Wednesday, August 29, 2012


Red wing black birds are our neighbors.  They're one of the first
to arrive when the weather warms up.  They stake out their nesting
areas near water.  There the males perch and flare out their
brilliant red epaulets and announce, "It's SPRING!" 

Yellow headed black birds hang out in marshy areas. 
Their voice sounds like the squeak of a very large, rusty hinge.

They have fancy white shoulder patchs to go with their bright yellow heads.

Other common black birds are the brewers black birds that gather in big flocks
as they prepare for their flight south, and the garrulous starlings with their
dark rainbow heads.  They're the bad boys that hang out in gangs and
take over and defend their turf with rude behavior.

I don't mind any of these birds.  They do a find job keeping down the insects,
and, even though they may not have beautiful voices,
they sing with plenty of gusto.  
It's the grackles that are on my list.  They are bigger than the common
black bird, have a long wide tail, and the males' heads are glossy dark blue.

They help themselves to everything in my bird feeder.

Everything.  They scarf down the seeds and nuts by the gobs.

They spill a lot into the hedge below but have no problem cleaning up the mess
all the while talking to each other with their rusty gate sound and
loud, "chuck" calls.

Lately they've been moving across our lawn like herds of black cows.
They're fattening up for their trip south.  I think it's great that they eat
the grubs, grasshoppers and cinch bugs.  No, what ticks me off is how they
gather like a flock of chickens and go through the bark mulch around my
rose bushes.

They dig through looking for food, scattering the bark chunks all over the sidewalk
and lawn.  I go out and rake everything back where it belongs only to find the same
mess an hour or two later.  Up in the trees I see grackles
looking up at the sky and whistling quietly.

Monday, August 27, 2012


View from Pinnacle Road, Wellington Park, Tasmania
8x10 inches transparent watercolor

Here's another piece I did for the Virtual Paintout in Tasmania.
I discovered a place called Wellington Park above the town of Hobart.
   Using Google Streetview I virtually "drove" up the winding road 
to a spot where there was a panorama view of the valley, 
the town and Cornelian Bay.  

Google Street View reference

The season appears to be autumn. The golds in the foliage contrasted 
nicely with the lavenders of the distant hills and the purples
and blues of the trees and shrubbery in the foreground.

View from Pinnacle Road, Wellington Park, Tasmania version 2
9x13 inch --playing with the colors

I realize I prettied up the trees a lot by adding too many branches. 
 They are probably eucalyptus, or gum trees which have most
of their foliage on top.

I remember riding a bike through a grove of huge eucalyptus
trees in Hawaii early in the morning.  The air was full of that spicy,
 menthol aroma often used in air freshener and medicine.

The first painting should appear along with many other
works by talented Virtual Paintout artists in the next few days.