Sunday, May 15, 2011
Biggest Week in American Birding
It advertised itself as 'The Biggest Week in American Birding.' Being a bit of a skeptic I would normally take such a phrase with a huge grain of salt. But we've birded the area around Magee Marsh and Ottawa NWR in NW Ohio numerous times in the fall and have seen a lot of birds. And we've both heard and read that it is far, far better birding in the spring, in particular for warblers.
So this year we planned our vacation to put us there for most of the first two weeks of May. Since this time coincided with The Biggest Week in American Birding we registered for it and a number of talks and trips, all for a very low price.
I really want to showcase the field sketches that I did there but I also want to commend everyone who was involved in planning the week. Much of the success of our trip was of course the birds. But for anyone like us, who signed up for various walks and talks, mainly by Kenn Kaufman, I also want to give credit to the humans involved. They did a wonderful job. I'm sure it was an exhausting 10-11 days for everyone at Ottawa NWR, Magee Marsh, Black Swamp Bird Observatory and all the others involved. For us it was a resounding success and we'd like to commend all of their work in making the human side of it run so smoothly.
Anyone who follows this blog knows that both I and my wife love warblers and that I hoped this year I'd finally get some good field sketches of them. I'd guess we saw about 500 warblers during our time there, many within 6-12 feet. Though the boardwalk at Magee Marsh got incredibly crowded at times it still was an extraordinary chance to see and sketch warblers.
When there is such a wealth of subject matter close by it's sometimes tempting to just take photos. And I took about 350. Or at least I kept that many. But on numerous days I forced myself to just look and sketch and not get out the camera.
So without further ado. Most of these are done from looking at the bird, trying to get a mental image, and then putting it to paper. Inevitably I make mistakes in working this way. But I am improving.
At top a Prothonotary and a Magnolia warbler. Face on Magnolia needs some work.
Below a Nashville warbler seen from below, at least 50 feet up in the trees, as well as a Black-throated Green warbler.
Below a Blue-headed Vireo, Bay-breasted Warbler and Semipalmated Plover.
Below another Black-throated Green, Chestnut-sided and what I think was a Philadelphia Vireo. I used the sketch to help figure out what it was, basically a Warbling Vireo with an eye that seemed too big.
And finishing off today's sketches an American Woodcock and a Least Flycatcher below.
This includes about half of my sketches. Soon the other half. I've written in the past about how fieldsketching has been a struggle for me and how I've finally gotten comfortable with it. That really proved true here. There are numerous mistakes in these sketches. But there also is a wealth of material for future prints and paintings.