Sunday, December 8, 2013

First Snow of 2013-2014 Winter

American Robin Eating Winterberry Fruit.
A predicted snow shower turned into something more today. In fact we're now expecting 3-6 inches of snow. For us that's actually a large amount this early in the year. Local birds look like they've been caught by surprise.

We counted 50 American Robins in trees around the yard. The smarter ones took advantage of the fruits of this winterberry. As you can see their neon red color is striking in winter, especially against snow. Sometimes we just admire their beauty. But when we get heavy snows we're happy that they're food for the birds. That was why we originally bought them.

Sharp-shinned Hawk on Backyard Bean Trellis.

When we first moved here and first discovered hawks in the backyard we believed that they were Sharp-shinned Hawks. And I think that's what they were. But here as in many places Cooper's Hawks have become more common. In this case though this was an immature Sharp-shinned Hawk. He finally left, without a meal. I assume he'll be back before dark.

The snow also brought some first of season birds (for the backyard) to our yard today: Dark-eyed Juncos, White-throated Sparrows, and surprisingly Northern Cardinals, which used to be here all year. We've seen these species elsewhere this year, quite a few in fact. But it's nice to finally see them in the backyard.

Eastern Towhee at Houston Meadows. Acrylic Painting by Ken Januski.

I thought this painting was done but as soon as I had a chance to take a good look at it things started bothering me. By this morning I could no longer stand it and had to start reworking it. But as soon as I changed one thing another started bothering me, etc., etc. For now it's done, though there is still one more change I'm tempted to make.

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher at Bartram's Garden. Watercolor by Ken Januski.

I finished reworking the Towhee painting by mid-morning, long before any serious snow had started. So that got me thinking about another 'finished' painting that had been bothering me more and more. Above is the new version of the watercolor of the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher. My original goal was just to get the bird down on paper. But the more I looked at it the more dissatisfied I was with the background foliage and sky. I'm going to try to keep my hands off of it and move on to something new but you just never know.


Ellen Snyder said...

Hi Ken,

I'm started to get used to the warm, sunny weather here in south India. It will be a shock to the system when we return on Sat given the weather forecast. Your post though preps me for our return to winter and watching birds feed among the winterberry with a wintry background. Here, instead of robins, we watch the antics of bulbuls and babblers.

Hope you are not getting too much ice.


Ken Januski said...

Hi Ellen,

Yes I bet it will be a shock coming home to winter! But given how much you seem to enjoy it and spend time outside in it my guess is that you'll also be happy to see it. Still I'm envious of your current weather!

We've had very little ice. We did have another 3-4 inches of snow a few days after the one mentioned in this post but all in all it's caused few difficulties and mainly been enjoyable.

Safe travels on your way home.