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October 12, 2013

Obsessed with Sea Gulls

I love watching the sea gulls during our beach walks, and take lots of photos to document their size, coloration, and movements during take-off and landing.  This sea gull was drawn on the first page of my summer beach sketchbook.  Wish I knew why some birds have that red spot on their beak.

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These are gulls photographed during our last visit to the beach for this year, and all were drawn and painted from photos that I took during takeoff and landing.  I love to watch them run on the sand for a few feet before lifting off - and then gliding in after one big circular path over the surf.

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Good bye sea gulls until next summer!

August 23, 2013

Beach Weekend Sketchbook Pages

There is very little time to sketch when surrounded by 8 adults and 8 children (11 mos to 10 years).  But I combined some activities and made enough paintings to remember a wonderful weekend.

The first morning I sat with my older grandchildren while they were working on summer homework projects and sketched their favorite shoes.  I sketched Henry's new shoes, but ran out of time to paint it.

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One afternoon I was watching my 11 month old grandson, and didn't want to put him down for a nap if he cried hysterically and woke his 20 month old cousin,  So I put him in his comfortable stroller and walked him around the neighborhood so he could fall asleep quietly.  I sketched his really cute, really small crocs and then picked one wild flower and two petal clusters from a hydrangea in order to see if I could reproduce the beautiful colors. 

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I brought sun print paper with me for the children to try. They all learned about selecting flat objects to put on their paper and each produced a nice little print.   Five year old Annabelle asked us to take her on our 2 mile early morning beach walk the next morning and we collected some clam shells and sea gull feathers.  In general, shells were really hard to find during our daily walks.  But I decided that I wanted to see a sun print from a small feather and here it is.

 

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I have a few more half-finished pages - and hopefully can finish them before the summer is over.

June 11, 2013

End of Beach Vacation

We are home from the beach after a wonderful vacation and I'm uploading a few remaining travel sketchbook pages.  Each year we invite wonderful friends who we met many years ago and the group takes early morning beachwalks, reads, swims, and plans dinners!

We walk approximately 2 miles in the morning and have specific beach houses that we use as mile markers.  This is one of those houses, and our very favorite one.  It is an original cottage that was built in 1889 - a fact we learned from a published book in the local bookstore.  It is called Over Look.  One day my friend Sara and I stopped to sketch it, while everyone else waited patiently for us a little way down the beach.  I will probably paint it, but for the moment I just enjoyed the fact that I finished the drawing. 

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This is a photo I took of Sara sketching the house. 

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Everyone returned to New York City with us and we celebrated our last evening together at a local restaurant.  I had my sketchbook with me and focused on the wine!

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I had a birthday celebration with two of our children, 6 grandchildren, and one of the couples who are still staying with us through tomorrow.  My 3 year old grandson Zach picked out a birthday cupcake for me - and one for him!

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June 7, 2013

Beach Fun and a Huge Beach Mystery Solved

All images are photographs, not scans, and I can't maintain the white background, even with Photoshop adjustments.   

There are large clam shells everywhere on the beach and I bring home several from every morning beach walk.  Several evenings ago, my guests and I set up an art camp on my grandchildren's craft table and raided their paints, markers, and glitter glue.  Here is my first painted shell.

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By bedtime I decorated 4 more.

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My friend Sara and I bring home a variety of "other things" from the beach to sketch/paint in our travel sketchooks.  Here is a pine cone from one of the sandy beach entrances and a sea gull feather.

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As I climbed out of the truck in the driveway yesterday, I looked into the grass right beneath my feet, and the only thing I saw was this four leaf clover.  I have NEVER found one before, and there it was!  I saved it on a sketchbook page by stitching a cellophane square over it and through the watercolor paper - then sealing the 4 edges with glue stick. 

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Huge Beach Mystery: Early this week we arrived for our early morning 2 mile walk and saw many unusual "objects" on the beach. They were very smooth 6-8 inch beige partial circles, each with an identical lip and curved shape which resembled a piece of a toilet plunger.  None of them were a complete circle.  Were they pieces of rubber, manufactured as gaskets?  If so, why were there so many at the high tide line - extending over several miles.

Here are a few photos.  Wet they were very flexible and felt like leather or rubber.  Dry, they were very fragile and crumbled easily.  In the first photo you can see the size relative to an adult hand.

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We picked up a few each day during our walk and asked random people if they could identify these strange things.  Surprisingly, most people hadn't seen them although they were everywhere.  Others, including those who lived here their entire life, had no idea what they were.  In each instance, the first question was "do you think they are organic or machine made?"  Each day we did some random computer searches and found nothing.  Our best guess was some part of ocean seaweed, but what? 

Yesterday I was looking at kelp images and saw a link to a website called MarineDetective.  What could I lose by emailing this Vancouver BC diver and marine expert.  So I did.  Within 30 minutes I received this reply.

"Laughing here! I get asked this so often. These are the egg cases (aka egg collars) of Lewis' moon snails ( Polinices lewisi)!  Moon snails are big predatory marine snails. They look so human made that I have had to correct people when they pick them up thinking they are garbage! By a remarkable method, the female moonsnail forms one layer of the collar by gluing together sand grains with mucus; the the fertilized eggs are laid on this layer and THEN she seals them in with another layer of sand and mucus!!!  The eggs are held within the collar for 1.5 months and, in the ones you found, may already have hatched out to be 1000s of planktonic larvae. I include a more detailed description below. 

May I use your image to add to the "marine ID requests" part of my FaceBook page?  It will allow me to direct others there!  

Best wishes!
Jackie
 
Jackie Hildering
Biologist / Marine Educator
Follow "The Marine Detective" at www.themarinedetective.ca 
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/the.marine.detective
 
We have two different species of moon snails here in the North Atlantic.  But this description of the egg laying process appears to be universal.  These fascinating structures are called sand collars.  Here is more detailed information from "The Marine Detective."
 
"When a female is ready to lay her eggs, and she lays several thousand at a time, she rises above the sand and encases her entire shell with the foot.  Cilia on the foot pick up individual grains of sand and spread them over her body until she is covered with a grain-thick layer. These sand grains are then cemented together with mucous. So she is now encased in a single layer of cemented sand grains.

Next the eggs are produced and, again using the cilia, are evenly distributed between her flesh and the sand layer.  Once she's done laying the eggs she creates another layer of sand, again cemented together with mucous, between her foot and the eggs. The end result is a paper-thin sand sculpture molded into the shape of her foot-covered shell and made up of two layers of sand with a thin layer of eggs in between them, completely surrounding the mother's body. Now she needs to escape. Using the foot action described above, she digs straight down beneath the sand and ducks underneath her creation, leaving this "sand collar" behind." 

June 4, 2013

Beach Week Continues

We're thoroughly our enjoying our annual beach vacation, and except for a rainy yesterday, walk the beach each morning. 

 I'm posting 3 sketchbook pages - the beach entrance to a HUGE beach house, some beach peas growing wild along one of the beach entrance walkways, and my friend Renee knitting while 6 of us watched Casablanca.  It rained yesterday and rewatching this classic movie on DVD was a perfect way to spend the afternoon.

These paintings were photographed, not scanned, and I can't figure out how to get rid of the blue color of the watercolor paper.  It is actually white. 

 

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