Join the Great Backyard Bird Count this weekend!

Join the Audubon Society Great Backyard Bird Count this weekend, Feb. 13-16, 2015!

Your backyard bird feeder is an easy spot for counting the birds in your neighborhood. Photo courtesy of the Wrenaissance Man.

This weekend, February 13–16, is the American Audubon Society’s Great Backyard Bird Count, and you are invited to join in the fun! You don’t need to be a professional ornithologist or even a geeky, hard-core birder to participate. Simply spend 15 minutes this weekend counting and identifying the birds in your backyard, local park, or other favorite outdoor spot and upload the results to the project website.

Last year, 19,363 lists were submitted, with more than 2 million birds of 2,754 species counted during the big weekend. The GBBC website provides instructions on how to make a count list, a dynamic map of submissions made during the weekend, more maps showing the birds seen by region and species, and a very helpful “tricky ID” page to help tell the difference between species that look almost the same (like red finches).

You don’t even have to be a big outdoorsman to participate! If you have a bird feeder set up outside your window, simply take 15 minutes at feeding time to count the birds showing up to eat. This is an easy and accessible way to take part if the weather isn’t cooperating, or if you’re a shut-in.

This weekend is a great opportunity to introduce your children or grandchildren to the nature that surrounds us all every day. I hope you’ll join me!

Groovy Links of the Month: Ideas for field sketching kits

A pencil and a sketchbook are the bare minimum supplies for a travelling artist!

Truly, this is all you need to enjoy sketching nature outdoors!

This year, for some reason, I have felt compelled to switch up my ordinary travel sketching kit. In February, I took pastels to the Grand Canyon. In August, I took a variety of materials to the Grand Canyon and Zion, but ended up using my tried and tested watercolor and ink pen method the most. For the Bosque del Apache birdwatching trip, I used just my favorite mechanical pencil and a cold-press, mixed-media paper sketchbook that was part of the equipment list from a workshop at the ASBA conference.

I love to see the field-sketching kits used by other outdoor and nature artists. Every artist who works outdoors on a regular basis develops a preference for some materials and gear over others. Below are some ingenious ideas for ways to make drawing and painting on location more comfortable and practical.

Hope you enjoy taking a peek at these ingenious set-ups, and maybe get some ideas for your next outdoor painting foray. If you have an interesting tip or idea for traveling with a sketchbook, please share it in the comments!

Some thoughts on completing the PiBoIdMo challenge

Nevis the black Scottish terrier dog has a dignified and thoughtful appearance

Sexy beast. Nevis would love to pen rabbit murder mysteries. Sadly, a lack of opposable thumbs has stymied this talented storyteller.

This morning I jotted some notes down for my final journal entry in the Picture Book Idea Month challenge. This is the first time I’ve ever completed an internet challenge event. I’m not really one for these public group goal-meeting activities: In fact, I usually avoid them. What made this one more accessible for me was the fact that we didn’t have to publish or upload our work online, thus sidestepping the whole exhibitionistic aspect of so many of these events.

Some things I noticed as I wrote my daily entries:

  • Quite a few entries were based on New Mexico life and culture. This is the first time in the 2 years I’ve lived here that local flavor has influenced my creativity. I guess it means I’ve finally settled in! 🙂
  • A few entries came out of some deep childhood memories, not always pleasant. After I wrote them down, I said, “Whoa, that’s kind of scary. Let me sit with that a while.” Don’t know if or when they’ll get more exploration.
  • At least 2 entries were snippets of conversation from the day before.
  • Characters predominated over plots.
  • Often, I’d jot down a brief idea, opening the door to other, more detailed ideas.
  • Other times, I’d write a quick idea on one day, only to have more details for it the next.

Tomorrow, I’ll go to Tara Lazar’s blog and sign off in confirmation of completing the project.   Thanks to Tara Lazar for her hard work in organizing and hosting this large event and all of the guest bloggers who provided inspirational essays about their experiences as writers and illustrators over the course of the month.

Did you participate in this challenge? What did you notice about your ideas or the writing process?

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