Friday, April 06, 2012

What happened to March?

I lost count of how many times in the last few weeks that I thought about doing an update. Unfortunately, my work life exploded with activity and overran my days and nights for much of March.  The sudden barrage of demands did not just attack my time, but my energy... it took so much of me to slog my way through the muck that by the time I'd reach the other side of things I simply didn't have a coherent blog-worthy thought to share.  My true introverted nature turned to retreating to recharge - books to escape into, art projects to distract my mind - and that is how a month slips through the cracks so completely.

Now, focusing on the highlights of the month...

It took a bit of time, and several attempts, but at the beginning of the month I finished a piece I call "Breaking for Lunch"

This is a collage of 6 separate photographs I took of a crow at the beach.  He would take a shell, fly up into the air, then drop it on the rocks below in an attempt to crack it open.  I put the images together by printing them onto transparency sheets, transferring them to water color paper, then painted the whole scene with watercolor paints.

Working on this project was frustrating at times (the transfers didn't always work) but it was incredibly therapeutic.  At the end of the day I could turn my back on my office and escape to the cool basement filled with art supplies and soothing music, and allow the anxiety to drift away.  I enjoyed the process of it... the practicing to get consistent results with the transfers, the challenge of getting all the photos to work on one sheet, the experimenting with color to help convey the tone and texture of the day.  The ATC's I made prior to this carry with them some instant gratification, but having a larger and more detailed project to work on gave me something to look forward to at the end of the day.

At the end of the month, I celebrated my birthday.  To be honest, I was still in such a retreat mode that all I wanted to do was be someplace quiet... no hosting, no party, no cake - just quiet.  Lucky for me, the weather broke the weekend before my birthday, so D, G and I set out to spend a Saturday bird watching/photographing at a nature preserve a little south of us.  I had high hopes for the trip, as I'd heard there was a family of Great Horned Owls living just off one trail.  Some helpful birders had posted on websites as to where to find the nest, but when we arrived at the volunteer center we were informed that the owlets were out of the nest and we'd have to search them out in the trees.

D turned out to be the Master Bird Spotter... while standing on a wooden boardwalk amongst 4 other birders with scopes, we all squinted and squirmed and searched the tangle of tree branches while D glanced up for about 2 seconds, pointed and said "What's that bit brown spot in that tree?"

The larger frame is what my camera saw, this is shot through a 300mm telephoto lens (which illustrates how far the bird was)  I enlarged just the baby owl and put it on the image as an inset so it's easier to see.  The babies are still rather furry looking and have not developed the tell-tale "horns" yet, but they are out of the nest.  I wish I could have gotten a better shot, but I'm still extremely excited to have spotted one in the wild at all.

Another great find of D's was this bittern, hunting in a small pond next to a very populated area:
There were quite a few people walking on the path behind me who never noticed this little hunter at work.... at least, they didn't notice until D said "What kind of bird is that?" and I popped up my telephoto to get a shot.
That is the great thing about birding at a nature park on a busy day, by the way... plenty of other observers to point out creatures that you might otherwise have missed.

All in all, we walked over 4 miles that day, myself carrying around 30 pounds of gear total, and I managed close to 6 GB of photos.  Some of my better photos were of this bittern (the series of shots is already up on my site) some tree swifts, a turtle, a variety of ducks, and several Great Blue Herons.  We also had the pleasure of observing many bald eagles and egrets.  Although they were too far away to get any really clear shots, it was fantastically amazing to watch them fly and interact with each other.  It was absolutely the most perfect way to celebrate my birthday and was exactly what I needed.


Brightdreamer said...

Congratulations on accomplishing something with your month! (Keep meaning to do that, myself...)

Stupid bird question: have you seen any Rufous hummers around your neck of the woods? We usually hear them 'round about St. Patrick's day, but so far we're still only seeing Anna's. I know they're having some trouble, especially with their wintering grounds, but I'm getting a little worried...

Jade said...

I haven't had any Rufous in my back yard yet, but I did see a couple at the reserve. They were buzzing around right at the beginning of our walk within about 20 feet of the visitor's center.

Brightdreamer said...

We actually finally spotted a couple of Rufous today... not nearly like we used to have. (And not enough to displace the Anna's - we have at least one nesting nearby, but we can't track down where.)