Thursday, March 12, 2015

Visiting Owls Delay Woodcut

Long-eared Owl at Heinz NWR. Watercolor sketch by Ken Januski.

So I had thought I might try the next to last color on the woodcut today but all those reports of rare owls just 10-15 miles away kept getting in the way. Given that it was supposed to be sunny today and the ground had probably absorbed much of the moisture from recent rain and snow it seemed like it was worth giving Heinz NWR a try.

Five, yes FIVE Long-eared Owls were reported there a couple of days ago, along with a Northern Saw-whet and Great Horned Owls. Since we've never seen either Long-eared or Northern Saw-whets it was hard to resist trying for them. It turned out that we didn't have good directions for either of the rare ones. But then someone pointed the Long-eared Owl out just 10-15 yards from where we were. We watched him for about 15 minutes, walked and birded for another 3 plus hours, then came back and watched again. Though his silhouette was quite obvious with the naked eye, he was in shadow, facing away from us and draped in vines and twigs. So neither my sketch nor my photos turned out to be much. But they were enough for me to do this quick watercolor sketch. The most memorable parts I think I've gotten, the huge tufts and the buff on the primaries. The yellow eye, surrounded by a coppery color is also striking but the best we could see was an occasional bit of yellow eye. So I used just a bit of artistic liberty here.

We also searched for the Northern Saw-whet Owl unsuccessfully. But who can complain after seeing the Long-eared? We also saw our first of year Tree Swallows and Green-winged Teal. Over the last few days, and closer to home, we've seen our first Wood Ducks of the year. YES, spring is here!

Red-breasted and Common Mergansers with Bufflehead at Flat Rock Dam. Late stage of two-block Woodcut by Ken Januski.

Above, badly photographed and cropped, is the newest version of the woodcut. I still need a gray for the Red-breasted Merganser and perhaps the Bufflehead and some water accents. Then the bulk of the print will be printed with the second black block. And then we'll see what we have. I'm hoping for the best.

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