Sunday, March 30, 2014

Arriving Warblers, Departing Ducks

Pine Warbler and Ring-necked Ducks. Watercolor Sketch by Ken Januski

I hate to post something new here. That's because I'm so happy with that last grebes and mergansers print that I'd like to leave it up permanently.

But time and the seasons move on and I hate to not mention something about them. Earlier this week, I saw my first Pine Warbler of 2014. After the long dreary winter their strong, bright yellow is always a welcome harbinger of things to come. I saw him while walking along Forbidden Drive in Wissahickon Park in Philadelphia but unfortunately the view was all to brief. Fortunately though he was low, just above eye level, so I did get a good look at his rich yellow.

Later in the week just as the first of 3-5 rainy days began I went to the wetlands of Morris Arboretum, looking for Wilson's Snipe, a bird we sometimes see there this time of year. I'd also heard that some long-billed shorebirds had been seen so that convinced me to brave the rain and go looking for them.

Try as I might I didn't find them but finally I realized that those strikingly contrasting Mallards at the far end of the pond were in fact not Mallards but Ring-necked Ducks. It's the first time I've ever seen any there  I think that during migration though it pays to pay attention. Migrants can't be too choosy and you just don't know what you may find in any location.

I never saw this scene. The Pine Warbler was about a mile away on a different day. But their juxtaposition is plausible and I like the idea of illustrating the arrival of one migrant and the departure of another.

I'm not too experienced with waterfowl but it seems this year has been far more active than normal, probably because of frozen water farther north. It's been a pleasure to see so many close to home. But without a doubt I'm ready to trade them for warblers, a symbol of a long awaited spring if there ever was one.

Each spring I find I do watercolor sketches like this, often combining birds not actually seen together. These really are the working through of ideas more than anything else. They are both illustrations of something and compositional studies. Yes they are sloppy and indistinct. But their purpose is really as a compositional study for a possible print or painting at another time. Perhaps even a woodcut like the last one. It is a direction I'll continue to pursue.


Ellen Snyder said...

Yeah warblers--we are almost ready for them!

Ken Januski said...

Hi Ellen,

I imagine almost everybody is ready for warblers after this winter. It has been a long one.

My peas are in the ground though not yet germinated. Soon I'll put the lettuce seedlings out to harden off. Once they're in the ground then I'll officially say it is spring.