Friday, July 24, 2015

Raptors Overhead, Watercolor Off the Easel

Adult and Two Juvenile Great-crested Flycatchesrs. Watercolor and Sumi Brush Pen Painting by Ken Januski.

I think I mentioned recently that I've been hoping to do some more developed work for an international competition whose deadline is fast approaching. After all those sumi brush pen sketches I finally bit the bullet and started work on the 16x20 inch watercolor and sumi brush pen painting above. I've wanted to make a painting of a scene similar to this for the last 18 months or so ever since I saw one or two adult and two juvenile Great-crested Flycatchers all together at Morris Arboretum last spring. This is based on various photos from that day. We've seen another 3-4 Great-crested at the same location over the last few weeks so maybe that is what spurred me on to this subject.

I still have a bit of time before the competition so there may still be one more painting using this medium in the near future. In the past I've entered this competition twice and had my linocuts accepted twice. But I lost money on all the various costs involved. Even if I'd sold I would have lost money because prints are almost by definition less expensive than paintings. So this year I've decided to enter some paintings and perhaps a couple of woodcuts. We shall see.

Peregrine Falcon Flying Over Backyard. Photo by Ken Januski.

It was after a 12 hour day exhibiting at the Manayunk Arts Festival in 2012 that I hiked up hill to our house. As soon as I got a block away from Main St. and the festival I heard a shrill cry. When I looked up I saw at least one and maybe more raptors. Almost immediately I realized that they must be part of the peregrine family from the nearby church steeple. That was in fact the case and just a half block away were birders keeping track of the adults and the newly fledged young. Later that summer we often heard the same shrill cries overhead in our backyard and saw up to three peregrines at the same time flying high overhead.

We heard and saw them again in the summer of 2013 then not at all in 2014, though they had again bred at the church. They bred again this year, though I never saw them in my few trips to the church. But just this week Jerene heard their cries again. She heard and saw them briefly on Tuesday and Wednesday. So yesterday I sat out in the back with camera binoculars hoping to do the same. No luck. Then at the same time today we heard then saw two of them. I was ready with binoculars and camera but almost immediately they flew into the sun and were gone. I was only able to get the one grainy photo above, most likely a juvenile.

It's amazing to me to know that they breed near here. It's almost more amazing to see some, and I assume that they're the same ones, flying over our backyard!!

Osprey Flying Over Manayunk Canal. Photo by Ken Januski.

Not quite as surprising but just as welcome a sight was this Osprey seen about a half mile downhill along the Manayunk Canal yesterday.

Two Juvenile Killdeer at Manayunk Canal. Photo by Ken Januski.

This time of year can also bring shorebirds and sometimes Night Herons to the canal so I've been looking recently. I've often suspected that Killdeer breed there. Yesterday that was confirmed when I saw these two very young Killdeer with one of their parents at the canal. They always look like a ping pong ball on stilts. I did a couple of not quite successful sumi field sketches which I'm not going to show here. But I wouldn't be surprised if they eventually appear in a print or painting.

July is often considered a dull time for birding. But that certainly has not been my experience.

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