Thursday, October 25, 2012

Immature Little Blue Herons, photos, sketches, and a watercolor

Once a month, I'm a contributor on the Birding is Fun blog. I often forget to publish those posts on Red and the Peanut, so I'm going to try to add them in every now and then. Here's a post from way back in July:

Little Little Blues are white...
Early this June, Matty, Rick and I went to Hilton Head, SC for our vacation. I visited the nearby Pinckney Island NWP every day to watch the birds nesting at the Ibis Pond rookery. The Little Blue Herons were especially active this year, and the deep slate-colored adults could be seen sitting on nests, preening while they perched at the end of branches, flying overhead with long twigs destined for other nests, or just fluffing up to transform themselves into ridiculously attractive birds, but it was their snowy white offspring that I really paid attention to. The white-feathered young Little Blue Herons were busy flapping their wings, hopping from branch to branch, and waiting and begging for food...

Two young Little Blue Herons stretch and flap their wings. If you look at the tip of the wing feathers, you can see the identifying blue-tipped feathers.
Two young Little Blue Herons stretch and flap their wings from branches near their nest. They were not yet airborne, still gaining strength for their first flights. Here they were watching an adult that had just landed a few branches over, no doubt hoping for food!
Notice the identifying field marks of young Little Blue Herons: greenish legs and feet, and dark-tipped wing feathers
Little Blue Herons have white plumage while they are young and retain the white color for their first year. They often nest with Snowy Egrets, but it's not too hard to tell the two white birds apart. Look at their legs, Little Blue Heron babies have greenish legs and feet. They also have dark blue-gray tipped wing feathers. It's often hard to see the dark-tipped feathers when the birds are at rest, but when they stretch, it's easy to spot the dark tips on the wing feathers.
With the wings folder, it's hard to see the dark-tipped wing feathers that identify this bird as an immature Little Blue Heron, but they are there.
...with the wings folded it's a little harder to see the dark-tipped wing feathers on a young Little Blue Heron, but if you look closely at the farthest end of the wing, you can see the dark tips among all the white.
The nice thing about a rookery, is the birds stay put for you! All this posing and sticking near the nest makes it easy to sketch and draw them. At Ibis Pond on Pinckney Island I love to sit down, set up the scope, and get out the sketchbook. Here are a few quick sketches of the two babies...

...from my sketchbook, pencil sketches of young Little Blue Herons.
...pencil sketches of immature Little Blue Herons
...quick field sketches of immature Little Blue Herons still clinging to the nest site.


...a very quick watercolor painting/sketch of an immature Little Blue Heron
Immature Little Blue Heron (watercolor heightened with black and white conte crayon).
...painted this from a sketchbook drawing earlier this summer.

...and adult Little Blue Heron in full blue plumage is puffed up to a full display of feathers and color.
...and here's papa fluffing up in all his blue grandeur!
(I took this photo last year at Pinckney, but it's one of my favorite fluffing-up shots.)


II have lots and lots of Hilton Head birds sitting in the archives patiently waiting to get out. I need to hunker down, focus and bring those photos to life! (...I still have lots of cool birds, insects, turtles and snakes to write about from Magee Marsh in Toledo, Shawnee State Park in Ohio, and Greenbo Lake in Kentucky too...I'll never get caught up!)

19 comments:

Mary said...

Oh, wow....how cute! What wonderful photos. Would love to visit this place.

Bob Bushell said...

Lovely birds, beautiful.

Kerri said...

WOW! Stunning captures! I want to go there!!!!

Guy said...

Hi Kelly

Great post I loved seeing the stretched out juveniles on the nest and dad was magnificent.

All the best
Guy

Lois Evensen said...

Incredible images! The babies are darling, but that last one of Daddy is fabulous!

TexWisGirl said...

your images are always so wonderful, but your sketches and paintings blow me away!!!

Gillian Olson said...

The herons are beautiful, young ones and papa, and your drawings and painting are wonderful.

Janice K said...

I'm so glad you decided to share that post. I remember some you posted from there in the past..Those birds are beautiful beyone belief! Wow!

Montanagirl said...

I would love to visit this area as well. Beautiful photos and drawings Kelly!! Keep 'em coming!

Carol Mattingly said...

Kelly sometimes I stop by your blog but when I'm on my iPad I have a hard time commenting so please forgive me. I really really enjoyed this post a lot. I hope you'll put more up on your rookery visit soon. Carol

Roy said...

Love the sketches and that watercolour is just superb Kelly.

Pam Johnson Brickell said...

Amazing images, Kelly! So love your confident sketch lines and such a great watercolor sketch. Your use of the conte crayon for the head feathers is perfect!! Sorry we didn't get a chance to meet up. Working full time isn't allowing me much time these days. Can't wait to see more of your work!

American Swede Photography said...

I always love your posts! My kids and I like to pour over your photos and drawings and learn the little tidbits you share with us. This one I especially loved. The babies made me laugh out loud with their funky head feathers. They must have been comical to watch!

Elaine said...

Fantastic shots and wonderful sketches! I love the babies with their cute little wispy topknots and the photo of papa is just superb!!

Marco Alpha said...

Hey Kelly,
What a very great shots of these herons!! They are really fantastic to see. And what a wonderful paintings, that's very well done!!
This is enjoyment Kelly.

Greetings and have a good weekend,
Marco

Chris said...

HI Kelly,
Wow those sketch are simply wonderful once again... I'm very impressed and inspired ;-) The blue dad is amazing too and funny to see the little blue fellow in their white robe! Beautiful post...

Hilke Breder said...

I just love that last shot! Heavenly blue! The youngsters in their white splendor are enchanting! Beautifully done.

Banjo52 said...

This guy's name is Dude. Hey, it just crossed my mind: no matter how silly a critter might look, you always respect his dignity. Does that sound right? I think you science folks are better at resisting the urge to put a human twist into everything.

I do look forward to watching you catch up. I've gotten slow too, but I don't have a good reason.

Kelly said...

...thank you, everyone. These two babies were adorable. I have so many photos of them, and spent so much time watching them. I wonder if they both survived through the summer and made it until now. I hope so. I love these birds at every stage in their lives!