Bliss and I were out marking trees a few weeks ago when we came upon several wood rats nests. They build these large stick pile akin to a beaver lodge on land. They are very industrious creatures. They are also an important prey species for forest predators.
Bliss was very impressed with this massive collection of sticks. So impressed that she claimed it for herself. Sadly for her it wasn’t going to fit in my vest and she could only carry one stick at a time.
This clever rat built its nest in the trees. No sticks for Bliss from this one.
Bliss found a deer skull under the nest. “No Bliss it’s not a rat skull and no you can’t eat it!”
I was in the Trinities this week and there was thick smoke everywhere. It’s burning season in Northern California. We had quite a lot of rain in late November. I assumed that some agency was doing a large burn project. However, I couldn’t see where the smoke was coming from. It appeared to be drift smoke.
During my drive down from the mountains I heard a news report. They reported that smoke from the Thomas Fire was drifting up the coast. I checked Google Earth that evening and the smoke had drifted nearly 500 miles from the Thomas Fire in Southern California to north of Redding. The residue of so many homes and so much wildland was adrift in this smoke.
Here is another installment of the 60 Second Forester by Frank Barron.Today, he’s talking about Fire History in California and what he says is true for most of our western forests. Managing the fire ecology of these forests is tricky business especially now when our forests are so out of balance ecologically. Overgrown forest resulting from over 100 years of all or nothing wildfire suppression have set the stage for the massive bark beetle infestations and enormous conflagrations. Only through the use of forest management can we bring back fire resiliency to our forests.
I’ve been practicing pen and ink portraits lately. I find them uniquely challenging. Some I’ll post and some I won’t, but this one of Marilyn Monroe I decide to post. I’m fairly happy with it, but I didn’t nail it. I didn’t quite capture her essence the way I wanted. I liked the photo reference for the high contrast, which is conducive to pen and ink. Subtle shading is trickier than with pencil or paint. I have a tendency to overwork the piece. It’s been a pretty steep learning curve. Comments and critiques are appreciated.
I realize this isn’t as wildlifey or woodsy as what I normally do, but it’s good to mix things up. Besides, there’s people in the woods too. Although, I’ve never run into Marilyn in the woods, but that would make a heck of a blog post!
This was drawn from a pair of geese on the mill pond. Canada geese are great subjects for pen and ink. They’re already black and white.
This gaggle spotted Sailor and Bliss over on shore. They decided to come over and cause trouble for my goldens, who were minding their own business. Typical rabble rousing degenerate geese!
Sailor couldn’t take it anymore and swam out to say hello. What’s a boy to do.
What we have here is a failure to communicate.
This skull intrigued me with its bleached bone and hard shadows. I wondered what happened to cause it to be here. It was wild and dirty, and crying out to be drawn. So draw it I did!
On our way into camp we often stop in a particular landing to give everyone a break from the ride. A D6 Cat tractor was parked there for several months. A local logger had been using it for road repair and erosion control work. During one stop at the landing we found a bear skull. It wasn’t a large skull, probably from a young bear or a sow.
I couldn’t resist placing the skull in the tractor for the loggers to find. It sat there for weeks undisturbed. Until one day, while we were coming through, it had disappeared. Somebody or something must have taken a fancy to it and packed it off. When I first saw the skull I wondered what it’s story was, but it seems that it’s story may not be done. I wonder where it is now.
It’s situated next to the Upper Sacramento River north of Northern California (Jefferson).