Friday, February 10, 2012

Busy, Busy, Busy

Sometimes life gets busy. Good busy, but too busy. It started Saturday, January 28. Dale and I were leading an Audubon field trip, our annual ‘Raptor Run.’ When we arrived at Plat I the sun was beginning to win the morning struggle to burn off the fog. Will-o-the-wisps of steam rose from the damp ground and dissipated into the thinning fog. We both noticed how beautiful … but kept our attention on our fellow birders and the birds. It wasn’t the appropriate time to sketch or take photography seriously.

We returned to Plat I on Monday, but the fog had lifted by the time we arrived.
Our next try was on Thursday, February 2:
Damp. Chilly. Greyness fills the valley. Snags on the far side of the pond are so pale, I can’t see if any eagles are perched there today. The water lies still, repeating every bird on its surface. Sounds carry through the fog, bringing me more birds than those I can see. Above me rides the sun, a faint glow in the grayness. I can see the dark forms of cormorants resting on a spit, great blue herons fishing, and some ducks.
It’s a beautiful morning. While Dale photographs I sketch … and then turn to my paints. I almost succeeded in finishing the little painting at the top of this post before we hurry off to our appointment at Wildlife Safari. We are responding to a call to photograph several new animals that are to be part of their new Australian exhibit which opens next month.
Sometimes volunteering can be fun; hectic but fun. Our first stop was a visit to the wallaroos. I’ve seen kangaroos hopping about on film. A wallaroo looks like a kangaroo, but is only about four feet tall. Bong! Bong! Bong! They almost flow as they jump about. We’re right in the pen with them.
I don’t want all my shots to looks as if I’m peering down on the wallaroos, so I sit on a handy crate. Now I’m eye level with the little fellas. One comes hopping over for a good look at me. He stops and then, “Thump!” He stomps an extra loud stomp. I can’t help but wonder if I’m going to get the next stomp. But, no. Off he goes. What funny creatures they are.
With wallaroos dancing in my mind we move on to the next stop – a cockatoo who thinks people are just wonderful. He flares his crest, opens his wings and bows low. Such a beautiful bird.

Next in line is a kookaburra ( a large kingfisher). He doesn’t think much of our presence. He keeps moving to which ever end of the cage we aren’t. But that is all right. Our camera lenses are big enough to follow

The cockatiels just sit …. But the last bunch of birds make up for the cockatiel’s indifference. Have you ever been is a small room with 200 budgies! It’s deafening. The air actually stirs with all their chattering and flitting about. Some are true to their nickname, ‘Lovebird.’ They cuddle together on a perch looking as if they belong on a Valentine’s Day card. Others are trying to be the best acrobat in the bird world. I feel as though I’m looking at every color in the rainbow. There are green ones, blue, yellow, aqua … So pretty.
Our Wildlife Safari keeper, Shannon, still has a little time so we top off the day by getting a few photos for another department. First cougars! Johnny peers at us when we arrive, and then strolls over hoping we’ll tickle his ears. But this time we have to stay on the other side of the fence and it’s hands off even though he would just love that tickle. His companion, Mesa, just had a little tiff with Johnny. She sits on a high platform and gives us all a good snarl. Oh to be so close to such beautiful cats.

Two more species, bobcat and coati, and then we head home with over 400 photos to weed through, edit the best and turn them in to Wildlife Safari as soon as possible. We did take a day off for the Super Bowl and another to go to the coast, and presented a slide show on Tuesday night. Yesterday we finally turned in the photos and I get to take a deep breath. No wonder I’ve been feeling a little busy, but good busy.


  1. Hi,Elva,
    Always your post is interesting and full of wonderful drawings. The first one is so beauitful. I did not know the word, "wallaroo." (*only knew "wallabies" and kangaroos.)Kookabura often sings around. You and Dale have to come to Sydney!

  2. Loved reading of your adventures and seeing the magical painting and animal sketches. Thank you.

  3. I felt like I was right there with you. How exciting to go photograph these beauties. I have only been to Wildlife Safari once but loved it. Your Art work is wonderful as usual. You do keep busy. :)

  4. Hi Sadami: According to Wikipedia kangaroos are big, wallabies are small, and 'wallaroo' applies to three species that are medium sized. But you are from Australia, so you should know best!

  5. I always enjoy your wonderful stories as much as your sketches! You and Dale get to do some exciting adventures...thanks for letting us tag along!

  6. Love these sketches Elva. That cougar is a wowzer. Your commentary is always so fun too.

  7. I love your animal drawings, especially bird ones with free lines.