Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel is a west coast specialty and resident year round in Northern California. Probably the best reasons to celebrate this little gray bird is that it is among the most easily identified of our ocean “Swallows”. Darting between the waves and only rarely alighting on the the surface, it is cloud gray and shows a sharp division between light and dark. It has something akin to Buller’s Shearwater-type plumage… truly unique among Storm Petrels.
Buller’s Shearwater, or the “gentleman’s Seabird”. Dressed in elegant black and white, with a stately attention to fashion and form, this seems to be many folks’ favorite Tubenose. I have to agree… The form is delicate, slender, refined… so why did I cake on the quick and loose pencil strokes? I don’t really know. I guess I’m trying not to labor over individual feathers and portray more motion and form if possible., even it’s a bit inexact. Maybe I’m just being lazy, but I’m having fun doing it.
Imagine a supremely rare bird, the Hawaiian Petrel—all angles, speed and movement—puncturing the bottom edge of my 17″ x 14″ tablet with its million-mile wings, and you’ll have an accurate picture of me trying to sketch something so wild that it needs broad emotional strokes. Saturday’s Hawaiian Petrel seen on Alvaro Jaramillo’s Half Moon Bay trip was a lifer for most folks on board and the highlight of my weekend.
The single Long-tailed Jaeger we had this weekend on our way to the Farallon Islands was a glorious adult. Not nearly as fierce as the Pomarine or Parasitic, this offshore predator is content mostly chasing Arctic Terns. Important field marks are the trim build, not nearly as muscular as the other two Jaegers, the lack of a breast band, the grayish upper wing coverts that contrast sharply with the secondaries, and the two white shafts on the outer primaries. I probably over-worked the hot-press paper, but I wasn’t striving for great detail.
I did some more work on this juvenile Sabine’s Gull portrait. I wasn’t satisified with the contour of the forehead, or the bill. As well, I thought the scalloped pattern on the back needed to be a little more forward. Finally, to emphasize the brightness of the white, I put a diffuse ocean color in the background, which nicely highlighted the slightly brownish tones on the back. I hope it is an improvement, since it is entirely too late to go back to what I had before…
Juvenile Sabine’s Gull from Saturday’s pelagic trip out of Half Moon Bay. I think the juveniles are even more beautiful than the spectacular adults. The delicate scalloped pattern on the mouse-gray back is not visible until you are quite close, so I chose to de-emphasize it. Foreshortening wings is about the most difficult thing for me, but I’m happy with the result. The portrait was done with a number of photos for reference.