Sunday, March 29, 2009

Wilson's Snipe, Eastern Meadowlarks, and Voice of America (VOA) Park

Saturday morning Rick, Matty and I ran over to VOA Park (the old Voice of America site) to see if we could flush and photograph a few Wilson’s Snipe. I had seen two there the week before and wanted to show them to Matty and Rick. Well….we flushed them, but they were too fast and zig-zaggy for me to capture on film. So instead, you get a field sketch of what I wish I had been able to photograph!

A quick field sketch of a Wilson's Snipe

I love these strange birds with the long bills. When they flush they burst up with a raspy squawk. I think I’d like to spend a couple hours in that meadow just being very quiet and still, waiting for one to return to the flush area. I could put down a little blanket, hunker down in the weeds, and just listen and wait (did an image of Linus and the Great Pumpkin just pop into your head...because it did mine...).

A Little Beak Bit
Here are some interesting tid-bits on the Wilson’s Snipe taken directly from The Birds of North America Online:
The name “snipe” is derived from “snite,” a variant of “snout,” and refers to the long bill of the bird. The French and Spanish names are derived from bec, “beak.” The snipe’s long beak has sensory pits near the tip, a character shared with other sandpipers, which help individuals detect prey as they probe in mud for small invertebrates. The eyes of the snipe are set remarkably far back on its head, providing full vision to both sides and a binocular overlap to the rear. This arrangement enables a bird to detect the approach of a predator while its beak is fully buried in the substrate.
Since we were in a marshy meadow, Meadowlarks were all around. At first I could just hear them calling back and forth, but soon one popped into view. He was pretty far away, so the photos aren’t the best, but you can see his deep yellow and black bib.




We had a lot of fun. We stayed at the top part of VOA park (the small ponds and wetland that borders Tylersville Rd...right next to the monstrous strip mall). Amazing something so beautiful nests so close to a heavily congested area.

Matty was happy because he was squishing around in the mud...


15 comments:

Kallen305 said...

Lovely sketch. I have never seen one of those before. I could spend hours at various locations on a blanket myself. You sun has wonderful, curly hair!

Laure Ferlita said...

I love the energetic strokes in your sketch! It gives the feeling of drawing quickly before the subject gets away - Kelly, this is just awesome!

Looks like you had a fun day! Hopefully, we'll get to see more of your field sketches soon!

Tutta la Storia said...

What a beautiful sketch! I really need to get back to the drawing board. Fun blog!

Kelly said...

Kallen...thank you! He was a lifer for me a week or so ago. I was very excited when I saw him...accidently flushed him. Matty has gorgeous hair...not me...mine is long, but completely straight!!

Laure...Thank you!!! I drew if fast without worry. Just trying to capture his image. I was really excited to find this bird. It was a lifer for me.

Tutta...thank you (and thank you for stopping by also)! I visited your site too and it's wonderful!

Mary said...

Wonderful photos of the meadowlarks! They are such beautiful, cheerful birds and their song is lovely. That's a great sketch, too!

Jayne said...

I've never seen a snipe. What a great sketch! Love the meadowlarks and used to have them come under my feeder where we used to live. Their song is so lovely.

Warren Baker said...

Great birds them Meadow larks! The Snipe are much the same over here as the ones you describe, right down to the zig-zag flight and rasping call.

Tutta la Storia said...

Hi Kelly, YES! That's the book! "Little Cottontail". My Dad sends my boy vintage storybooks all teh time, and that is one of my favorites, from my own childhood! (Not quite vintage, but old and sweet, nonetheless.)

Shellmo said...

I loved the Wilson Snipe Sketch - I admire that you can whip these up in a flash!

Heather said...

What a great sketch. We saw the snipe's kissing cousin, the American Woodcock, on Friday evening up near Old Man's Cave. They look so much alike! We stood out in the rain for well over an hour, and he finally decided to answer the call that the naturalist was playing. It was awesome. Life bird!
I love the shots of the Meadowlark, too. I've not yet seen one of those in person.

nina at Nature Remains. said...

Great sketch, Kelly!
I'm in awe of your talent--your knowledge, writing, and now sketching? Great job!

Kelly said...

Mary...thank you! They are cheery! They were singing their hearts out. I love their call...

Jayne...thanks! You would love to watch them and listen to their funny little squawk. With the sketch, he's a bit out of proportion, but it gets the idea across.

Warren...they are great...beautiful looking with a beautiful song. They always seem a touch exotic and special to me. That's why I like them.

Tutta...Yes, "Little Cottontail!" I had that book as a child, and I bought it for Matty. We love it! Definitely a favorite. I couldn't believe I still remembered it from my childhood!

Shelley...thank you!! It's fun to do. Again...not perfect, but you get the idea of the bird.

Heather....Oh man! I wish I had been with you. I have not yet seen a Woodcock or watched his amazing flight displays. The Wilson's Snipe was a life bird for me.

Thank you, Nina!! I've always liked to paint and draw (and birds have always been my favorite subject!). I love writing a blog because I'm in constant learning mode and am researching all the time. As an aside...I'm glad your spotted salamanders are back!

Chris said...

Simply wonderful... wooow The drawing is magnificent and what about the lark pictures!!! At least you saw the guy and got some shots of it!! Well done.

Kyle said...

Great shots of the Meadowlark and the Tousle-haired Matty, Kelly. And I love the field sketch of the snipe! I've never mastered the 'art' of quick sketching -- my pencil- and/or ink-work is always a long process, so I've never even tried sketching birds in the field. In fact, I've been enjoying the photographic arts so much recently that I haven't even opened my sketchbook in months. I've definitely got to do something about that!

Kelly said...

Chris...thank you! I need to do more sketching. Before blogging, I didn't take as many photos. I did more writing and sketching.

Thanks Kyle! You need to crack open that sketchbook. When I do field sketches I never worry about total accuracy. I always go for the feel... (cute pic of your cowboy on your site!)