Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Monday with Ospreys and More

On Monday Truman and I went to the Montlake Fill where I intended to do what I'd wanted to do a week ago Sunday -- walk around the loop trail in about an hour, and then go up to the UW campus to sketch.  I didn't do it that Sunday because Connie was at the Fill and we wound up having a lovely three-hour walk-and-bird-and-chat session instead.

Connie's car was not in the parking lot, so my plan panned out this time.  I did pause to do a quick sketch at the Fill itself when I spotted the fallen logs in the photo above.

As we resumed our stroll, I heard the call of an Osprey, and looked up to see this:

 The crows were not pleased about the Osprey's return to the Fill.

A second Osprey hovered nearby.  Eventually both birds flew off and all was quiet.

We neared the Southwest Pond, where the male Red-winged Blackbirds were busy announcing their territories to all who passed.

Suddenly I heard an Osprey call again, and looked up just in time to see the pair fly onto the nesting platform.


These birds look like the same pair that successfully raised three young last summer.  They were given the names Chester (left, for his pure-white chest) and Lacey (for her brown "lacey" collar).

After a couple of minutes they both flew off.  I do hope they return and raise another family this year.

Meanwhile, a bit farther along, I spotted two coyotes:


We successfully navigated the Fill in one hour, and then I went up to the UW campus, where Truman admired some cherry trees.

I decided to practice drawing arches, and the Suzzallo Library seemed like a good subject for that:

 I didn't get very far with this sketch, as there were two skateboarders in the square, and the constant banging and yelling disturbed both me and Truman.  Oh, well.

I'm sure I can find arches to practice on somewhere quieter some day.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Sunday Sketching

On Sunday the Northend Urban Sketchers ventured southwards and westwards all the way to the hinterlands of West Seattle to the Chinese Garden that graces the north end (see -- we still got "northend" in there!) of the South Seattle College grounds.

This is a truly lovely little gem that we first visited last summer.  It's small but full of delights, like this giant koi statue:

And these terracotta warriors:

It was a warm day as well, with very light clouds.  It felt, at last, like Spring.

I found a pond to sketch:

Truman tried to wander off at one point--in search of Nicole who had moved off down the path to draw elsewhere--but I quickly corralled him.

Then we sat inside those pagoda buildings, where, through a doorway, you can see the koi statue in the distance.

At one point, Tru discovered another pond which he could not resist.

Next we headed for a drive along Alki, and we stopped at a quiet stretch of beach with a view of the Olympics.

There were hundreds of Brant geese there -- these are winter visitors who ought to be heading north again any day now.

Truman is always concerned about where Tina and Nicole have gone -- they stayed on a bench by the car to sketch, while I tootled down a winding path to get a closer view of the beach.  As I sat there sketching, Truman kept looking back up to check on his friends.

We didn't stay here very long and I drew quickly.

It was so nice to have a rain-free weekend with warmer temperatures.  Hoorah for Spring!

Monday, April 17, 2017

Saturday Sketching

On Saturday the Northend Urban Sketchers (me, Tina, Nicole, and Truman)  hung out on Capitol Hill.  My first sketch was of the reservoir building at Cal Anderson Park.

Our second stop was the Lakeview Cemetery which abuts Volunteer Park.  I found a view from which I could see the back side of the Volunteer Park conservatory.

I made an artistic decision to sketch the conservatory and the trees around it while completely ignoring the cemetery itself.

It was a bit colder than we wanted it to be -- there were blue skies, but there were also a ton of clouds which kept obscuring the warmth of the sun.  Happily, the weather was warmer on Sunday -- which I will post about tomorrow.

Saturday was also Truman's fifth birthday!   I am so blessed to have him in my life.

Friday, April 14, 2017

In Between the Showers

Yesterday was one of those days we get here when it will be sunny for twenty minutes and then showery for a bit and then partly cloudy for a while and then it will rinse and repeat.  The weather changed so often and so quickly that it was difficult to plan anything, but I took a chance on going out anyway.

As I headed out the door, there were patchy clouds with blue holes.  As I drove towards Magnuson Park, raindrops fell on the windshield.  By the time we arrived ten minutes later, the rain stopped.

I heard a knocking sound and tracked it down to a tree where a Downy Woodpecker was hacking away:

Out on the lake, there were still a few wintering birds about, like this Common Goldeneye:

We walked for about half an hour, and did not get rained on.

It was quite birdy.  Here is a Bewick's Wren:

And this lovely eagle kept an eye on us:

Here is Truman by the submarine fin sculpture:

On our way back to the car, I spotted this Cooper's Hawk:

I decided to drive around through the old naval base buildings, looking for something to sketch.  It started to sprinkle again, and I was happy to find a parking spot directly across from this nice building:

We drove home in the rain.  A few minutes after we got home, the sun came out again.  For the rest of the day, Truman and I ran out back to sit on the lawn chairs during the sun breaks, and ran back inside during the showers.  What larks!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Monday and Tuesday Sketches

On Monday I went to the eye doctor to check out an inflamed pinguecula (and I learned a new word!), which turned out fine.  I arrived way too early, and noticed a fabulous aquarium in the waiting room which I could not resist.

When the assistant came to collect me for my appointment, he looked at my sketch and said, "In all the years I've worked here, I've never seen anyone do that before!"  Ha.

On Tuesday the sun appeared, so Nicole and I went to the Ballard Locks to try a bit of sketching and to watch the boats.

Truman joined the fun, of course.

It turned out to be a bit colder than we wanted it to be, so we sketched for only half an hour or so. We had this lovely partial view of the visitor center with nicely placed cherry tree as a subject:

I used the techniques learned in the class I recently took, and I like the results:

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

A Montlake Filled Weekend, Part 2: Sunday

On Sunday morning I returned to the Montlake Fill, hoping to get one more chance at a photo of the hummingbird mother feeding a youngster out of the nest.  The light was better, and while there were still twigs in the way, this time I managed to get a couple of decent shots.  Hurrah!

As I and a small group of birders were admiring the hummingbirds, a coyote turned up.

For the next half hour or so, as I made my way around the Loop Trail, I kept spotting the coyote, who was not terribly shy of people, at times getting within ten feet or so before loping off.

I kept Truman in his stroller.  I don't think he even noticed the wild canine nearby.

Here's a short video -- the coyote was about fifteen feet away at the time:


My original plan had been to walk around the trail, taking maybe an hour, and then go up to the campus to do some sketching.  But then I ran into Connie, who was in a chatty mood, and we wound up taking three hours to make our way around, stopping to sit on our camp stools to watch birds and chat here and there.

As we approached the nest platform used last year by the Ospreys, I asked her, "Is this about the time when the Ospreys might return?"   Connie said it was, but no one had reported any at the Fill yet.  Five minutes later, as we sat on a bench by the platform, an Osprey flew in.

Good timing!  From looking at my photos from last year, I don't believe this is either of the parents.  Perhaps it is one of their youngsters, all grown up and looking for a mate?  We shall just have to wait and see.

Further along the trail, we found more signs of Spring:  here is a Bushtit nest, and that little bird on the twig is in fact, a Bushtit.  They kindly obliged in my quest for a photo by always perching on the twig before flying into the nest.

Crows were also busy gathering nest material, and chasing off any intruders.  Here is a crow chasing off a Red-tailed Hawk:

And chasing off a Bald Eagle:

After about two hours of birding and chatting, I realized that my plan to go sketching on campus was doomed.  So I got in two very quick sketches while we were sitting around:

These took around ten minutes each.

What a lovely way to spend a rare, sunny Sunday.