I imagine this is what happens when one allows their dust bunnies to grow a little too large.
I had a hankering to do some illustration work, and this is what came out of it. May end up turning this one into a proper story (the mind tends to wander when absorbed in a painting, and I’ve already fleshed out a little adventure for these three). It’ll have to wait, though — I’ve got another story that I’m gunning to get out by the end of the year, so this one joins my already crowded back burner of someday projects.
A collection of moths from last weekend. Someone left the deck light on one evening, and by morning there was a variety of interesting critters clinging to the board and batten siding.
Bearing with my poor moth id skills:
Top left and centre right are (the same) Hickory Tussock Moth (loved that pattern so much I had to paint him twice). Top and bottom right are geometers (going with Crocus Geometer for the yellow one, and I think the other is a Mottled Euchlaena). Fluffy white critter at centre left is likely an Agreeable Tiger Moth, and bottom right is a Waved Sphinx. And the centre one is … a thing. I’m thinking prominent of some kind, but I really have no idea.
Moth ids credited to my friend Seabrooke’s awesome moth guide. Misidentifications credited entirely to me. :)
Spring migration typically peters out out by the time the May long weekend arrives, but it came early enough this year to coincide with the peak warbler push on the Bruce Peninsula.
I spent my first afternoon hiking the side trail that runs above Mallory Beach. Whether from the time of day or the chilly temperatures, the warblers were keeping pretty quiet, and I had my work cut out for me tracking them down. Luckily one can always count on the chickadees to let you know where everyone’s at.
Early the next morning I hit Bruce Caves. Still cold enough for numb hands, but at least the blackflies weren’t biting. I did a fair bit of bushwhacking to get a look at a singing Northern Parula (a bird that taunted me from the same location last year). Of course, once I found one, they kept popping up everywhere within easy view for the rest of the weekend. Tends to be the way it is with birding. Loads of Blackburnian Warblers kept me happy as well — gorgeous little flames in the trees. My favourite warbler.
Sunday I hit up Isaac Lake for the usual suspects and a few conspicuously empty ticks on my weekend warbler list. A Brown Thrasher popped up out of the scrub and began singing in the trees above my head as I walked the road. They’re typically shy performers, but everyone likes an audience on occasion.
When not out on the trails, I spent most of my weekend on the cottage deck with book and bins, doing some armchair birding. Waves of foraging migrants flit past in the trees overhead, and five warbler species I couldn’t stir up in the field instead turned up in the yard. My last for the weekend was a lovely Canada Warbler, singing his heart out as he bounced about the cedars.
Realized moments too late that the ink I’d used on the crows wasn’t waterproof — had to cover up my nice wash with some pasty gouache to fix it. Ah, well. Watercolour, pen & coloured pencil.
Shrikes are obscenely cute for something so ferocious, and I’m terribly fond of them. I spied this young bird streaking past while out searching for Snowy Owls on Saturday, and promptly turned the car around for a better look.
I only ever see shrikes during the colder months, and they tend to pop up unexpectedly. This one didn’t seem to mind my presence, giving me a good twenty minutes of drawing time while it twisted its little head about in search of prey.
A female Varied Thrush has been hanging out near the Guelph Lake dam since at least the beginning of last week. I headed out into the -22C cold Saturday morning, joining a shivering group of birders at the trail head as they waited around for her to make an appearance.
An hour and a half later, she’d only offered us one brief, branch-obscured glimpse. I took a break and headed to the nearest Tim’s for a tea to warm up. Willing myself to go back into the cold was a bit of a challenge, but she showed much better during my second attempt. Well worth it.
The thrush never stayed out in the open long, snatching wrinkled crab apples from the trailside before vanishing back into the scrub to eat them. It’s not the sort of weather that’s hospitable to bare hands, but I hate drawing with gloves on. I kept a handwarmer in my pocket to bring the feeling back to my numb fingers in between quick snatches of sketches.
I attempted a few photos as well, but there’s a reason I bring a sketchbook with me instead of a camera. Great bird!
I began this book as a summer project and intended to finish it for Carl Sagan Day back in November, but life inevitably got in the way and I slid past more than a few self-imposed deadlines.
I was paging through my copy of Carl Sagan’s The Demon-Haunted World when it occurred to me that his chapter on unfalsifiable claims — in which he posits that an invisible, floating, heatless, incorporeal dragon lives in his garage — would be an excellent premise for a children’s book. And so.
Read it here!
You’d think the deathly cold temperatures of the last few weeks would have driven the birds to the feeder, but my yard has been almost entirely empty since the new year. A milder spell this weekend finally brought back my usual flock of House Sparrows. Last month’s ice storm took down one of the branches on my lonely willow tree, and the birds seemed to appreciate the extra ground cover.