Untamed Land

Untamed Land
Untamed Land

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Bangkok Surprise

Bangkok is huge, and it is hot, hot, hot. It is also a modern, prosperous metropolis that competes with Singapore and Tokyo. It takes hours to travel from one end of town to the other. You can find pretty much anything there. Shopping and dining opportunities are endless.
On my last trip there, Wally, Gary, Pbum and I decided to do some birding in Bangkok's largest metropolitan park, Lumpini Park. We took a sky train there in the morning after a liesurely breakfast at the hotel.
This is the grandiose entrance to the park, looking back the way we came.
The birds in Bangkok are suitably coiffed in the latest fashions. This is a White-vented Myna.
The more common, Common Mynas.
Peaceful Dove.
Spotted Dove.
Oriental Magpie Robin.
Eurasian Tree Sparrows are probably the most common bird in Bangkok.
Asian Pied Starlings are one of many species of starling that occur in Thailand.
Pied Fantails are the most common of 7 fantail species in Thailand. Other birds we saw in Lumpini Park that morning were, Coppersmith Barbet, Olive-backed Sunbird, Black-naped Oriole, Common Iora, Streak-eared Bulbul, and Barn Swallow.
In the middle of Lumpini Park we found this man made lake.
We saw this Little Egret, and a Little Heron there.
There were introduced Red-eared Sliders, and this native turtle, Rice Field Terrapin.

Wally pointed to a spot on the bank and said,"what's that?". At first I thought it was a large turtle. Then I realized that it was something poking it's head out of a drainage pipe. Then I thought maybe it was a crocadile. Finally I realized that it was a large Water Monitor. Now that was a surprize to see a six foot lizard in a city park in one of the world's biggest cities.
We watched as it slowly emerged from the pipe.
It slipped into the water.

It calmly cruised along the shore, first in one direction, then the other.
After a few minutes it emerged from the water.
Jurrasic Park right in the city. It let us come to within about 6 feet of it, and showed no fear. We watched it eat several snails, hiding under fallen leaves. In fact, as we continued on our way, we saw several others, some up to about 8 feet long. They non-chalantly ambled past picnicing families with little fear. It turns out that Water Monitors are common throughout Bangkok, always near water.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat in Cambodia is the largest archeological site in the world. It is roughly the size of New York City. It consists of many temple complexes scattered throughout the tropical forests of Northwestern Cambodia.
The people who built it were from the Khmer civilization. Most of it is about 1000 years old. The revenue that the Cambodian government derives from tourism to Angkor Wat is one it's main sources of income. Unfortunately the more popular temple complexes have a twisted Disneyesque atmosphere with hordes of tourists running a gauntlet of local hustlers pushing everything from postcards and bottled water to heroin and child prostitutes. This chaos greatly diminishes the quality of the experience, but peace and quiet can be found in the more far flung sites.
The earlier in the morning you can get there, the nicer it is. Angkor Wat is near the town of Siem Reap. It is easy to arrange a ride to the ruins by flagging down any Tuk tuk, (three wheeled motorcycle taxi) and negotiating a price with the driver. They will take you around the various temples, and wait for you.
We went with the first driver we flagged down, and used him for three days, plus he made all the arrangements to visit some other places like Prek Toal Bird Sanctuary on Tonle Sap Lake. He charged about 12 dollars a day.
Before the first day was over, I forgot the names of the various temples, and administrative buildings etc. There were statues of the Bhudda inside most of the temple alcoves. Bats too.
Here is a show off who probably wont be passing on his genetic information.
There is so much intricate stonework everywhere you turn, that you may experience sensory overload.
Seven headed Naga at dawn.
You may have seen some of the movies that have been filmed here.
Notice the carved guards on the sides.
Novice Monk.
The Bayon Temple contains numerous faces, about 10ft across. This is where we saw our first Black Baza, which is a very striking, crested raptor.  another raptor, Besra was nearby. There were many great birds, but I was surprized that there were no lizards at all.
Macaques confidently stroll the grounds in some places.
There were Red-breasted Parakeets dropping figs on visitors at Ta Proehm.
We got in a boat on Tonle Sap Lake at 5am to be at Prek Toal at dawn. This is my first bee-eater, Blue-tailed Bee-eater.
Also my first of many Brahminy Kites.
Prek Toal is home to thousands of nesting Asian Openbilled Storks.
There are lesser numbers of Painted Storks. Prek Toal is the best place in Southeast Asia to see many critically endagered birds.
For many years, I had hoped to see Flying Foxes. These were right in the middle of town in Siem Reap.

