Sketching Birds Around the Continent · 11 April 13

American kestrel, pen and wash I’ve been traveling for a month, visiting friends and family, availing myself of a 30-day Amtrak pass with 12 train segments. You have to be really fast to sketch from the train and a lot of the train sketches are blasted through in pen and colored in after the fact. This kestrel was seen from the train station at San Luis Obispo, where we stopped for about 10 minutes.

Bald eagle, pen and wash I kept a list of birds I saw from the train. Mostly large birds, of course, generally robin-sized or larger. The best bird from the train was the gray hawk that’s wintered in Carpinteria, California, but I was pretty jazzed about the sooty shearwater I saw off the coast west of Santa Barbara too, and the bald and golden eagles (Colorado and Nevada respectively). The short-eared and burrowing owls by the side of the tracks on the east slope of the Rockies were also pretty exciting, one after the other.

Brown rosy-finch, pen and wash My cousin Maggie drove me up to the Sandia Crest from Albuquerque where I saw two life birds, brown and black rosy finches. Lots of other notables I didn’t see from the train, including American woodcock at my sister’s in Maine, pileated woodpecker at Dave’s in Pennsylvania, fish crows and more bald eagles at my brother’s in Juneau (no trains to Juneau, I flew there with my mother).

Crowd looking for fieldfare in Carlisle, MA, pen and wash

Pine siskin, pen and wash There were great extremes of temperature on this trip. I spent a day with my friend Linda looking for, but failing to find, a fieldfare in Carlisle, Massachusetts. It was sunny but bitterly cold. Marcia Bonta’s feeders had a good selection of sparrows and other passerines, feeding furiously in the snow. A roadrunner sang its mournful song on the banks of the Rio Grande in Albuquerque; it was close to 80° F.

birds at Marcia Bonta's, pen and wash

Steller's jay, pen and wash It’s not the best way to bird if you’re looking for quality sightings, but I didn’t take this trip to bird. Birds were with me all the time, though, and I tried to sketch as many as I could. A small sample is included here. All sketches were made with a purple Pilot G4 pen with a watercolor wash.

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Condors and Vultures · 11 February 13

Condors and vultures, pen and ink Doodling during a meeting when there were vultures and California condors on the screen…

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Flickers in the Dew · 31 January 13

Northern flicker, pen andink

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Red-Shouldered Hawk on Pole · 23 January 13

red-shouldered hawk, pen and ink

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Crows on a Cold Morning · 15 January 13

American crows: pen and ink

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Turkey Vulture · 7 January 13

Turkey vulture, pen and ink A turkey vulture perched on the phone pole and sat there for a while — enough for me to get a couple of sketches in. I love these birds.

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A Trip to Lodi · 3 January 13

We went to see some friends who were house-sitting near Lodi on Sunday. Ron and Joe are great birders so after some bread, cheese, olives and zinfandel jelly, we went out birding.

Drake Common Merganser, Derwent Coloursoft on Canson (Drake Common Merganser, Derwent Coloursoft on Canson) I sketched this common merganser along the Mokelumne River, not quite sure of the state/county park’s name. It had been resting on a log but took to the water as we approached.

We stopped by the Woodbridge Road sandhill crane preserve. We were a little early for the fly-in but decided to drive all the way to the end, where we found a good flock of sandhills. On the way back, several more had come in and we had four very close to the road. By then the thin winter sun was starting to set, casting a gorgeous purple/pink hue over everything, including Mount Diablo to the west. I need to get some purple/pink Canson paper, obviously.

Sandhill cranes, Derwent Coloursoft on Canson

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Western Bluebirds · 30 November 12

Western Bluebirds, Carbothello on Canson paper
Finally got my bluebirds done for the Yolo Audubon fall drawing next week… This is pastel on Canson paper.

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Shorebirds at the Wastewater Treatment Plant · 19 October 12

Shorebirds at Woodland WWTP, Carbothello I took a friend to Woodland today for a medical procedure. I had a couple of hours to kill so I went over to the Woodland Wastewater Treatment Plant, where a Sabine’s gull has been reported. I didn’t see it but there were lots of birds and it was pleasant (if a little hot) to sit and draw them, with more leisure than I usually allow myself.

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Young Yellow-billed Magpie · 16 October 12

Yellow -billed magpie, Derwent colorsoft

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