SKETCHBOOK 5 – BESIEGED

The pictures I drew don’t show it, but we are under siege by a huge number of grackles and a flock of Brown-headed Cowbirds who showed up a couple of days ago, much to my dismay. The Blue Jays looked like they were willing to put up a fight, but were so outnumbered, they gave up. Ironically, the Blue Jays have become the guardians of our deck.

My first (and only) watercolor “test”

This first picture was a test to see how well my sable brushes would handle watercolors. I didn’t want to waste “the good watercolor paper” on a test, so I used basic sketching paper. It’s obvious why you need heavy paper for watercolors. Otherwise, the brushes worked very well and the image has “potential.” Not ready for prime time, but a good test.

Meanwhile, back in the flat feeder, the Cowbirds and the Grackles were battling for the few remaining seeds. I was exhausted. This is a terrible time of year for this to happen. The annual bird count is during the first week in February, but what can I count except a massive number of grackles and now, after I was sure I’d managed to get rid of them, the biggest flock of cowbirds I’ve ever seen.

Yes, she is blond and I’m not, but I haven’t mastered white hair – yet. I call this Woman Going and I’m not telling you where

My repeated inability to draw a picture of a squirrel was so frustrating I decided to try some plants — orchids (sans buds) and Anthurium. I also decided to try a person (me, actually) — but from the back because I’m NOT ready for faces! Especially not mine.

Just one flower on the Anthurium. Holes in this page, too

There is little remaining for me to do except to let the feeders empty out and wait until the grackles and the cowbirds leave. I hate doing this in the middle of the coldest part of the winter, but none of the other, smaller birds are getting much to eat anyway. As it is, I’ve cut down on how much food I’m putting out. Whatever I put out, the grackles and the cowbirds will consume.

I have no idea how many grackles are in these woods. Some days, with the trees bare of leaves, the trees look like they have grackle-shaped leaves. I’m sure we have hundreds of them and since I can’t count them, maybe thousands. I have reported this through Cornell’s Ornithology group and they assure me this is a really big flock. Much bigger than usual, though they didn’t tell me what “usual” means. Whatever it is, I’m pretty sure I’ve got it beat.

Leaves of an orchid

My orchids are looking extremely healthy but showing no sign of setting buds. They aren’t due to bloom until spring — April — but I wouldn’t mind if they hurried a bit. In the meantime, they might as well be models for me. These are colored pencils and pen. The weird looking snakelike sprouts are something the orchid does, but it’s not to set buds so I’m not sure of the purpose.

Tired of taking pictures of grackles and even more tired of cowbirds — I was sure I’d finally gotten rid of the cowbirds — I haven’t even picked up my camera except to take pictures of my sketchbook. I feel like taking photographs of the marauders is somehow rewarding them for bad behavior. Obviously the birds don’t care whether I take their pictures or not, but I care. And besides: every minute I spend photographing them is a minute I haven’t shooed them away.

So it goes. I keep hoping I can look out a window and not see a deck covered with Grackles and Brown-headed Cowbirds, but I think it’s a forlorn hope.

I’ll just keep drawing pictures and hoping I get better. On the up side? Drawing is a great thing to be doing while you sit there on a “brief” hold that stretches into hours and amidst “discussions” with “customer disservice” workers. Try not to make holes in the paper.



Categories: Arts, Cats, Flowers, orchids, Pets, Sketchbook

Tags: , , , , ,

13 replies

  1. I haven’t been blogging much lately, so have missed your recent sketches and watercolors. I really like them!

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  2. America’s got talent.., and some of it resides in my friend Marilyn. Nice sketches.

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    • See? I KNEW it was you 😀

      Thank you. I’m working on it. I think my eye is improving. I’m getting the “shape of things” better, but I never get eyes right — and I’m terrible with feet and hands — and paws and claws. I think they are even harder than faces for drawing.

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  3. America’s got talent.., and some of it resides in my friend Marilyn. Nice sketches.

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    • Now if ONLY I knew which friend you are. Ben maybe? Am I right? I hope so! Still having issues with WordPress’s comments? They are taking what was a good, solid website and “fixing” it to death.

      Thank you for your kindness. I can draw. I suppose my problem is I want to draw a lot better, but I’m not sure I have the talent — or the persistence. I want my drawings to look like the ones in the bird book I use. But of course, they ARE professional artists while I just wish I was 😀

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  4. drawing must be so sootheing! Sorry about the birds taking over your deck. Xx

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    • Well, they left last night and there were only two of them today. That doesn’t mean they won’t come back because they have come back twice before, but meanwhile, I got a couple of grackle-free days. They aren’t bullies to other birds, but there are so MANY of them, the are overwhelming — and they eat like crazy. They are beautiful and I appreciate that, but they do consume a staggering amount of food.

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  5. I think your pictures are very good, Marilyn. Sorry about the gackles and cowbirds.

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    • Thanks! I like the Grackles. They are beautiful and aren’t bullies. They don’t attack or fight with the other birds. It’s just that there are so MANY of them and they eat an awful lot of food — AND they will eat pretty much anything, including your leftovers from dinner. When hundreds of them land on one 12X12 foot deck, it’s overwhelming. On the other hand, at least they are beautiful!

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  6. it’s just easier to hold a pencil than a brush. But I still have to learn to paint at least a little bit. I have great paints but it is also more time consuming and by the time I get to this, it’s usually pretty late in the day.

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  7. Your painting of “you” is great. The other drawings are excellent too. Love how you’ve graduated the colors and shades.

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    • Thank you!!

      I’m working at it. I won’t be a great artist. I did NOT miss my true calling. But, I’m really enjoying this course and at least the pictures look like what they are supposed to look like, more or less. Mostly, it really IS fun. I have to paint a bit more, but I think I like drawing better than painting. Funny since I used to paint. You just never know till you try 😀

      Liked by 1 person

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