Saturday, February 14, 2015

GBBC 2015 Day Two - Great Blue Heron In Flight

Great Blue Heron In Flight Over Papermill Run. Watercolor Sketch by Ken Januski

Another day, another deadline. One problem I've found with trying to 'illustrate' in some way or another each day's experience during the four days of The Great Backyard Bird Count is that I start getting anxious as the day's birding draws to an end and I don't have any idea what I'm going to do.

The easy answer of course is to just do nothing. But this is a personal challenge of a sort so I always try to do something. We birded the backyard, Andorra Natural Area and Morris Arboretum from 7 a.m. until 12:45 p.m. today. We didn't see anything quite as exciting as the Peregrine Falcon from yesterday but there were locally good birds like Golden Crowned Kinglets, Brown Creepers and Winter Wrens. I don't really like to take photos so I hold off as long as possible, unless I'm trying to get evidence of an unusual bird.

I never have enough good photos, or good looks at Winter Wrens or Brown Creepers so I was a bit tempted to take out the camera for them. Still I held off. I finally did take it out toward the end of the day as the one Brown Creeper crept higher into the gray overcast sky. By that time it would have been pointless to take a photo.

Getting desperate I did take a couple photos of a Great Blue Heron feeding quite studiously in Papermill Run at Morris Arboretum. This was just a backup in case I got desperate. It was too cold to consider sketching, even though I did have the sketchbook, so I took those photos just in case.

Later as we moved over toward the Wissahickon a large bird flew up and drifted toward the other Great Blue in Papermill Run. Yes it was another Great Blue. I have quite a lot of horrible sketches of Great Blues in flight. They are always striking but I never get them right. So this time I just took two quick photos. With the overcast sky they don't show much. But both give a good sense of the bird, the curve of the back, bend in the neck, length of the wings and especially the legs with feet pointing up rather than down.

That became the subject for today's illustration: a Great Blue Heron gracefully drifting out of view.

You never know what will happen when you challenge yourself like this. But often I find that I try something new and that eventually I end up using it somewhere.

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