Monday, March 30, 2009

Catching up with the eagles at Lincoln Park

I've finally caught up with the eagles at Lincoln Park. A few posts back I complained about losing track of the eagles once I climbed to the top of the bluff, but since then I've had several sightings of the eagles amongst the trees. In this instance, the eagle spied me as well.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Spring Blossom

“Spring Blossom” by Lawrence Bergquist

Today I’m celebrating Spring with this lovely watercolor painting by my friend Lawrence. Lawrence grew up in the Pacific Northwest and studied graphic design and illustration at Western Washington University. His love of art started as a child reading comic books. “I really wanted to be a comic book artist. I even sent samples in to DC comics several times when I was teenager, I still have the rejection letters. I guess I am still little bit of a comic book geek but I don't collect like I did when I was young.”

Jen: Tell me about your inspiration for your latest work “Spring Blossom.”

Lawrence: Over the last 4 or 5 years I have gotten back into doing water colors. When I was down in Santa Fe New Mexico I saw the work of this watercolor artist that was just incredible, I wish I could remember his name. His paintings were amazing, nothing like any watercolor I have ever seen. There was a shine and a layering effect that created incredible depth. I've been trying to figure out how he did it, and have been playing around with adding extra Gum Arabic to the color mix. Gum Arabic is the liquid that is used to put the dyes/powders into solution to create the water colors in tubes, so it's not like I am creating a mixed media painting. The Blossom painting is my first real attempt at creating the depth I witnessed in those paintings in Santa Fe. The image itself is from a photo I took almost a year ago near where I live. I did a few other rough versions of it but I didn't like them because of the background, that's why I reduced it and let blooms and leaves kind of explode out.

For more samples of Lawrence’s work, check out

Thursday, March 19, 2009

"Irish Birds" Book Review

I was looking for a basic, beginners birding book of Ireland to replace my copy of “Birds in Colour” by Bruce Campbell and illustrated by Karl Aage Tinggaard. My book has become too worn-torn and fragile to transport. I also wanted to find something comparable to the gorgeous illustrations and perhaps a little more contemporary than my 1974 edition.

I came across the title “Irish Birds” by David Cabot on the internet but the only problem was I couldn’t find any reviews or sites that showed sample pages from the book. Instead of blindly ordering the book, I decided to have my local Barnes and Noble chapter order it and I would look at it upon arrival. There was no obligation to buy the book if I didn’t like it. I suppose I could have looked at it and ordered the book elsewhere online for the best price, but there is something to be said about instant gratification and beside I had a gift card burning a hole in my pocket. (Check out this
link for printable B&N coupons)

Needless to say, I bought the book and I love it. The book describes 160 most common birds and where they may be found and the illustrations are lovely. It is an introduction to birds of Ireland for the casual bird-watcher. I can’t wait to use it on my next trip to Ireland.

The following photos are from my trips to Ireland.

Starlings flocking outside of the Falls Hotel, Ennistymon.
It was like watching a fireworks display every day- in the mornings and right before twilight.

Wexford Wildlife Reserve, otherwise known as the "Slobs" (mudflats). Note the land is below sea level. This photo was taken from the tower, there are also hides and a visitor center. Admission was free!

We were at the reserve in December (2007) so we saw mostly wintering geese. Although I did see lapwing for the first time! Soo cute.

Tintern Abbey is one of my most favorite places to visit.
We saw Little Egrets in the marshland behind the abbey.

Take time to walk the trails in the woods around the abbey. We flushed a big bird when we walked through, but I didn't get a good look at it to have any description other than it was a big bird.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Lucky day for eagle sightings

This Friday the 13th turned out to be a lucky day for me. I met up with some friends and spent the day at the Arboretum. We had planned to go outside if the weather was nice and take some photos and it turned out to be another gorgeous day.

I have always wanted to try out the Canon 100-400mm telephoto lens and today was my chance. A friend was kind enough to entrust me with his lens. OMG! My first realization- I need to work out if I ever want to own one of these lenses. I may be 98lbs, but I’m scrappy! I have spent years lugging around an slr with a zoom lens but this was a whole different animal and today I wasn’t going to use a tripod.

