Saturday, February 15, 2014

Birds of Prey

I am still plugging away with the colored pencil online course from Val Webb.  This week I tackled lesson 2, which was to draw a Ferruginous Hawk. 

But the first part of the lesson, covered how to draw the eyes of birds, specifically birds of prey.  Here are the sketches completed practicing assorted eyes.  We were supposed to leave the rest of the bird sketchy...

This was challenging, fun.... and eventually I was itching to get on to the next lessons, since I am behind... so I left his lower neck feathers roughly sketched in.  I am happy with the results!

Information on the class can be found here... Val Webb's Colored Pencil course on birds.

With computer monitor resource photo.
My photo is 'redder' than the actual drawing.. the browns are not as 'rusty'. 

Friday, February 14, 2014

Fleeting Flowers, part two!

Thursday morning I set out after 9 am and had specific flowers I hoped to find.  I wanted a better photo of our desert lupine, it's dainty and smaller than other species... but, I did not find a single one (in bloom) down on the 'flats'.  I did find lots of other species though, and a few more that are new to me.  I was out there for a couple hours and enjoyed the beautiful spring weather, all the birds are in nesting mode and these beautifully decked flowers... which will be gone so quickly.  Other species, many shrubs, trees and the cacti are still yet to bloom in the coming weeks.  These tiny and early specimens are peaking now, many will be dried up in the next week or two.

As with the last post, here is a shot of the general terrain in which these photos were taken.  Last time I was up on the top of the hill, this time in the dry washes and valleys.   

South Mountain Preserve


Coulter's Lupine, no flower.  :(

Desert Trumpet
Eriogonum inflatum

unopened buds are supposed to bear yellow flowers.

close up of an orange fiddle-neck.

Sand Peppergrass
(Lepidium lasiocarpum) a member of the mustard family.
 This is another very common desert wildflower in Arizona. But it is sometimes so small that casual observers usually see it as "grass" not noticing the fascinating seed pods or minute flowers.  (I'm not positive I'm correct on this one!)


Bigelow's Four O'Clock  (Mirabilis bielovii) or
Desert Wishbone Bush  (Mirabilis laevis var. villosa)

same as above, bee shows size of flowers.

This resembles fiddle-neck, but the blossoms are even smaller and are white.  ?

White Easterbonnets
(Antheropeas lanosum &/or Eriophyllum lanosum)
They are itty  bitty...

Would take quite a lot of these to cover a bonnet!  ;)

Indian Wheat-grass (I think)

These lacey, fine, every which way, stems are fun!

4 different flowers all sharing a bit of sand.

I think God is the original floral arranger.  Phacelia and cholla skeleton.

The leaves on an Ocotillo are turning, soon the branch will be bear, but the flower buds are forming on the tips!

another unknown and a close up of it's teeny blossoms...

Coulter's Globe Mallow (Sphaeralcea coulteri)  I am more familiar with the small shrub mallows, this was another new plant for me.
This was a delightful discovery.  This shrub was about 3 ft across and 2 ft high, I have not seen it before.
I think it is Fagonia (Fagonia laevis)

It's blooms, so delicate and what a glorious color!

 These fleeting beauties echo the truths of scripture...

A voice says, “Cry!”
    And I said, “What shall I cry?”
All flesh is grass,
    and all its beauty is like the flower of the field.
The grass withers, the flower fades
    when the breath of the Lord blows on it;
    surely the people are grass.
The grass withers, the flower fades,
    but the word of our God will stand forever.
(Isaiah 40:6-8)

"And why are you anxious...? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin,  yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?  Therefore do not be anxious saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ ...your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.  But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you."
 (Portions of Matthew 6:28-33) 

Now, here are some of the critters I came across, too...

This is a bad shot (actually taken last week/different camera!), but I was excited to discover I'd spotted an American Kestral, the smallest falcon.

A lizard... (not familiar with all their species!)

A closeup of Mr. unknown!

Black chinned hummingbird.  ;)

House Finch
Black Chinned Hummingbird (male)

He was a bit suspicious of me. 
Getting in his morning stretches and showing off his backside!

A pair of Verdin were gathering nesting material...


A Flycatcher (Ash-throated or Dusky-capped ?)  or a Say's Phoebe. 

Gila Woodpecker (female)

Curved-bill thrasher

And to close this long post... I'll give the Creator of all these beauties the final word...

" Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?  And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?"
(Matthew 6: 26-27)

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Sonoran Wildflowers

It's spring in the desert, and it came a little early this year.  I noticed wildflowers blooming in late January!  I hoped we'd get another rainfall to extend the season, but now a few weeks later, we have not... so the wildflower season locally will be very short!  I am trying to hike South Mountain multiple times per week to capture the fleeting show.  This week temperatures will get into the high 80's... these tiny fragile blooms will be gone soon.  There are more blooms to come, particularly the cactus, but here are those that are peaking now, many so tiny they go un-noticed by those who don't take the time to look closely.  I am including the names of all the ones I can identify, am happy to have discovered some flowers this year, which I've never seen before.

My next post will be of flowers found in the flats, today (the 13th).  And then, hopefully a post getting back to the colored pencil birds class.  :)

These first photos (click on a photo to enlarge) were all taken on the11th, most from on the 'hillside' area of the preserve, where the terrain looks like this...

The desert 'highland'.  Estrella mountains in the distance.

Fiddle neck

Creosote (Most just beginning to open)

The tiny bits of red caught my eye, and I learned this is...

Devil's Spineflower (Chorizanthe rigida)

Coulter's Lupine (few to be found this year)

Phacelia, also known as...

Scorpion weed.  The bee helps to show size.

Emory Rock Daisy (Perityle emoryi)

California Suncup (Camissonia californica)

This one fascinated me...

Another newly learned one for me; Desert Indianwheat (Plantago ovata)

It is also a small specimen!

Fiddle neck framing notch leafed phacelia (scorpionweed)