Friday, June 25, 2010

In the Ether

There is a song on the last cd by the rock group The Who, (Endless Wire), called, 'In the Ether'. I cant remember what the song is about but I like the title. It implies ethereal, which describes my latest painting. Instead of doing the usual over-painting that I normally do,'Giant Kingfisher', for example, I was all about subtlety with this one.
In the Ether, 12x16".
This is all lightness and understatement, which is a bit of a departure for me. It is hard to tell that these are even Bison. Believe it or not, I intended it that way. The whole painting only took about 5 hours to complete. I do like the mood of it.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Happy Little Birdies

Like Istated before, I would post some of the recent painting I got from the gallery as soon as I glamourized them.
Original version. A boring painting of an obscure bird, Lapland Longspur, 8x10".
The new version, still a boring painting of an obscure bird. They are beautiful birds anyway. What I wanted to accomplish with these changes was to create the look of light reflecting off the surface of the bird's feathers. The reflections are not so strong in the actual painting as they show in the photo. The rock looked really funky so I replaced it with tundra vegetation.
The original version of Bathing Beauty, 8x10". I like the concept, but the painting is too busy, and just does'nt look right.

Mostly I just darkened the overall painting including the shadows on the Myrtle Warbler.
Myrtle, (Yellow-rumped), Warblers are incredibly beautiful in their prime breeding plummage.
Owls have been a popular subject matter as far as sales go. I thought this Saw-whet Owl would sell fast, it did'nt.
I decided to 'Batemanize' this one by softening it with a little extra atmosphere, (pale gray wash).  I also made minor alterations here and there. This painting looks good to me. 'Sittin Pretty', 11x14".
Saw-whet Owls are adorable. Although I have heard them call many times, I have only seen one.
I made no changes on this Osprey, 16x12".
There were also no changes made to this Keel-billed Toucan, 12x16".
What will I paint next? I have no idea.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Bear Comes to Visit

This afternoon,just after I watched Brazil defeat The Ivory Coast in the World cup, (1:00pm Alaska time), I heard some juncos raising a ruckus outside. I thought I might get an opportunity to get some experimental photos of them with the new camera.
At first when I stepped out on to my balcony I did'nt notice anything odd. Then I noticed a large, dark lump below my nieghbor's deck.
This was no dog. You can tell just by the texture of it's fur, it's a Black Bear.

It had a radio collar, and two ear tags. It was eating some barbeque ribs it had stolen off the nieghbor's grill. It saw me but ignored me completely. I even had time to go back inside to get my good camera.
About five minutes later, the nieghbor came outside to check on his ribs. I yelled,"there's a bear below your deck". He looked at me with puzzlement, so I repeated it. Then he looked down and saw the bear only about 8 feet away. He said," there sure is", and yelled "get out of here". The bear just looked at him so he yelled again.
This time the bear responded and walked away, into my yard.
The bear walked along the side of the house, and into the front yard. You can see I was only 15 or16 feet from it.
I had to run down the stairs, and around the house to see the bear cross the street in front of the house.
It boldly walked into the parking lot of the bank across the street. Where you see the fence in the background, is the main street in town. It's a very busy street everyday except Sunday.
Today's bear visit was only the second black Bear that I personally have seen in the heighborhood. The neighbors have seen many more. The Summer before last I heard a commotion on my balcony around midnight. When I looked out the curtain, I was standing toe to toe with this Black Bear that stood taller than me.
My little bear tales are pathetic compared to my friend Gary. He owns The Sea Lion Gallery in Homer. His wife, dog, and himself witnessed this Grizzly Bear kill a Moose in his driveway in Homer, AK.