Coyotes and French Bulldogs

Today, shortly before I was going to sit down and write this post, I was on the phone. As I was talking, I glanced out of the window at the pond and I saw a Nat Geo Wild tableau unfolding right before my eyes. We have had bufflehead and Mallard ducks and Canadian geese on the pond all this week, I think hoping for spring just as much as we are. In addition I saw two great blue herons, and then turkeys flew down from some tree branch perches. Lots of activity to see on the shallow end of the pond.  Then, unexpectedly, I saw a coyote wade into the water and head toward one of the herons.  The heron leapt up into the air and flew over to the shoreline in a deeper area of the pond.  The coyote slipped out of the shallow water and raced along the shore to chase after the heron.  It flapped back to the shallow end and the coyote retraced his steps, wading back into the water. He stalked the herons again as the ducks and geese looked on in amusement.  He dashed about in the water, stirring up both of the herons.  One again rose up into the air.  And again the coyote chased it along the shoreline.  Then both were back in the shallow end.   Finally, the coyote tired of the game and just raced himself around in small circles through the grass at the waters edge before heading off into the woods.  I think everyone knew there was no real danger and that the coyote wasn’t really intent on hunting them.  I think he was just having a bit of spring fever fun.

Of course, since I don’t leave the telephoto lens on the camera, it was all over by the time I got ready.  No photos available.  Still, I have to laugh at the poor stately herons.  It seems as if they are the butt of wildlife jokes and amusement.  This reminded me of the deer stalker incident a few years ago, where the doe harassed another heron around the shallow end of the pond for almost half an hour.  Then I did have time to put on the telephoto and got a few pictures.  Here’s a link to that post.  If it doesn’t work, just go to the July 2011 posts and you’ll find it.

Travelling Trip

Travelling Trip

Now back to Trip, the travelling Frenchie.  I watercolored him over the course of two days.  I had to be careful with the fawn color and not overdo it, over powering the white.  Today pretty much all I did was add to the shadows.  I am pleased with the way it turned out.

And finally, whoo-hoo, tomorrow is opening day for MLB.  I know where I’ll be at 4:00 tomorrow afternoon. Rooting for a White Sox winner. Spring has finally, officially, started for me.

March, in like a lion….out like a ….lion

This is not a normal March for us. It has been way too cold – 20+ degrees below normal for the highs, lows in the teens and twenties, and 50 degrees lower than March 2012.  As I have been working this month, snuggled in my studio, the wind has been blowing and the snow flying.  In fact, this last snow storm on Sunday night set records in not far away Indianapolis.

This is spring?

This is spring?

We were fortunate to get a lot less snow than they did , but – this is spring?  I bet we had over 4″ by the time it ended.  I didn’t go out to measure.  I wasn’t that curious and gauged it from the railings.  It melted off of the roadways and sidewalks by afternoon and ended up being quite pretty.  When I went out, the roads were totally clear and a lovely, deep snow covered the trees and the grass.  It is almost all gone today.

We have been seeing a bit more wildlife this month.  The transient waterfowl are passing through almost every day.  In fact I saw a coyote checking out the ducks and geese from the far shore.  The birds actually approached nearer to the shore to honk warningly at him.  They got so close he seriously thought about jumping in but then thought the better of it. It was too far to photograph with my telephoto lens or I would have a picture.  He really didn’t have a prayer of getting one but it surely crossed his mind.

The boys

The boys

I have also seen a large flock of turkeys – mostly toms I think – strutting in the grassy area across the lake and over the lawn several times.  There seems to be about 20 of them and they are HUGE.  Some are definitely toms with large wattles hanging off of their chests and a few with smaller wattles.  Some don’t have a visible wattle but the head is red and they seem to have large tail and wing feathers.  Last years babies?  I don’t know enough about turkey behavior to tell know if there are mixed flocks this time of year, but if so, those are some very large hens.

I have worked on the architectural but need to let it sit for another day or so.  I sprayed it lightly to pop the colors, but it needs a bit of depth yet so I want to get new eyes for it.

Waiting for spring

Crane statue

Crane statue

It has been cold, cold, cold here the last few days. And more of the same plus the possibility of sticking snow on Tuesday. March – in like a lion……   I am so ready for spring this year. My daffodils are coming up – no surprise there – but nothing else is budding out yet. Last year with the very mild winter everything came out way too early and when a not so late frost hit, a lot of the new growth died, never to be fully replaced. Add that to the last three years of moderate to severe drought, and I am hoping for some normal spring and summer weather for a change.  Maybe the colder temperatures have killed off the tree scale, too. Aside from the damage to the trees, I really didn’t like walking under a shower of sticky insect poo to get down to the lake.  It was that bad.

Yesterday Tom and Jerry, the male turkeys. made their way cautiously across the back yard at a somewhat leisurely pace.  I haven’t seen much of them or the hens this winter.  Ditto for the bucks.  We have seen quite a few of the does and last year’s babies, but the bucks have been hiding out.  Don’t know why.

The Canada geese have been moving about lately, but what I enjoy seeing are the transient ducks.  We keep hoping some will stay for the summer, but no luck yet.  Maybe we will put up some duck boxes on the other side of the lake.  We have seen quite a few ring-necked ducks as well as the usual mallards this year.

I still feel like painting a bit so I have taken a small sculpture of herons I received as a gift many years ago and penciled it up.  I will look at it tomorrow and see if I still like it the way it is.  Sometimes the hardest thing for me is to start the inking. I get attached to the drawing and am “afraid” of ruining it.

Flying turkeys

Well I haven’t done too well this week, either in the studio or on the web. I have another  good excuse though. On Wednesday I was diagnosed with a UT stone. I am on the mend now and although it will take two weeks to recover, I am glad to be where I am now, versus the last month.

Since I have barely started  inking on my next piece, I thought I’d give another peek at Wild Crane Overlook’s wildlife. The turkeys have been in hiding for a while it seems, perhaps for hunting season. We have often seen two toms roaming the area and courting the females.  I like to call them Tom and Jerry. Those of you old enough may recognize a cartoon reference there. I saw one tom down by the pond about a week ago. He was looking around, back and forth, before he headed down to the water. When he got down to the water’s edge, he took off and flew clear to the other side. Suddenly, two other toms emerged from the forest edge and flew over the ice to follow him. I guess that was what he kept looking around at. So Tom and Jerry seem to have found another friend. I hope this spring that we can see them courting the hens again. Before we moved here, I had only seen a tom displaying to hens one time in 25 years. Now, we see it almost every spring. It’s pretty exciting. Perhaps this year I can get a photo too.

Turkey by the lake