Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Return of the Cormorants

One by one (or is it two by two?) the summer residents make their way back to this area. Here is a pair of Double-Crested Cormorants on their favorite perch at Lake Waban. They are beautiful birds to draw because their bodies are angular and shapely and they like to hang out, dry their feathers and strike these marvelously dramatic poses.

Here are some drawings from last summer:

Friday, April 13, 2012

Hello Stranger!

A Great Blue Heron at the South Natick Dam
13 April, 2012
I spotted my first heron of the year at the dam this morning. It was sunny and cold. The river, having been warmed by yesterday's rain, was covered by a shifting layer of fog being pushed around by the breeze just above the water's surface. I settled on the retaining wall and took a sip of my coffee. I looked up and there was a  heron, "plain as the nose on your face", behind the island facing the dam. He stayed just long enough for me to open my sketchbook and draw the outlines of the rocks, his bony angular neck and and dagger-like bill. I spent the next 45 minutes trying to get the other details of the scene right.

The water is low. There are already long tendrils of algae clinging to the barely submerged boulders. Sticks and tree branches are stuck at the top of the dam. If we ever we get a spring deluge, they will be swept downriver. Last week I spoke to a fisherman who caught some small brook trout. He complained about the algae and blamed it on the suburban mania for green lawns and fertilizer. The vernal pools in the forest at the end of Front St. are dry so the spring peepers (frogs) are subdued  But it has also been cool so the flowering trees have held onto their glory a bit longer. You take the good with the bad I guess. Still, it makes me anxious about the summer… how dry will it get?

The color in these images is a bit off as you can probably tell. The sketchbook is too big to scan so I take a snapshot under incandescent light early in the morning (hence the yellow and bluish illumination).

Friday, April 6, 2012


The South Natick Dam & The Charles River
South Natick, Massachusetts 3/27/2012
© 2012 Rob Dunlavey
colored pencil
A view upriver with early morning reflections
South Natick, Massachusetts 4/6/2012
© 2012 Rob Dunlavey
conté pencil
A woodland stream in Broadmoor Audubon Sanctuary
South Natick, Massachusetts 4/5/2012
© 2012 Rob Dunlavey
colored pencil

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Return

colored pencil
A pair of mallards paddle upstream below the dam. Later, I saw them on top of the dam looking for good things to eat and preening themselves. The locals slowly return to their old haunts.

I'm lonely for the ducks and the herons. But there's some nameless comfort in it all. A bracing reminder of childhood that never grows old. Like the feel of your toes sinking into the squishy sand as the sparkling ocean waves recede. A feeling of stability and still an off-kilter giddiness. For some reason, I'm reminded of that tonight when I think of the time passing and the animals returning.
Bonne nuit!
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