|Kurt Plinke, Artist and Naturalist|
Between the Waters
life, Art and The Nature of things on the eastern shore
The Ospreys are back. Let's paint them. (News about my Summer painting plans, too.)
This entry is about several things, including:
But first, a bit about Ospreys:
I recently wrote an entry about one of my favorite birds of prey, the Red-Shouldered Hawk. I like this bird for lots of reasons, including their call, the way they have they courtship flights over the house in the springtime, and their beautiful coloration. Red-Shouldered Hawks are amazing birds.
They really are amazing, as well as interesting and another of my favorite birds. However, they appeal to me in different ways than the Red-Shouldered.
Ospreys do not have majestic, screaming calls. They sort-of twitter and tweet. They do it loudly, but still...
Ospreys, like Red-Shoulders, do have an amazing mating flight, during which they soar and dive repeatedly while calling. When the male Osprey dives, it is something to see.
Ospreys are not brightly colored birds. Mainly dark brown and white, they do not have the gorgeous colors of a Red-Shoulder or a Red-Tailed Hawk. Even so, they sport a sort of dapper elegance in their clean colors.
Ospreys, more than anything, are amazing hunters. Feeding almost entirely on fish, Ospreys hunt from the wing. While Red-Shoulders tend to sit passively while hunting, Ospreys soar overhead, scanning the water for for fish near the surface. If they see a fish, they often will hover in one spot over the fish, a neat trick for a bird as big as an Osprey. Suddenly, they plummet towards the water, feet and talons first as they hit the water, sometimes completely submerging as they grab for their prey. Once they have secured the fish in their long, curved talons, the Osprey swims with it's wings to burst from the water, flying to a nearby perch or to their bulky nest in a tree to dispatch and dismantle the hapless fish.
Another thing that I really like about Ospreys is a bit more personal, and played out again this year as I was fishing in the upper reaches of the Choptank River. A shallow, bubbling wide creek at this point, the Choptank is full of delicious white perch in mid-to-late March. I like to fish for them early in the morning, before most other fishermen have arrived.
There is always a rising fog coming from the water, and near horizontal shafts of golden morning light cut between the trees lining the banks. I am alone there as I fish... almost alone, that is. Always on those mornings, several Ospreys join me, cruising at eye-level above the water, sometimes only yards from me as their long wings push them along. Then, almost without warning, they will seem to stall in mid-air before dropping with a spray of water into the river. Invariably, they rise again, clutching a fat perch in their talons. Usually they fly up into a tree above my head, peering down at me as they eat the freshly caught fish.
This is what I like most about Ospreys. the memory of how each Spring we meet down at the river, each for the same reason. It almost feels like a planned meeting, and one of my favorite spring events.
This month, on April 16th, we will feature Painting an Osprey portrait in watercolor at the studio near Greensboro. We won't need a broad range of paint colors in order to finish this classic portrait study. We will learn a lot about how to layer texture, how to develop clean, distinct patterns, and how to create an "attitude" in a portrait. It should be a great workshop, easy for beginners but challenging for more advanced painters. I hope you can be there.
Easton In July!
And now for some exciting news, at least for me. I've been juried into the Easton Plein Air Festival, set to take place starting on the 10th of July. From then until the 17th, you'll find me in various locations along with some of the best plein air artists in the country, painting views of the Eastern Shore.
Also, don't forget to go see all of my new paintings at the Oxford Fine Arts Festival in Oxford, Maryland on May 21st and 22nd. There will be lots of great art there, as well as the festival's famous Strawberry Short Cake.
Kurt Plinke: About Life, Art and the Nature of Things on the Eastern Shore
I write about things I've noticed, places I've been, plans I've made and paintings I've finished or am thinking about.
See recent naturalist observations I have posted on iNaturalist: