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Sunday, 31 March 2013

Drawing and More Drawing

The last 2 weekends, I got in a few hrs of life drawing. Both on the still life and on a portrait of my boyfriend I began a few weeks back. Still both have a ways to go.

Monday, 25 March 2013

Saw-whet Owl

Had a real nice weekend and what made it extra special was seeing the little Saw-whet owl. It was definitely So unexpected and a thrilling end to a nice weekend which included taking my daughter shopping for gifts for 2 friends' birthdays, getting together with friends of my boyfriend, and having our newly adopted calico kitty share our space, as well as our usual walks.

We went to a couple areas, saw the turkeys with the juvi males all in their colours, saw the barred owl land in a tree as we headed home, and listened to the hoards of red winged black birds that have landed here recently. The barred owl flew from a couple spots, landing in one tree which pissed off a blue jay already occupying it. We were shocked to see the jay attack the owl, hitting the owl's body as it passed it. I didn't react quick enough to get a shot as it was unexpected. The owl barely paid the jay any mind but did fly off after a few moments, after the jay gave up and took off to further trees.

The topper though was the tiny, cute, adorable little Saw-whet. We were so shocked to find it in what to me seemed a very visible and vulnerable spot. It slept peacefully, recessed a bit on a branch in a pine tree. We watched it for a little and took a couple photos. It opened its eyes only half way, once, when a couple kids on bikes rode noisily by totally oblivious to it. It immediately continued its sleep and we went on home, hoping it would be ok where it sat. It is just the most adorable little thing, so much so that it was hard to believe it was real, and is a predator lol!

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Red Tailed Hawk Surprise

Last weekend, we decided to go to a different location, a park down in the east south end of Scarborough, for a change of scenery. We ended up parking and basically turning around as we reached the top of the steep park entrance path - I'm just Not keen on people's large dogs running off leash :-( I had had a feeling we would encounter that there too, similar to the whole of Greenwood, because it isn't signed as a sensitive wild life area. I am just too scared of strange large loose running dogs and it is a terrifying anxiety filled venture then, unfortunately. So, we headed back to Whitby, and the Lynde Shores/Halls Rd. areas again as we'd spent a lot of the time driving already.

Lucky we did because we ended up seeing some pretty cool and exciting things.

As we stood on the bridge over the water at Lynde Shores, John spotted a red-tailed hawk fly across from one side to the other, landing in trees on either side of the narrow marsh. We waited to see if it was going to attempt to grab one of the many mallards below. Walking into the path, John spotted it fly over the forest path and swoop at a Canada Goose. It then went into the forest area and hung around on some low lying fallen brush and tree branches. A possum was looking through the debris on the ground, the hawk seeming to not be concerned with it at all. It then flew into a tree just above where I was standing. I got a couple images of it before it again took off. We thought it may still have been a juvenile one, from its behaviour and the head markings and yellow still present at the beak.

At the marsh, 4 of the Trumpeters were up on the roadway, hunting for food. Probably the babies from last summer we think. There were also 2 adult pairs in the water, mutes and trumpeters. The ducks were crazy as usual and we saw a weirdly marked male mallard, maybe a mix of some sort. We also saw hybrid female mallard/american black duck mixes.

There were also rabbits, squirrels, American Tree Sparrows, chickadees - as usual. One funny sight was a sparrow bathing in a small amount of icy and dirty water on the ground.

What began as a sort of disappointing outing ended up being a fun one back in our usual haunts.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Feathers and Stone - Drawing from Life

During our walks we have found a few items we've kept, mainly as sentimental reminders of a particularly memorable or exciting experience on that day's outing.

We have a couple swan feathers from The Mill Pond in Richmond Hill, a beautiful smooth white quartz stone from the shore line near us, and the other feather here is a Flicker's feather that I found outside my old work on Milner in Scarborough.

I set up these items on an old wooden cereal crate that my Grandparents gave me 20+ years ago, from Port Colborne, Ontario, where they lived and where I visited them when I was a kid and teen. I just am using an ordinary table lamp to light the objects and create cast shadows that are interesting to draw. It is just being done in B, 2B and 6B pencil.

