Wednesday, May 14, 2014

From Warblers to Shorebirds

Spotted and Semipalmated Sandpipers. Field Sketch by Ken Januski.

Least and Solitary Sandpipers. Field Sketches by Ken Januski.

It's been years since I've seen a variety of shorebirds at Morris Arboretum in spring. It was almost starting to seem like something I'd dreamed. And yet yesterday an email stated that there was a LOT of mud flats there, and shorebirds.

So we were there for their 10 a.m. opening hoping the shorebirds, and shore, were still around. They were. How exciting it was to be able to see local Least Sandpipers again. I know that they can be found in a few other parts of Philadelphia in spring but Morris is very close by. It's far easier to hop over there. I love being able to see shorebirds there.

Above are some field sketches I did today. I'm rusty as is probably obvious. But I'm happy with them. I also took a number of photos and will most likely use both as the source of new work. In seeing shorebirds for the first time in a long time I tend to try to stay true to them rather than work more abstractly. Eventually I'll take greater liberties. But for now I'm hoping that they'll stick around so that I can concentrate on getting down their form.

Canada Warbler. Watercolor Sketch by Ken Januski.

Warblers are of course another story. I've never seen as many in Philadelphia as I saw at Carpenters Woods during the first 7-10 days of May. But things have quieted down - so soon!?!- and the foliage has filled in. What warblers remain are hard to see. Still I'm sure that there will be more to be seen, or heard, for another week or so.

In the drawing below I tried to quickly capture a briefly seen Canada Warbler. It's in upper right and quite disappointing. But I have wanted to commemorate some of the warblers seen over the last couple of weeks, first in watercolor and later perhaps in woodcut or linocut prints. Above is a quick watercolor sketch of a Canada Warbler, based on some photos of them from numerous visits to Shenandoah National Park in May.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird Buzzing Tufted Titmouse. Field Sketch by Ken Januski.

One of the more interesting experiences I've had while birding recently is in the upper left. Though it may be hard to read because I have the scale wrong it is a Ruby-throated Hummingbird dive bombing a Tufted Titmouse. It did this over and over for 60-90 seconds. At lower right another surprise. I didn't recognize the large bird when if flew over Carpenters Woods last Saturday. I knew it wasn't a heron, egret or cormorant. Then I ran into a local birder who'd just seen two Common Loons fly over. Sure enough  that's what it was. Also pictured  the ubiquitous Black-throated Blue and Common Yellowthroat Warblers.

It's hard to believe that spring migration is almost over. But it has been great. And I hope that I will eventually have a lot of artwork based on it to show and write about.

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