Currently creating art on beautiful Vancouver Island, British Columbia.

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Bird Watching, March 2024


Yesterday I spent the day at the French Creek estuary counting birds on my eBird app. In 2 1/2 hours we counted 18 different species of birds. In or near the water there were scores of Mallards, a few Common Mergansers, some Buffleheads, a Kingfisher and more Seagulls than we could count. Fortunately the estuary’s riparian zone is protected as a nature preserve

In the adjacent upland area we counted more Juncos and Spotted Towees than I’ve ever seen in one place, a couple of Hummingbirds, some Quail, many Sparrows, and a few birds that are rare at this time of year such as a Townsend’s Warbler. There were majestic Great Blue Herons nesting in the trees and flying overhead to fish. On a cold day in March the trees and bushes were simply alive with birds and it was entrancing.

The joy of seeing these exquisite creatures up close in my binoculars is my reason for bird watching. These elegantly feathered creatures, so entirely at one with their surroundings, are a strong contrast to us humans in our environment. We constantly ward off our surroundings with walls, heating/air conditioning, machines, clothing and devices. But birds belong to a different, more attuned, more perfect way of life than us domesticated human beings. Is this innately what it is to be human or were we at one time more like birds and other wild beings? Their beauty, super-awareness and finely-focused attention on the present moment, every moment, is like a lesson in how to be in the world.

products/prints/colour prints/The Golden Bird
The Golden Bird, 2023, printing inks on wood, 23” w x 15” h

In Margaret Atwood’s forward to a book on birds by her late husband Graeme Gibson, (The Bedside Book of Birds: An Avian Miscellany, Gibson, Graeme, Published by Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, 2005) she describes what bird watching meant to him.”…every new Bird was a revelation to him. He wasn’t much interested in making lists of the birds he had seen, though he did make such lists as an aid to memory. Instead it was the experience of the particular, singular bird that enthralled him: this one, just here, just now. A red tailed hawk! Look at that! Nothing could be more magnificent!”

But yesterday it was difficult to be enthralled in the present moment knowing that this marvellous bird habitat in French Creek will be bulldozed for more human habitat. Sadly this is not a protected area but private land slated for development of 14 patio homes (a local name for a complex of smaller attached bungalows.) This is the dilemma of bird-watching: the more you watch them the more you treasure birds, and the more pain you feel as their habitat is destroyed, lot by lot, forest by forest, ecosystem by ecosystem.

My earlier blogs have explored birds in both sculptures and paintings and a current series of prints also includes bird images. And there are more planned for the future.

menu/products/ paintings/painting 2019-2021/Then Again
Then Again, 2019, Marion-Lea Jamieson, oil on canvas, 42″ h x 35″ w

These works are like a little prayer that these incredible beings may persevere, may survive the Anthropocene era and continue as they have done for millennia and for eons to come.

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