Sunday, January 24, 2010

Wishing for Warblers

I've only seen four species of warblers in my life--the palm warbler, the common yellowthroat, the American redstart, and the yellow-rumped warbler. I'm also almost positive that I once observed a magnolia warbler in nonbreeding plumage, but was too inexperienced to make a positive ID then; it's only from my sketches and notes I took at the time that I'm able to deduce the identity.

I started birdwatching less then a year ago, but was quickly enchanted by the charm of these diminutive little songbirds. It's easy to see why birders become infatuated with the group. I'm hoping to brush up on my skills and add many more to my list in the spring. In particular, I would just about die of happiness if I were to see a Blackburnian warbler:

Charcoal pencil and soft pastel on paper.

It's the name that so instantly captivates one while flipping through the index of a field guide, and no one could argue that these are one of the most striking and brilliant of the warblers. Unfortunately they don't too frequently visit my neck of the woods, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I might get lucky enough to see one during the New River Birding and Nature Festival coming up this spring in West Virginia.

Friday, January 1, 2010

More works on wood, in the woods

A few new installations for the Nature Exploration Area at Brookside Nature Center! These are a pair of plaques that I painted on chunks of red oak that Jenny salvaged from a fallen tree. They're installed in the NEA high off the ground, to simulate where someone might observe a screech owl or flying squirrel in real life.

Here's the Eastern screech owl (gray morph), painted approximately life-sized--about 8" head to tail:

A close-up of the face:

The work-in-progress (note the cool bug holes, probably made by ants):

And here's the pair of Southern flying squirrels. The nature center has a pretty active population of these guys; you can attend flying squirrel programs with the naturalists and have a pretty good chance at seeing these unobtrusive, nocturnal critters. (They are impossibly cute.) These, too, are approximately life-sized (about 5" for the body, 3-4" long tails):

And a side view, to show the neat curve of this particular piece of wood: