are homeboys and homegirls. This is their home for the next few months.

The watercolor is done on Stillman and Birn 9x12 inch Delta paper. I've always liked all of the Stillman and Birn sketchbooks for working through compositional ideas. This is a somewhat outlandish composition. But I don't like dull ones for my own work. So I keep experimenting.

To me that is part of the fun - to show familiar birds and other fauna in unexpected ways. Eventually I hope to return to linocuts. This sketch is a possibility for one but my guess is that it is currently far too complex. But you never know. One day, soon I hope, one of these will seem just perfect for a lino.

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