Sunday, June 23, 2013

Sketching birds

The plan was to spend an hour or two sketching flowers at the  Georgia State Botanical Garden.  The roses are in full bloom now and they were my target.  The roses are in the new terraced garden, at the far end from the lower parking lot.   As I walked along the winding garden path on my way over to the rose garden I heard an irritated chirp chirp chirp.  As I got closer I caught fleeting glimpses of a small yellow bird flitting from branch to branch.  Stopping only to emit a few abrupt chirps before moving on.

Since I had binoculars but not a camera or bird book, I decided to take a few notes and do a quick sketch of  the bird.  This should be quick and easy I thought, and I could identify the bird when I got home.  Well 30 minutes later I was still working on the sketch.  The bird was small, fast and dodging around leaves and branches giving me glimpses of only bits and pieces.  It lead me up and back down the garden path several times.  I did however, with the help of the binoculars manage to take enough notes that with my pencil sketch I was able to identify the Kentucky Warbler (Geothlypis formosa).   This was a new sighting for me, so it was well worth my time.

The yellow underside without any spots or stripes, the black mask that extends down the neck like side burns, and the yellow stripe that wraps around the eye were the distinctive characteristics that helped me identify the bird.  After reading that these birds nest in bushes near the ground I realized the bird was trying to defend a nest (which I never saw).  This also explains the mohawk hair style the bird was sporting.  I never heard the bird's normal call, since it was so irritated with the foot traffic along the path.  

I did finally make over to the roses, but by then it was hot and there isn't a lot of shade in that area of the garden for comfortable sketching.  The roses sketching would have to wait for another day.

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