It is enjoyable to do an hour or so every Saturday and or Sunday, after being out on hikes during the early part of the day. It'll take some time to complete it.

Part of the inspiration to work with natural objects such as feathers was seeing Canadian artistTom Forrestall's work one day a couple weeks back after my boyfriend and I dropped off his latest completed painting at his gallery on the same street. We dropped in to a couple other galleries, gabbed with people he knows, and that is where I discovered the gorgeous little feather and spoon paintings, as well as the scare crow and raven painting of Tom's. He is an artist who I had forgotten from college when looking at Canadian painters during art history.

Drawing from life is challenging, especially when one's eyes have changed and become older, but it is a real enjoyable exercise on a weekend afternoon. It keeps one's observation skills well honed as well.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Woohoo a Chipmunk - First Sign of Spring 2013!

Last weekend, we went out for a walk in one of our favoured areas. There was still quite a lot of signs that winter was still here, namely the stark and frozen marsh and cold, monochromatic landscape.

In the midst though, with the mild temperatures, there were signs of Spring - always exciting to see! One was some buds on a bush/tree, the 2nd were male blackbirds, both themselves and their loud unmistakeable chatter. The 3rd, and unexpected, was the sudden appearance of a chipmunk near the path. Just as I commented that in a couple weeks or so, as we did last year, we'll soon see the chippies out again. Not 2 seconds had passed after my comment when there ran a chippie out of the brush, stopping to check out the snow still left on the ground. We tossed it a peanut but it paid no mind of it, and ran back into the brush. So cool to see what I always think of as a sure sign or Spring!

Lots of other cool things to see too, both alive and inanimate. We also came upon Mergansers, the closest I've ever managed to view them, as we drove over the marsh on our way home. Boy did they take off fast though!

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Frenchman's Bay a Couple Weekends Ago

Not often do we venture to Swan's Marina or Frenchman's Bay as it tends to be a little more busy with people traffic, consumerism, etc. However, we do love the restaurant there, especially in Summer, and as well, Massey's is awesome.

We decided to take a trek out there again and have since been a couple different times in the last 2 weeks as we had heard a Snowy had been seen around there off and on recently. When we first began walking to the pier in Whitby, after having been living in that vicinity for 6 months or so, we spotted a snowy owl one morning out on the rock spit. I did not own a good enough lens that would fit my digital SLR during that time period and managed to grab a couple far away shots with a manual 105mm lens I used mainly for shooting awesome portrait painting reference images on my old film Nikon. However, I had trouble focusing as my eyesight isn't so perfect any more  not that it ever was lol! We miss seeing that gorgeous creature on our walks as it is not there this winter, so we wanted so much to see another again if possible. This time maybe I'd get a better memory keepsake shot since I now have a slightly better chance with a newer 300mm lens.

On one occasion  the snow began falling and it was quite windy. Both times we saw ice fishing out on the bay. We didn't see the Snowy at all, but it was cool to see the Trumpeter swans, especially seeing them fly. We also spotted a mink run across our path 2 times but I was so stunned I just stood there and did not get any photos lol! We also ran into 2 people who let us know that there were 2 minks hanging around under the walkway that goes over the water. We sadly did not get to spot them. Hopefully one day. I was so surprised to learn just recently that we actually have minks in Canada lol! A Merganser sat out in the bay on one visit, preening itself for quite some time, then swam off.

There are tons of ducks there. We especially love seeing the Buffys.

One thign we did see is a beheaded Long Tailed duck on the cement outcrops, the head in one spot, part of the body and feet in another. Perhaps a gruesome endorsement to the Snowy Owl's presence after all. I did take a photo but probably it is a good idea not to include it on here :-)

Earlier this year, we were lucky enough to see a Black Swan in Frenchman's but it seems to have moved on or been rescued, one or the other, and is hopefully ok somewhere.