Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Another Election Day Osprey at Wissahickon

Juvenile Osprey at Wissahickon. Pen and Watercolor sketch by Ken Januski.

It was way back in November, 2004, the day after the presidential election that I saw my first Osprey along the Wissahickon Creek in Philadelphia. I only noticed him when I heard a splash behind me then saw a huge shadow fly over me. I then saw him head up the creek, fish in talons.

This was a great surprise. First of all it was a surprise to even find one in the Wissahickon. Second of all it was a surprise to find one in November. Since then I've seen them many times in November, often for weeks at a time.

As Jerene and I headed out for a brief walk today there were a few birds we hoped to see, first of fall birds more or less: Winter Wren, Brown Creeper, and Osprey among them. As we neared the end of our walk, with just a scant 18 species I theorized which of those species we might see in the last few hundreds of yards to up our count to 20.

Soon after Jerene stopped and said there was an Osprey across the creek. Sure enough there was a beautiful juvenile male Osprey, crisp white edges to most of his covert feathers. I've tried sketching them before with mixed results in this situation. So this time I decided on a few photos first, then sketches. Sure enough four quick photos and he was gone.

So this is based on one of those photos. It's done with ballpoint pen on a Stillman and Birn Beta sketchbook, opened wide to use both pages. I then went over the drawing with just a bit of watercolor. My hope was to capture the striking white, and almost punky head, as well as some of the many light feather edges.

I once told an accomplished local birder that I often see Osprey in the Wissahickon in November. He expressed skepticism. But they are there, sometimes vocal, and sometimes utterly quiet as today. But they're there and well worth looking for.

Their little brethren, the Golden-crowned Kinglet, might have been the most numerous bird of the walk. We also saw a Black Squirrel as we left. Now of course I'm toying with just how to combine the Osprey and Squirrel in a painting or print.

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