Tuesday, February 18, 2014

GBBC 2014 -Day 4

Canada Geese with Wood Duck in Swan Pond at Morris Arboretum. Pen Sketch by Ken Januski.

My Kingdom for Some Snowshoes!! That was my thought yesterday as we finally dug out the car and drove to the last day of birding for the Great Backyard Bird Count. On day 1 and day 3 we'd walked and had to traipse through a lot of deep snow. It was difficult but I never thought I was going to injure myself.

Yesterday was something different. At Andorra Natural Area and also off the plowed walks at Morris Arboretum the snow was treacherous. There was just enough crust to make you  feel that it would support your weight. Then just as you moved a leg forward the back one broke the crust and fell 6-18 inches. At various times I, and to a lesser extent Jerene since she's so much lighter, wondered just what would get injured: knee, ankle, hip?

We cut our snow birding short at Andorra and did the last half of our birding from the road, having to dodge cars occasionally. It was a great relief when we went a short distance over to Morris Arboretum and were able to walk on plowed walks. Only occasionally did we tempt the snow and each time quickly gave up in defeat. Why in the world didn't we buy snowshoes when they  were on sale? Well the answer is simple. We never get much snow in Philadelphia! This year has been a shocking reminder that sometimes we really do get a winter.

In any case with all the effort of just walking I didn't do any  sketches  and only took a couple of photos. They  were of two Wood Ducks with a number of Canada Geese and Mallards in the Swan Pond.  I really only took them as proof that we'd seen some. I didn't have time to take photos of the ones we'd seen at the Schuylkill River on Friday.

In looking at them I  discovered that I'd also gotten a Canada Goose in full  stretch. Since I like to force myself to do an 'illustration' for these birding reports it seemed like a good one. The Wood Duck and other Canada Goose weren't in these locations so I took some artistic liberties.

I like forcing myself to do these. It reminds me of the many artists in visual, musical, literary media who have done some of their best work under pressure. None of these are my best work by far. But they do force me to try something new. Often that leads to a more developed work. And all in all I think they're far more useful to me artistically than the pen sketches of a week ago.

And as I've said before I thank the Great Backyard Bird Count for encouraging us, and everyone, to get out and see the beauty of nature in winter. I have to say that when I lived in California years ago I greatly missed it. It does have its disadvantages at time but also its own unique rewards.

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