Monday, December 4, 2017

Sketching Hoodies (Hooded Mergansers)

Proud little duck, he half rears out of the water and shows off his crest.
Dale and I are sitting next to the same little pond where we watched the red-shouldered hawk struggle with a giant bullfrog just a few days ago.  Today a dozen hooded mergansers are the players on the pond. They are busy diving on the far side of the pond. I feel like Morris, our long ago orange tabby cat.  He used to sit on our living room windowsill and quiver – licking his chops at all those delectable birds just inches away on the other side of the glass. 

My problem isn’t how close the mergansers are;  instead, they are too far away.  They really aren’t all that far but Oregon’s winters are damp and cloudy.  Even though it is early afternoon I’m struggling to see the ducks clearly thanks to low light and high humidity.  I can’t see them well enough to sketch.  We hope the clouds will drift on and the mergansers will come closer.  Meanwhile we eat lunch, nap a little, and watch an encounter between two of the drakes.  It just isn’t an opportunity for sketching.

.... but all is not lost.  Dale took a bunch of poor photographs.  He’ll probably toss them all, but I’ll keep a few for awhile.  They are good enough for me to draw from, far better than I could see while sitting there.  ...  and I still feel like Morris, the cat.  I’m itching to download my camera chip, flip open my laptop and start sketching.  I can at least do that!

Note:  after I got home I quickly penciled all these images … and then inked and painted in spare moments over the next few days. 
Two drakes come scrambling out of the far bay.  One obviously has a fish and the other is hot on his tail, hoping to take it away.
No it’s a frog.  The hoodie shifts his frog from sideways to head first and tries to swallow.  He flips his head up and tried again.  They zig and zag on the far side of the pond, one trying to swallow his frog and the other giving him no peace.


That was abrupt!  The hoodie drops his frog and swims off. 


The second hoodie doesn’t waste a moment.  He grabs the frog, or rather, he attacks the frog.  For three minutes he beats, thrashes, pulverizes, …..  The frog stays in one piece but obviously has become more malleable. 


Now it’s his turn to try and swallow the fog.  

The drake tips his head back and slowly gulps the frog down.


Well, most of the way down.  He looks pretty silly swimming around with a fat neck and two little feet sticking out, one on each side of his bill. 


  1. Wonderful series of sketches Elva, I love the determination of the duck trying to eat the frog.

  2. Beautiful sketches and a nice post, Elva! Cheers, Sadami

  3. Just two feet more! Fun story and great visuals, Elva!

  4. I didn't want the story and pictures to end, better than a movie or video!

  5. May have been short but it was so full of life. Wonderful Elva.

  6. What a wonderful series of sketches, Elva. I love Hoodies as they look like cartoon birds to me. We get some here for a brief time. In fact, they should be arriving soon as they arrive once we have some snow but before our river freezes.

  7. Wow! A great tale and so well told. Your sketches are wonderful, and the last one is worthy of one of Lita's stories!

    The portrait at the start is perfect.

  8. A picture is worth a thousand words! Wonderful vignettes!!

  9. Wonderful series of drawings and observations!