From My Journal

I can’t claim to be much of an artist, but I have been known to make sketches in my journal when the mood takes me.  Sunday afternoon I was possessed by a desire to make ink sketches of the skimmers and oystercatchers I’ve managed to snap photos of recently.

Quick and dirty.  I just wanted to try my hand at capturing some of the different poses and angles.

Anyway, if I may blow my own horn for a moment – today a recent post of mine (this one) was featured on the official blog of the American Birding Association, in their semi-weekly bulletin “filter[ing] out some of the best of the recent blogosphere for the wider ABA audience.”  Between that and the very nice things that were said about this blog in the call for submissions to this month’s Festival of the Trees, I’m in danger of developing a swollen head!


This afternoon, after I got off work, I put on three extra layers of clothing and my wool hat and braved the cold, wind, and rain to walk on the beach.

Yes, I swear my camera was not set to black and white when I took that photo – it really was a grayscale landscape.  The advantage to going on such a dreary day was that I had the beach all to myself, at a time when the unsettled weather meant that the waves had been dredging all sorts of pretty things up onto the shore.

At the south end of the island, I was surprised and delighted to spot several Laughing Gulls whose black hoods had almost completely grown back in – a sure sign of spring? – plus there were about half a dozen skimmers around, which I hadn’t seen for a while.

By far the best find, however, was a knobbed whelk shell as long as my hand, the biggest once I’ve ever come across.  When I spotted it it was mostly buried in the sand, and I couldn’t believe my luck when I pulled it out and discovered that it was intact, empty and whole and perfect.

I’m not a big shell collector most of the time.  What would I do with boxes full of shells?  Better to leave them for the hermit crabs, who can put them to good use.  But this one, heavy though it was, absolutely had to come home with me.  When I flipped it over…

…its rough gray outside revealed an impossibly brilliant red-orange interior, one warm spot of color on the grayscale beach.


When I started this job, I bought a little notebook of unlined paper to double as journal and sketchbook.  I can’t claim to be much of an artist; the only time in the past I’ve done anything resembling nature sketching was when I took ornithology in college and used drawings to record data on, say, feather maintenance behavior, and those were basically the bird equivalents of stick figures.

Yeah… obviously birds that are on the ground sitting relatively still are easier to draw than birds in flight.

Inanimate objects are much easier.