I had good intensions of getting this posted a week ago, but I had trouble finding time to finish the drawings.
I can’t eat lunch in peace! We picked up shrimp cocktails at Chuck’s and a cup of hot chowder at Port of Call; then parked where we could see a grand expanse of Pacific Ocean. In a moment two whale spouts poof out of the grey water. It is migration time. Female grey whales are heading south to their calving grounds off the Mexican coast. I juggle binoculars, chowder and shrimp cocktail until I’m about four bites from done. A more immediate interruption pops up. Little birds are flitting across the opening in front of me. Is it a flock of bush tits? No. The first one I identify is a chestnut-backed chickadee. Hmmm. I’ve never seen so many together. This must be a winter flock of mixed birds.
I gulp down the last of my shrimp, an indecent way to treat a good seafood lunch, grab my camera and hop out of the car. When I catch up with the birds I verify there are at least three species: chestnut-backed chickadees, Townsend’s warblers and golden-crowned kinglets. I see a flash of color on two kinglets who almost bump into each other. Wow! My photos are fuzzy, but they catch the yellow and red on his crown. Part of the joy of being an artist is trying to capture moments of my life that I want to save. My fuzzy photos are enough to verify the intense color on his little head. I’ll paint him at home.
I try to keep up with the flock, but the little birds move all too quickly as they check out one food source after another. I have to be satisfied with having gotten close for a few minutes.
The robin and a hermit thrush feed on the dogwood berries. The robin tends to just land on a branch, lean over and pluck one berry after another. After he eats a few, off he flies, only to come back a couple of minutes later.
The hermit thrush is shyer than the robin, less apt to be out in the open. He flies out of the thick undergrowth and plucks a berry while on the wing. Then back into a sheltered spot.
I love it when the photography is on Dale’s side of the car and I can concentrate on drawing and writing. Of course I do get interrupted to make squeaky noises, pass equipment, pour tea, turn the motor off when he moves the car just a little, etc.
The chickaree finishes his big mushroom and comes back with a small truffle. Maybe someday I’ll finally get to taste a truffle.
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One of my loyal readers asked to see a photo of the chickaree ... so here is one from the same day. Some of you will look at it and say, "But that is a red squirrel!" They are very similiar, but chickarees are found along the West Coast. Their belly is cream or orangish instead of white. They are also called Douglas squirrels Tamiasciurs douglasi. ... so, Shris, you've almost surely have seen a chickaree and didn't even know it!