Monday, January 30, 2017

Gulls and more gulls in Canada

I've been back from vacation for a week now, and didn't blog right away because of the chores waiting for me.  Then, the flu struck.  *sigh*  I can't even gather enough brain cells to upload my art shots from the camera, photoshop them, and then talk about them.  So instead, you get bird photos.

Part of the reason for going to Parksville on Vancouver Island is the wonderful bay that the condo property sits on.  There are always birds there and depending on the tide, I can see a variety of sea birds that are normally much further out from shore or the kind of birds that like the exposed shoreline when the tide is out.   The additional attraction is if the weather is rainy and windy, the bay is so close that I can grab a quick outing when the weather clears slightly so even the worst weather day can still have some good birds.

And I got to refresh my birding ID skills.  Especially with gulls.  It's not hard to tell that a bird is a gull rather than an eagle or a hawk or a duck.  That part is pretty simple.  But which species of gull?  That part is much, much harder.  Fortunately for me, I remembered what part of the gull to look at to distinguish the species.  And the gulls really like hanging on the rock formations off the point where the hot tub is.  Yes, that too is part of why we go here so I can bird in comfort.

So, what do we look for to tell which gull species is here?  Face it, they are usually white with grey backs and a yellow beak.  What varies?  The size and shape of the bill, the bill markings (the one below has a medium size wide bill with a red dot on the bottom), the leg color (clearly pink here rather than grey or yellow, altho telling the pink and the gray apart can be difficult in less than bright light), and finally whether the wingtips are darker or lighter than the back.  The wingtips look like they should be the tail when a gull poses like this but with this guy, his tail is white, the wingtips are the longer grey with white stripes part.  There's some other things to look for like shape and contrast of white parts on the back, and relative darkness of the grey back, and if you've got a scope the eye color, but legs, bill, and wingtips will get most of the distinctions you need to really narrow it down.  

I'm calling this one a Thayer's Gull, but I'm not experienced enough with gulls to be totally certain as there's some hybrids that look a lot like this.  Part of my reason for wanting to upgrade my camera this year is so I can zoom even closer on some of these birds and do my ID later from the photo.  Which is why I have so many gull photos from Parksville.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Dragons and more dragons AKA vacation prep

Today we're packing for a week out of town.  I got a new book, Dragonvale Art, visible at the left edge toward the front of the picture below, and it has inspired me to do some dragon sketching while on vacation.  I also wanted to play with my watercolor paints on actual watercolor paper rather than fabric so those got added to the supplies stack.

I am bringing along watercolor bars, Derwent Inktense watercolor pencils, the Dragonvale book, 2 small ceramic 4 compartment plates, sketching pencils and black markers, two plastic tubs of watercolor paints, lots of brushes, 2 different size sketchpads, 6 pads of watercolor paper of different types and sizes, my current dragon silkscreen and the black ink and the tools to screen with, 2 pieces of fabric with the laughing dragon screened on them, a piece of acrylic that I use to paint the fabric on and the blue tape to hold the fabric to the acrylic. And the fabric medium to add to the watercolor paints so they don't wash out.

In a recent Facebook post, I mentioned going for 50 dragon sketches this week.  Since the 50 collages week in my Fiber Arts program, I have gotten very comfortable setting myself impossible goals and seeing how close I get.  I assume I'll fail to make it but set the goal so my reach exceeds my grasp.  The 50 collages in one week assignment taught me that I can do more than I think I can if I just get going and see how far I go.

Speaking of reach, grasp, and the power of just continuing to make progress, I'm 35 page views away from 30,000 unique page views on this blog.   I started this blog in February of 2008 so it's almost 9 years of blogging.   A big thank you to those who have followed along and here's to another adventurous almost decade coming up.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Reading while healing - Diane Fallon series

I have plans for blogging about what I did in 2016 and what I plan for 2017 but  healing from what should be my last major oral surgery has delayed that, probably until after my upcoming vacation.  Instead, I'm reading lots and lots of not too challenging books.  Partly inspired by a craving for order and happy endings, I've gone back and picked up the Diane Fallon series by Beverly Conner.   The first novel in the series is pictured below.

This series is very close to the spirit of the TV show Bones whereas I don't think the books it was supposedly based on are at all like the series.  Diane Fallon is a forensic anthropologist who is giving up traveling to foreign countries to document mass graves.  Instead, she has taken over running a small museum in Georgia and as the series progresses, there is a crime lab added to the museum and she becomes the local bone analysis person.  And she dates an FBI guy.   I recommend this series over the Temperance Brennan series because I prefer the writing and characters.  If you liked the Bones TV show, you might enjoy these.

I see my dental surgeon later today so here's hoping things are going well.