Saturday, November 26, 2011

Bonaparte's Gulls at Cowan Lake

Yesterday, Matty and I drove up to Cowan Lake. It was warm and gorgeous, and we wanted to enjoy the last of Indian Summer before the expected cold front sweeps in bringing rain and possibly snow...

Painting 199. Bonaparte's Gull at Cowan Lake, Field Sketch 2
(watercolor)

A small flock of Ring-billed Gulls and Bonaparte's Gulls were flying and fishing across the lake when we pulled into the parking lot by the dam. A Common Loon and Pied-billed Grebe were swimming and diving too. We hoped they would come in closer, but they had other ideas. Bonaparte's Gulls are so polite and refined...and cute! I loved watching them fish. This was the first time Matty and I had ever driven up to Cowan Lake, and we're definitely going back...

Painting 198. Bonaparte's Gull at Cowan Lake, Field Sketch 1
(watercolor)

November is a good time to see Bonaparte's Gulls in our area. They are migrating through and will spend some time at the larger lakes. Since they are not scavengers like other gulls, you usually get to see them doing a lot of fishing.

Yikes! What kind of photo is this? It's bad, but you can still pick out the identifying field marks for a Bonaparte's Gull in non-breeding plumage—the black spot behind its eye and the cute, cute, red-orange legs!

...same for this photo....bad, but the bird is so cute, and I wanted to show how easily it is to see the spot behind the eye. We were at the dam and the birds were fishing far across on the other side of the Cowan Lake. Good thing I had my paints to capture the moment, because the camera wasn't up to it!

In addition to the gulls, we saw lots of other birds, including a very sweet mixed flock of Brown Creepers, White-breatsed Nuthatches, Tufted Titmice, and Carolina Chickadees. We were sitting on a ridge on the Lotus Cove nature trail looking out on the large American Lotus colony (now withered and brown) when the flock descended. The Brown Creepers were first, their tiny peeps and musical chatter caught our attention, and we watched as they went from tree to tree, starting low and spiraling up through the branches.

22 comments:

Roy said...

I really like the way that the blue and black background makes the gull stand out Kelly, brilliant,

TexWisGirl said...

i am so amazed at your field sketches and paintings! what you can put together in a matter of moments is phenomenal!!!

Bob Bushell said...

The Gulls were very happy that you had been there to paint it. Brilliant.

KAT said...

I feel a rush of inspiration as I looked at the photo of the white gull with the tangled branches in the background. Could I base a painting off of it? I will honor your wishes. I like these out of focus photos so much.

- KAT -

Carol Mattingly said...

Those beautiful watercolors. I love them. I hope you have some framed in your house. Carol

Carole Meisenhelter said...

always special to visit somewhere new for the very first time. Your paintings are wonderful; have captured the moment for you beautifully (as always). Such an amazing collection of artwork you must have; I'm sure enough to collate a wonderful book.

Coy said...

They are such graceful beautiful birds. I alway love it when the bonaparte's happen to stop by the local lake as their heading north in spring.
May I add your paintings as beautiful as well.

DeanO said...

I love the soft out of focus photographs...and the paintings, as always, wonderful

Toni said...

Kelly, have you seen the Black-tailed Gull at Ashtabula Harbor?
You can read about it here.
http://northnw.wordpress.com/bt-gull/

Love your watercolors!

Gillian Olson said...

Beautiful; paintings.

Birding is Fun! said...

Nice bird! I just saw two of them myself along the Antelope Island Causeway on the Great Salt Lake.

Dan Huber said...

superb! love your artwork Kelly

dan

Larry said...

Gorgeous Kelly! That first watercolor captures the feeling of the Bonaparte's so well.

Guy said...

Hi Kelly

I really loved the way you captured the gull in your first painting. The colours and the pose were perfect.

Regards
Guy

Mary Ann Gieszelmann said...

The mention of Cowan Lake always brings fond memories. In the early 1950s, our brother Paul used to take me and our little brother Jim for rides in his car. He always said he was "trying to get lost"--just a fun way to get us all hyped-up. On one of these trips he found Cowan Lake, the first time he knew of its existence. It was undeveloped back then, and we always thought of it as a place we had discovered!

Marco Alpha said...

Hello Kelly,
These paintings are fantastic.
They are made very well, a beautiful work of art. Amazing!!
I think that it will be very nice hanging on the wall.

Greetings, Marco

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Hi There, We are home after a nice Thanksgiving Vacation... Hope you had a great Thanksgiving also.

Wow---those paintings are among my favorites that you have done... AWESOME.

Hugs,
Betsy

Chris said...

You really don't stop to amaze me with your painting skills! These are wonderful Kelly! Well done!

Kelly said...

....thank you so much--always such nice comments and encouragement. I know you'll be seeing a lot more photos from Cowan lake. It's only about 35 minutes from my house, so it's on the list! (Kathy...of course you can use a photo for inspiration! Mary Ann...my mom has stories of Cowan Lake too...and Indian Lake too. I was happy to finally get up there. I had no idea it was only 35 minutes away!)

Mary said...

Lovely! Your paintings are so beautiful and you capture the essence of every bird. I wish I had that sort of talent.

Montanagirl said...

Your sketches are always soooo impressive!

kestrelart said...

I really love the field sketches in watercolour or ink. They have a great sense of spontaneity, capturnig the jiz of the bird