Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Close Encounter With a Big Bird

This morning I was walking around the lake in Delaware Park and I saw the coolest looking bird!

It was standing on the bank looking into the water. The bird was snowy white and at first I thought it was a swan. It had this long neck. But the neck was too thin to be a swan's. When the bird turned at certain angle the neck almost disappeared.

Your instinct is to take a picture and I tried that. But I am a zero with a camera. I do not even how to zoom in, rendering most of my efforts to photograph birds useless.

I got too close to the bird in my efforts to get a picture of him, and he took off. That was when I knew he was not a swan! He had these amazing wings. He flew down a little distance and landed on the cement steps by the lake next to the Marcie Casino. And he took up his post again, gazing into the water.

He must be watching for fish, I realized. From time to time he walked this way and that. He had long legs and big claws for feet and he walked with dignity but kind of comically, bending his knees, taking mincing steps. I could not take my eyes off him. It was weird because everyone else who was passing was lost in headphones and smartphones and here was this big bird and nobody but me noticed it.

That was when I thought: I can draw him! That was a better way to get down what he looked like. I had this tiny sketchbook, only about 4 x 6, and one pen. But you know what, in a pinch, you are set.

So I sat down and turned out a number of quick sketches. I felt like Modigliani, drawing this bird. Modigliani loved drawing girls with long necks. This bird had the longest and thinnest neck I had ever seen. What an example of God's imagination.

After a few minutes the bird took off and flew across the lake. I went and stood on the bridge where I had a good view of him and I sketched him a few more times.

While I was there a woman showed up with a camera. Talking to strangers in the best Buffalo tradition, I said, "There's this cool bird down there."

It ended up she was well aware, and that was why she was there with her camera.  She was a bird nerd!

That is another thing I love about Buffalo. When you have a question, the right person usually shows up ready to give you an answer.

She told me the bird was a Great White Heron!

"When it flies, it looks like a pteradactyl," she said. I just looked up the spelling and I think that is it. "It is almost like a dinosaur."

I liked just watching the heron standing there holding its head high. That was my favorite pose. That long neck! 

The sketch at the top of the page, that is one of this morning's heron sketches that I turned into a watercolor. I also was happy with the little sketch on the right. It was fun when I got home to look at all these drawings and think: This is what I saw.

I actually did a dozen or so quick drawings of this heron. You never know when you will see one of these birds again!

All of a sudden I realize I have drawn a few birds and other creatures. I never really thought of it being my line of work, however I have drawn several, when they presented themselves. I did a painting of two Canada geese that I am proud of. Perhaps I should post it.

But not now!

The Great White Heron should not have to share the spotlight!

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