Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Rookery Snippets

On May 14th, I spent about an hour at the rookery sketching while looking through my birding scope and a lot of time just observing the Wood Storks, Great Egrets and Anhinga.

I witnessed storks on the ground playing tug-a-war with a large stick. The winner flew off with it, landed in a large pine and then propped the stick so it balanced while he(?) preened!  It just doesn't get any better than this for me.  I could spend the whole day there being a fly on the wall, so to speak :)

I''m practicing a new-to-me sketching technique.  I'm using my eyes as a camera and hoping the snapshot I take remains in my brain well enough so I am able to capture my subject on paper.  From these initial tries I think I will be building better memory skills, too.

Step one: look.  Step two: close your eyes and turn your head to face your sketchbook.  Step three: very important.... the first thing you look at is your blank paper.  Then you use your recall to sketch what you saw. Wowza, I can't remember anything!!!  Right now, my comfort zone is one eye looking through the scope and for the most part, sketching my subject using the blind contour technique.  But. practice I will. I have the burning desire to capture birds on the wing and this technique will get me there.

The best?  Saw my first ever Roseate Spoonbill!
We have a token Roseate that hangs out with the storks.  It appeared on the ground while I was watching the tug-of-war game.  The RS is a lot smaller than I thought it would be.  This one had the slightest blush of pink on it's wings.  Every now and then a stork would run after it.  Definitely low in the pecking order of the rookery.

The SC Department of Natural Resources (DNR) studies the storks on a weekly basis.  Last week the volunteer that does these studies was able to read a leg band on one of the storks.  It turns out that the stork was banded on Harris Neck Wildlife Refuge..... are you ready?,,,,, 17 years ago!  Cool :)


  1. Wonderful sketches, Pam! I'll have to try your 'snap shot' approach. As you well know, field sketching is in my blood. I'm always looking for new ways to get better.

    1. Thanks, Elva! It's time for me to move out of my comfort zone. David Rankin's book "Fast Sketching Techniques" has some great tips. One of my favorite field artists, Debby Kaspari, uses this technique all the time. Wish I knew how to add a link to a reply. Check out 'Drawing the Motmot' to see her work.

  2. Great sketches and I love your determination to be able to draw these "on the wing". Sounds like a fun day watching the playing and winning - hope the roseate finds a mate, too.

    1. Thanks, Rhonda! I am determined :) There is a small flock of Roseates just north of us. Hopefully more will come our way.