Monday, August 31, 2015

Confusing Fall Warblers, And Vireos

Warblers and Vireos at Morris Arboretum. Sumi Brush Pen and Watercolor Painting by Ken Januski.

I ran into a large number of migrating warblers and vireos at Morris Arboretum last Saturday. But I had hardly any satisfying views of any of them. Some, for example a Blackburnian, were just too high in some Tamaracks to see well. Others were down low, right at eye level, but they were so active and there was so much foliage that again it was very difficult to get a good look at any of them.

The 12x16 painting above gives some sense of that. A Nashville Warbler in the lower right corner was the best seen bird, with the possible exception of the Warbling Vireo in the top right corner. The other were just yellow blurs, or a tail with black edging, perhaps fluttering wings.  Some of the quick looks were tantalizing, for instance the largish yellow bird at center top, but as soon as they were seen they flew behind other foliage.

Most likely the yellow bird was a Canada Warbler, especially as we've seen one at Morris two other times during the last week. But I can't say for sure.

Because of all of this uncertainty I decided to paint just that: uncertainty.  So I'm not trying to portray a recognizable species at center top. Instead it's reminiscent of what I saw. The fluttering wing at lower left and tail at top left don't indicate specific species. They represent instead the real experience that you can easily have at this time of year. Uncertain clues, here and gone before you know it. But that is the thrill of looking for warblers and their sometime companion vireos at this time of year.

This is another in my series of sumi brush pen and watercolor paintings. All but the Nashville warbler are drawn from memory. I used some of my own photos of Nashville Warblers as a minor reference. But in it also I tried to keep it free as in a drawing from memory.

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