Saturday, November 29, 2014

Oregon Ridge Nature Center - Birding for Beginners - Sketching in the Field

Quick - does the Blue Jay have a eye-line?  Describe the bird without using the word blue.  Does it have any markings on its throat? 

Many times - we see a bird hundreds of times, but don't really SEE it.  That was one of the purposes for our workshop today at Oregon Ridge.  By sketching in the field, we tried to quickly identify features such as posture, shape, wing bars, eye rings/stripes, crowns and other aspects of birds.  Our goal was to focus our attention on the bird to see more details.

After trying to describe a Blue Jay without seeing the bird, we then proceeded to quickly sketch it from photos using notes from Mary Kokoski's drawing class from a few years ago:

Take a look - were you able to describe a Blue Jay correctly?  Photo by Dave Gigliotti.

As we headed outside, we came across a cooperative subject.

Doris - you were right - the wattle hangs from the neck/throat area.  The snood is what is hanging from the forehead.

Other birds seen and sketched today include: 
Canada Goose
Turkey Vulture
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Pileated Woodpecker
Blue Jay
Carolina Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
White-breasted Nuthatch
Carolina Wren
Northern Mockingbird
Northern Cardinal
Dark-eyed Junco
White-throated Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Red-winged Blackbird
American Goldfinch

Thanks everyone for the fun time today.  Here is the website I mentioned for more information on sketching:

And the class on sketching through CMBO:

Thank you Oregon Ridge Nature Center for the use of your fantastic library.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Patterson Park Friday Bird Walk

Brrr - it was in the low 30's with a small breeze as we started our walk this morning.  As I was waiting for the participants to gather, a large flock of Robins and Juncos flew over.   I've seen large groups of Robins in my own neighborhood lately, searching for berries to sustain them for their journey to points south.

The trees were in various stages of color.  Some completely free of leaves, others a brilliant orange or red like this one, and a few still holding on to their green.  A few Hermit Thrush were seen perched on low branches or below the trees.  We also spotted a Gold-crowned Kinglet on our walk down to the lake.

The Boat Lake looked beautiful as well.  We spotted Mallards, a Coot,  and the persistent Muscovy Ducks and hybrids.  The Ring-Necked Ducks and other migrants should be arriving shortly.

The Great Blue Heron was frozen in this position while we walked on the boardwalk.  An Eastern Phoebe was darting for insects nearby.

One of the Muscovy hybrids that seemed to be following us.  Some of his (or her) offspring can be seen in the background.

A surprise as we walked back towards the fountain!  I was hoping to see an American Woodcock - but we usually spot them near the Boat Lake.  These interesting birds unfortunately commonly crash into the buildings in Baltimore City during migration if the lights are left on at night.  We wish this one well.

Species total today - 18. 
View this checklist online at

The next walk at the park will be with Audubon staff on Thanksgiving weekend - Saturday, Nov. 29th.  Work off those mashed potatoes!