Friday, February 13, 2015

GBBC 2015 Day One - Peregrine

Peregrine Falcon on St. John's Church Steeple. Watercolor Sketch by Ken Januski.

Today began the Great Backyard Bird Count. I think today and the upcoming weekend may be the coldest in recent memory for it, though certainly not the snowiest. I was a bit reluctant to head out with a windchill of 0 or so. This was especially so as I'd seen no birds in flight from my studio window earlier in the morning. Generally at least the European Starlings and Mourning Doves are active by 7:45 a.m.

I'd also had reports that one or two of the nesting pair of Peregrine Falcons had returned to St. John's Church down the hill in Manayunk. On a warmer day I would have swung by the church. But today I decided to stick to the Canal as it paralleled the Schuylkill River, hoping to see water birds. They at least should be out.

I did see a number of Mallards and a couple of female Common Mergansers. I didn't see much else though nearer to Main St. I did see an American Robin and a European Starling squabbling over berries. As I looked up I also saw the church a few blocks away. Might as well scan it I thought. I did see a bird but assumed it was more likely a Rock Pigeon than a Peregrine. From that distance I couldn't tell for sure. But I took one photo just in case.

When I got home I found a handsome Peregrine on the steeple. Above is a pencil sketch with watercolor based on the photo.

I've never been an illustrator. So I've never had to work on deadline with representational art. However I do like the challenge of illustrating these GBBC forays. I always have limited time and I like to try to illustrate each day's sightings, sometimes with more realism than other times. If I work from photos, as I did today, then it looks even more like an illustration. This was done in one hour in a Stillman and Birn sketchbook. My guess is that it will be by far the most realistic sketch I do during the GBBC.

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