Bewick’s Wren

Bewick’s Wren at the Palo Alto Baylands today. The delicate checkerboard pattern typical of Wrens was clearly visible on the wings and tail of this feisty little bird. I also enjoyed watching as it wagged its tail from side to side. It’s hard to tell whether this bird is facing partly toward us or partly away… i think if I had drawn the ventral side of the tail it would look more natural. Oh, well. Too late now.


Sage Thrasher


At least four Sage Thrashers were in the area around the new restroom on BLM Road in the Panoche Hills today. One popped up in a bush beside our car. We took that as an challenge to sketch fast. Also present further up the road were very cooperative Sage Sparrows. We had other great birds today like 4 Cassin’s Kingbirds, 2 Bald Eagles, and several dozen Common Mergansers at Paicines Reservoir. The Panoche Valley floor produced many Lark Sparrows, two Vesper Sparrows, one dark morph Ferruginous Hawk, at least 3 Prairie Falcon and hundreds, yes HUNDREDS of Mountain Bluebirds widely spaced.

Mew Gull adult

There were many Mew Gulls at the Radio Road ponds today. I love these small gulls, their dove-like features, and the fact we only see them a portion of the year. They make our Western and California Gulls look like thugs. Hooded Mergansers, Eurasian Wigeon and Barrow’s Goldeneyes were also in the area.

Black-necked Stilt

The final image in a step-by-step presentation on field sketching for Sequoia Audubon Society. The exercise was for everyone to draw what they could remember from brief looks at a photograph. The original photograph was shown to the group several times until their sketch was complete. It was interesting to note which features were more difficult to remember. Gaps in understanding, such as eye or position and head shape, were quickly revealed.

California Condor No. 199

I wanted very much to sketch this bird from life, but I didn’t have my pencil or sketchbook with me when I was leading the group to the overlook. Several members of my group managed to get stunning images of the bird as it flew directly overhead, and I cheated a bit by looking at them when I got home to make this sketch. The Turkey Vulture is actually closer to us than the Condor, which means the size discrepancy is huge! The story behind this particular Condor is remarkable and can be found at: