Thursday, November 27, 2014

Another Thanksgiving Osprey Along the Wissahickon

Osprey with Fish at Valley Green. Linocut by Ken Januski.

Juvenile Osprey Along Wissahickon on Thanksgiving Day, 2014. Photo by Ken Januski.

Osprey with Fish at Valley Green, 2010. Field Sketch by Ken Januski.

Juvenile Osprey Along Wissahickon on Thanksgiving Day, 2014. Photo by Ken Januski.

I know I've talked a lot about Osprey in recent posts. That's for a couple of reasons: 1, we enjoy seeing them especially in November along the Wissahickon in Philadelphia, PA; 2, e-bird from Cornell Labs seems to think this is unusual; and 3, yesterday I finished a new linocut, one that was first begun, then abandoned four years ago.

At top you see the new linocut. It's based on the sketch done from life over four years ago. I abandoned it soon after I started because it seemed too clunky and primitive. But when I ran across it recently I liked it. So I reworked it, first with color  as I illustrated in an earlier post. When that didn't work out I made minor modifications and printed it in a small edition of six. One of them is at top.  I had thought we'd seen this Osprey on Thanksgiving but that actually was another one. This one was seen on 11.15.10.

I finished it on Wednesday. Today we went out to walk along the Wissahickon before cooking our Thanksgiving meal. When we first started this 15-20 years ago we saw a Pileated Woodpecker, a relatively rare bird for us at the time. So each Thanksgiving, and Christmas, we go out with the hope of seeing another.

More recently though we've seen something that actually is rare, at least according to e-bird, for this time of year, an Osprey. That was what we hoped to see today. And sure enough we did. Two of the best photos of the 60 plus that I took are above. This juvenile Osprey did not move from this position, except to change direction, in 30  minutes! Often I've hardly begun to sketch him or remove the lens cap from the camera before he's gone. The one, actually probably this one, that we saw a couple of weeks ago flew by and gave us all of 3-5 seconds to view him.

I'm including the last photo because it was illustrates an aha moment. We saw him most of the time with his back to us. What was striking was how short his tail was. As you can see his wings extend far beyond the tail. The overall shortness is due to foreshortening. But the relative length of the wings is no surprise when you consider what they look like in flight - very long wings. But it took us both awhile to reconcile that with the seemingly very short tail.

Among the many, many things we have to be thankful for is the Wissahickon and the wildlife that inhabit it. If you watch the news as we do, it seems like just about the entire world is 'fed up and not going to take it anymore'. I blame this partially on talk-radio and web sites, particularly news sites, that allow unbridled and unedited ranting. Everyone can now rant endlessly, and often anonymously .In any case most people actually have a lot to be thankful for if they think about it. This is all the more obvious when you see Ebola victims in Africa, terrorist victims anywhere, and the poor people of Syria, to name just a very, very few.

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