As the afternoon progressed, we were fortunate to see several bald eagles at Duck Bay near the visitor center. I did the best I could with the lens and managed not to tip over backward trying to capture the eagles soaring overhead. And all had a good laugh at me and the monstrosity of a camera + lens. I must say I fared pretty well considering I had the image-stabilizer turned off the entire time quite by accident! It should be interesting to see the results when the image-stabilizer is turned on. Sharp- I bet.

The most memorable part of the afternoon was when we were walking back through Azalea Lane with the glorious sun shining down upon us and when we looked up at the clear, blue sky we saw a kettle of eagles (six to be exact). They were too high up in the thermals to even attempt to photograph and beside my back, hands and fingers couldn't take any more. At least there were other witnesses.

Just imagine how sharp these could have been if the image-stabilizer was turned on! Oh well, it was fun and a good learning experience.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Spectacular Spectacles

As I’ve been getting older, my eyes have become drier with age. I have found it helpful if I don’t wear contacts daily so instead I rely on my glasses. The only trouble is- glasses are expensive especially when you have a prescription that changes every year. In the past I have spent $300-500 on a pair of spectacles. I must admit I like fashionable glasses but not necessarily the name brands like Prada, DKNY, Dior or Adrienne Vittadini…for some reason I tend toward more geeky-chic or frames that usually turn out to be more expensive than the others on display like Prodesign, Matsuda or Beausoleil (which were incredible handmade frames made in France) to name a few.

So when my friend told me she got her cute glasses at Paris-Miki at Uwajimaya Village and the small cost she paid, I was skeptical to say the least.”They have sales all of the time and have unbelievable prices,” she retorted. After my latest eye exam and with my new prescription in hand, I decided to stop by Paris-Miki just to look at the frames since the place I’ve gone to for the last 5 of my frames didn’t have anything I liked. Yep, they were having a sale- complete glasses (frames and lens) from around $50-75 and up depending on the frames and lens.

I ended up choosing a pair of frames on my own (normally I need the confirmation of a friend or my hubby) and left my prescription. About an hour later I received a phone call telling me my glasses were ready and I could pick them up (they had the Seiko lens in stock and onsite so they were able to assemble them).

Overall, I paid more than my friend did because my prescription is so terrible and needed to pay more for the thinner lens, but as a person who buys glasses frequently, I’m quite happy with my purchase and the service I received. I don’t know the brand or where the frames were made but they are cute, comfortable and sturdy. I may not even bother with my insurance for my glasses and use it on contacts instead.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Nesting Herons

I just went to check out the herons nesting at Thornton Creek, literally at 95th NE and Sandpoint Way. What a beautiful sight. I have never had a chance to see herons nesting before even though there are quite a few known sites around Seattle neighborhoods. I guess being laid-off has it's perks- I get to take advantage of a gorgeous day. While I was there I also saw a hawk flying around the nests but the crows chased it away.

Afterwards I swung by Kiwanis Ravine in Magnolia to see if the other known heron nesting spot was active. There was nothing going on there. So I'll leave you with these herons from Sandpoint Way.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Bird (nerd) sighting

I'm so thrilled my bird nerd illustration is in the March edition of the Seattle Audubon's newsletter, Earthcare Northwest. Since I've been laid off, I've had to seriously consider what non-profits and organizations I would continue to monetarily support. This one made the list because it brings me so much joy. I'm sad that I'm not able to continue support others that I've contributed for many years (Habitat for Humanity, Oxfam, Amnesty International, Nature Conservancy, Defenders of Wildlife to name a few), but times are tough. Please support these great organizations if you can!

It's ironic that the non-profit organization I worked for and laid me off, continues to solicit me for donations. It's kind of funny, but not really.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Ebb and flow...

I saw this little wagtail in a parking lot out in Wicklow,
but for some reason wanted to see it playing in the surf.