Tuesday, November 10, 2015

150 Birds, 2 Brush Pens, 1 Print

Pectoral Sandpiper at Morris Arboretum Wetlands. Brush Pen and Watercolor by Ken Januski.

There is one premier birding location in the Philadelphia area, John Heinz NWR, also know as Tinicum. But for us it's not the most enjoyable drive and almost always involves some rush hour traffic on busy highways. Perhaps the early morning traffic will be light but that won't be the case on the way home.

For that and other reasons we spend most of our time birding closer to home when we're in Philadelphia. We're very fortunate to have so many good birding areas, and just plain good natural areas, within a few miles of our house: the Wissahickon Valley, the Manayunk Canal and Schuylkill River, Andorra Natural Area, Houston Meadows, Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education, and Morris Arboretum to name the ones where we spend the most time.

We originally joined Morris many years ago for the vegetation. We're interested in flowers and herbs, but also in shrubs and trees, particularly native ones. But the more time we spent at Morris the more we realized that there were a lot of birds there, particularly near the natural wetlands near the entrance.

As our birding skills have improved, and as I've spent more time sketching the birds I see, our list of birds seen at Morris has grown. Recently we saw a Pectoral Sandpiper there, the 150th bird seen at Morris according to e-bird, and our 130th bird. The Facebook page for Morris recently howed a photo I took of the Pectoral along with my American Goldfinch Eating Thistle, based on a sketch from Morris. Above is a quick sketch using two different brush pens and watercolor of the Pectoral.

About a year ago Kenn Kaufmann wrote an article in Bird Watcher's Digest about all the birds that go unnoticed and unreported because birders tend to stick to known hotspots. I think that the 150th species seen at Morris shows how true this is. Birds are in many places, not just hotspots like Heinz NWR. It's really worthwhile to explore other areas, especially ones so close to home.

Morris has done a lot to develop/protect the natural wetlands area and I think it shows in all the birds that are now possibilities there. And it is a very beautiful place in every other aspect as well.

Winter Wren in Leaves. Third Stage of Combination Woodcut/Linocut by Ken Januski.

I haven't given up on the reworked Winter Wren print. But I have needed to let the ink dry between colors. This is a photo of one of the prints on good paper. It first was printed in black, from the original linoleum block. I then printed orange from a new woodblock. I then printed brown from the original linoleum block, but with some areas carved away so that the brown created by the orange on top of the black showed through. Now it is time to print just black I think, again after carving away more of the linoleum block. The ink is probably dry enough now on the prints. But I need to figure out what to carve away and how muck black to use, assuming that I don't decide against the black. Prints are always full of decisions, including abandoning a central part of the original plan.

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