Monday, September 29, 2008

Inspiration from nature

Remember my fungi piece from last June? I found new subject matter yesterday! After going hiking on conservation land on the Carp Ridge yesterday morning, we returned home and spent the afternoon moving a wood pile. This was a wood pile that was left behind by the previous owners and my husband got busy splitting the wood. I started clearing up a brush pile that I was converting into kindling. And look what I found next to the brush pile. Some wonderful logs with gorgeous fungi. The subtle colours don't come through on the computer screen but they really are lovely. The logs are now in my studio awaiting their turn as still life material.

These two nests found me yesterday. Yes, they found me. If you have been to my studio, you might have noticed my small collection of nests. I started collecting nests many years ago and I soon found that I needed to stop. Where on earth do you store them once you have hauled them home? So, with regret, I have resisted the urge to nab the many, many nests I have seen since then. I walk in various forests and fields at least once a day and I have seen many that tempted me. But yesterday, these two nests found me so I had to bring them home. The one on the left was actually in my back yard and I almost stepped on it. I spied the second one last evening as I walked our meadow with my dog. There it was on the path. I assumed that my husband had seen it on a previous walk and had put it there for me. But no he didn't. This nest just found me. I guess it really needs a new home.This nest is definitely a field nest as it is made up of various grasses and it has no mud. It is surprising light considering its size. So move over turtle shell, wasp hive, chipmunk jaw bones and deer antlers, two new nests are moving in.

I do plan on working on a nest picture this winter...I shall keep you posted.

My outdoor adventures continued today. I took my dog to a local conservation area for a walk. While there are lots of places to walk around here, I wanted to go out in the car so I could see all the gorgeous fall foliage. What I didn't expect to see was a flock of turkey vultures. There were 22 of them alongside the road roosting in a few dead trees. They had been feasting on a dead raccoon. These pictures aren't too great but you get the idea.

I had never seen so many turkey vultures together so when I got home I did some research. Apparently they do roost in large numbers, even as high as several hundred birds. They have a wing span of 68-72" (wow) and they weigh around 3 pounds.

I did know about their defense tactics...they are masters of projectile vomiting. They spew foul smelling semi-digested meat at their predator. This can sting the eyes if the predator is close enough. I didn't know about how they cool themselves. They defecate on their own legs allowing the evaporation of the water in the feces and or urine to provide cooling.

While their diet is repulsive, they do play an important role in the ecosystem as they dispose of carrion which would otherwise be a breeding ground for disease.

Perhaps I need to do a turkey vulture painting some day...maybe complete with some gruesome carrion! :-)

And finally here is a picture of me and my dog returning from our outing. My husband gets a kick out of how our dog looks so big next to me in the car.

Okay, time to get grab a slice of that banana bread that just finished in the bread machine and time to get back to my studio. May something in nature inspire you today!


Jeanette said...

The nests are sweet, I can see how you can't resist picking them up. They are marvels of nature.

Those turkey vultures! Wow. We don't have them here, then again we don't have skunks or raccoons or porcupines either... Fascinating birds despite their habits.

The dog almost dwarfs you in the car, cute photo.

Anonymous said...

I love going out looking for fungi to draw,so many different shapes and colours...October is the time that they start to sprout, so as soon as it has stopped raining I shall be off for a walk soon,camera and skectch pad in hand.
Love the photo lol, your dog does kinda make you lool smaller, I had the same thing myself with my Saint Bernard, who used to sit on the back seat of my small car....he looked so funny, cos he just filled it up lol.

Teresa Mallen said...

Hi Jeanette and Vic,

I don't know what it is about a dog in a car but when I see one it always makes me smile. Maybe it is because they look around so keenly. Vic, you had a Saint Bernard and you had a small car. I hope you had a large house!