Earth Day with the Motmot

Blue crowned motmot in Gamboa, Panama. Currently my favorite bird. Scope drawn, Stillman & Birn Epsilon Series sketchbook, with a nice sharp mechanical pencil.

Blue crowned motmot in Gamboa, Panama. Currently my favorite bird. Sorry for the bad image quality- there’s no scanner here. This was scope-drawn using the blind-contour technique, which never fails to surprise me when it works. Stillman & Birn Epsilon sketchbook, 8 1/2″ x 11″.

Greetings from Gamboa, Panama. Ant Man and I rented a house for six weeks on a hill above the Panama Canal, with a view of cecropia and palms and fruiting miconia trees attracting every known tropical and neotropical bird that’s ever thought about eating fruit.

Speaking of neotropicals, lots of migrants still here. If you’re up north looking for Eastern kingbirds, a LOT of them are still here gorging on miconia berries.

Gamboa is a sleepy tropical town originally constructed for Panama Canal builders and their families, who have been more or less replaced over time by scientists and their families. Ant Man and I are here trying to get some writing done (scientific papers for him, a book for me) and tune out the toucans, if possible. Not always possible (see below).

Keel-billed toucans preen and call and generally make themselves into interesting shapes. Pencil in Stillman & Birn Epsilon sketchbook. 8 1/2" x 11"

Keel-billed toucans preen and call and work themselves into interesting shapes. Again, apologies for the image quality. Pencil in Stillman & Birn Epsilon sketchbook. 8 1/2″ x 11″

The book is taking slow shape. For want of a better elevator pitch, it’s a bowl of bird-sketch salad tossed with natural history dressing.

Where we're staying, a typical Canal Zone bungalow on stilts. Catches the breezes from all directions. Good tropical construction technique. Watercolor over pencil, Stillman & Birn Epsilon book.

We’re staying here in a typical Canal Zone bungalow on stilts. It catches breezes from all directions- which is a sensible technique for tropical construction. Global-warming-era architects, please take note. Watercolor over pencil, Stillman & Birn Epsilon sketchbook.

It’s been (mostly) fun going through old journals and field notes. Much of it won’t make it into the text, but I hate to waste a good field note, so it could wind up here:

Watched spider monkeys go to bed in a huge tree awash with purple flowers. The youngsters hang by their tails and smack each other until their mom comes over and yells at them to go to sleep. Barro Colorado Island 2005

We poled through an opening in the mangroves to search for pygmy kingfishers where the water was dark and quiet.  A cormorant came flapping wildly upstream, veering to avoid branches and striking them with its wing-tips. Celestun, Yucatan, 1988

A toddler in a house down the street just screamed, and a white-breasted wood wren burst into song. Gamboa, Panama, 2016

Happy Friday, and Happy Earth Day.

Geoffroy's Tamarins, Gamboa. Cute as a cross between a cat and a monkey, with perfectly white, sharp teeth. Sings like a bird. Pencil on Stillman & Birn Epsilon 8 1/2" x 11".

Geoffroy’s Tamarins, Gamboa. Cute as a cross between a cat and a monkey. Sings like a bird. Pencil on Stillman & Birn Epsilon 8 1/2″ x 11″.

About zeladoniac

Debby Kaspari travels the world with sketchbook and binoculars, drawing and painting in wild and not-so-wild landscapes. Norman, Oklahoma is her home base, and she lives there with her tropical ecologist husband and a mackerel tabby named Gizmo.
This entry was posted in Adventure!, Animals, architecture, Art, bird art, birding, birds, Boats, Drawing, Environment, field sketching, life drawing, natural history, Nature, Panama, plein air, rainforest, Scope sketching, travel, tropics, Watercolor, Wildlife and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Earth Day with the Motmot

  1. hmunro says:

    SO GORGEOUS. Love your witty and pithy observations, too. Yours is my favorite Earth Day post yet. Thank you!

  2. Becky says:

    Wonderful drawings! Blind contour? Totally impressive! Can’t wait for the book!

  3. Wonderful images, the quality looks amazing to me! Looking forward to your book! Happy Earth Day!

  4. Linda Sumner says:

    So glad I have your blog. Have a wonderful time in Panama. Would love to know how you found this place to rent.

  5. zeladoniac says:

    Thank you, Linda! We’re enjoying our writer’s retreat. The house belongs to a friend who’s traveling, so it’s an inside job:-)

  6. Stanley Cotter says:

    Thanks for making my Earth Day complete. The drawings bring everything closer to enjoying your stay in the tropics.

  7. Corienne Cotter says:

    Love hearing your adventures and seeing more of your wonderful sketches.

  8. Very much looking forward to your book and to spreading the word about it!

  9. zeladoniac says:

    Thank you all- so good to hear what you think!

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