Friday, October 18, 2013

The Kinglet Nemesis

Golden-crowned Kinglets. Watercolor sketch by Ken Januski.

Ruby-crowned and Golden-crowned Kinglet. Field sketches by Ken Januski.

Late October is always the time of kinglets, both Ruby-crowned and Golden-crowned. I walked along Forbidden Drive in Philadelphia yesterday along the Wissahickon Creek and they were everywhere. My conservative count was 5-7 each but there were probably more likely 10 each.

When I headed out yesterday I in fact hoped to see some, along with perhaps an early Winter Wren and a late Black-throated Blue Warbler. Perhaps an Osprey. All are birds that I've seen in this location at this time of year.

But for all the times I've seen kinglets I just can't draw them from life. For many people a 'nemesis bird' is one that they'd like to see but just can't. It always avoids them, appearing instead perhaps for the person who strolls along 15 minutes later.

That's not my problem with kinglets. I see them. I just don't see them long enough or well enough to sketch them. Above are two field sketches from yesterday. I feel that they're getting better but still leave a lot to be desired.

As I sketched them I realized that I still didn't fully understand the markings, especially on the wings of kinglets. So today I decided to make some small sketches of Golden-crowned Kinglets based on photos I've taken. As I added them I started thinking about making them into one big watercolor sketch. This is just about how you see kinglets, except of course that at most 10% of them are standing still.

They are an exhuberant bird, both the Golden-crowned and the Ruby-crowned. I hope the watercolor sketch at top captures some of that. It's now been seven years I think that I've tried to portray kinglets in the fall. I can see that I'll be at again this fall. A much better painting I'm sure is somewhere over the horizon.

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