Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Birding Your Own Patch

Indigo Bunting on Cherry. Watercolor by Ken Januski.

Quite a few years ago I also painted an Indigo Bunting about this time of year. It seemed like a strong antidote to the cold and gray of winter. But I made this painting today more as a reminder of the value of birding your own patch as they say.

We used to see our first Indigo Buntings of the year in Shenandoah National Park in early May, often with temperatures in the 40s. It was a thrill to see them, made all the more thrilling by the fact that we knew we probably wouldn't see them again until the following year. We knew we wouldn't find any in Philadelphia, our home.

Now, less than 10 years later I guess, it's more a question of just how many we'll see in Philadelphia. I'd guess we see them at least 10-25 times each year, and always within five miles of our house. I often look through photos I've taken in winter, when it's difficult to do much sketching outdoors due to the cold. As I did so this year I've been impressed by how many photos I have of birds I once thought rare: Least Sandpipers, Indigo Buntings, Black-throated Green Warblers, Louisiana Waterthrushes, et al.

These were birds that we used to think that we needed to travel to see. But the vast majority of photos are from birds seen in Philadelphia. It is amazing how many birds are here. I'm not sure if that's true everywhere or if Philadelphia is slightly unusual. It really doesn't make much difference though. What's important to me is how rich the natural world is right in my own backyard.

The watercolor by the way is 9x12 inches on Arches 300# cold press paper. Though are a few things I'd like to change on it I think I've learned enough over the years to know it would be foolish to do any more work on it.

1 comment:

Sandra said...

Nice post. I agree - birds I find in my own area are more meaningful to me in the long run. I have small spots all over the county that I try to find new species on. (Saves on the pocketbook too!)