August 29, 2008
157: Memories Take Flight
I've been into birdwatching from the get-go almost, but my early zenith came during the ages of nine to 12 when I feverishly scoured the bushes and skies with binoculars and Audobon's Field Guide to North American Birds (Eastern Region). Naturally this passion took a backseat to high school – you know, girls and such – but it rose again in my 20s once the risk of appearing uncool stopped mattering. And today I am a fully fledged bird nerd.
But my memories of those early days persist. Every summer Saturday was spent with the family at Patricia Beach – hotspot for birders but nowadays also for naturists, an awkward mix of skin and binoculars – and some of my most prized bird firsts were here (ruddy turnstone, western grebe, American bittern). My mom took me to Oak Hammock Marsh for my tenth birthday to birdwatch; I now work there. Out during lunch hours I've spotted a white-faced ibis, a red knot and a cinnamon teal. Once – right from my desk, swear to Jebus – I watched a golden eagle snack on a dead rabbit.
This illustration is concocted from memories of my early birdwatching days, wanting so badly to see certain species that, to this day, have not made themselves available to my checklist. Chief among them, the blackburnian warbler is a model of elegance in pattern and colour (my favourite birds all share one trait: a well-thought sense of design). So this is more a tribute than anything – Illustration Friday's current theme of memories will do that to a guy.
Done in pen and watercolour-inspired Photoshop brushes. You can click here for a slightly larger view of the piece.