American Pipit drawn from life at Byxbee Park today. I love these birds, and the fact that they WALK, which is uncommon among our Passerines.
This drawing of Yellow-billed Loon is a combination of yesterday's head and swimming studies, and some preening, flapping studies made this morning. What a cool bird! — with Kenneth Petersen and 8 others.
Northern Pintail at Palo Alto Baylands today. It took a while to figure out what I wanted to sketch. By the time I had settled on this male, I only had ten minutes. I really wanted to show the bird preening, but it was time to get back to the office...
I had very little time to sketch today. Despite the larger drawing's shortcomings, I'm pleased with this quick gesture in the upper left of the page. I'm enlarging it here, so you can see EXACTLY how bad my handwriting is... I'm finding real joy in these quick renderings, which take only seconds, and occasionally capture much more than expected.
One of the highlights yesterday on outer Point Reyes was a small flock of Varied Thrushes at Nunes Ranch. I made this sketch from memory after we got home. I'm not sure I got the bizarre wing patterning correct, but the basic idea is there. It's been a while since we had one of these lovely birds spend the winter in our back yard... maybe this will be the year they return.
A Western Tanager was calling repeatedly from somewhere behind our house this morning. I was too sleepy to search for it from the window, but heard it give it's "prid-dit-tick" for about 5 minutes around 7:00A. Also calling was the Hermit Thrush giving its wheezy "swee" phrase.
Say's Phoebe at Bayfront Park today. I love how this species never seems to get more than about 2-3' off the ground, and perches on the tiniest little twigs in dry gassy areas while it watches patiently patiently for insects. The wings are slightly longer than they are on Black Phoebe, making its flight a bit more buoyant. The soft peachy wash on the flanks is quite beautiful.
A Hermit Thrush arrived in our back yard sometime early this morning. We could hear it calling from the orange tree just before dawn. Since we sleep with the window open, we can pinpoint the date for new wintering arrivals pretty accurately.
Yesterday, we got a tip from two birders that a Philadelphia Vireo was working the "new willows" grove beyond the Elephant Seal overlook at Chimney Rock. We were at that time winding things down, and just about ready to leave the RCA tower grove. Nope! We made a dash back to Chimney Rock, deployed our team, and within minutes EVERYONE in our group, including me, had a lifer! What a beautiful, bird, and far less of a challenge to distinguish from Warbling than I feared. It only took 34 years...
I've been trying very hard to sketch on-the-spot as I look at my subject. NO peaking at the field guide, no after-the-fact drawings... and a few things are becoming obvious to me... I just CAN'T draw feet, and bills continue to be a challenge for me, particularly with smaller Songbirds where the tolerances are so small. This Black-throated Gray Warbler was no exception. I find in addition to my normal failings, I've completely garbled the facial pattern... Oh, well. I'll just have to try again. You should too!
Field sketch of Loggerhead Shrike today at Byxbee Park in Palo Alto. The bird moved off its perch at bit too quickly for me record more detail than this. Before it left, I watched it capture a large bug in flight and return to its look out to devour it. Then something else caught it's attention and it sped off.
After seeing my first-of-season Golden-crowned Sparrows a few days ago (all immatures), I decided to head back today to do a sketch. This is one of the adults I saw.
During lunch yesterday I made a quick tour of the Palo Alto Baylands. Despite being caught in the drizzle with a corduroy jacket, it turned out to be a nice day for birding. I found my first-of-season Golden-crowned Sparrows in the fennel patch, singing their famous rendition of "Three blind mice".
There were 21 Cackling Geese today during lunch at Byxbee Park today. They were all dark-breasted, not a single white collar to be seen among them, so I'm assuming they were B.h.minima. They were associating with a flock of Canada Geese by the wooden posts along the main channel. Also present was a Say's Phoebe . This link has a nice summary, and NA map showing rough breeding areas of the various subspecies. Many other resources exist showing this information, I just liked this map. The Geese are not drawn to scale... obviously.
I saw many Semipalmated Plover at the Palo Alto Bayland mudflats today. Last time I sketched this species was on April 28 of this year—the day learned of Ted Chandik's death. Comparing this sketch to the last, I believe I see some improvement. I'm sure Ted is behind it somehow. Thank you, my friend. You continue to inspire me.
Looking back at the sketch I made previously, I see I made an error with the facial pattern on the more recent bird. The lores should be dark... oh, well. Hopefully I won't forget that next time...
Lincoln's Sparrow is one of my favorites. Today's subject popped up in the fennel patch at Palo Alto Baylands when I pished a few times. It straddled the fennel branches just like a Nelson's Sparrow, and in fact, has some of the same colors, although less intense. The sketch was done immediately after seeing the bird, and colored at home on the computer.