the great white egret flock in the marshes around Bodega Harbor as they migrate south
The Dungeness crab season officially opened in Bodega Bay over the past weekend and the beaches have been teeming with life just after dawn- fishing boats on the bay, surfers on the south swell, pelicans skimming cresting waves, geese wedging overhead, sanderling and dowitcher combing the shoreline, suddenly strewn with bull kelp and crab carcasses. Ene and I typically walk a stretch of Doran Beach each morning with our dogs as the sun comes up, so we’ve developed a good feel for the patterns of migration, tides and seasonal shifts, most of our weather originating offshore.
Lately I’ve been drawn to the marshes around Bodega Harbor, where the great white egret takes seasonal shelter on the journey south. The birds typically cluster in large groups at the harbor’s shallow edge, where bulrush protects against wind and wave. Just as the sun rises over the hills to the east, the egret take flight in small groups and circle back, drying their wings and warming up in the sun, sometimes landing remotely to forage for breakfast. It’s a great place to study how these elegant birds move in flight; they take off, climb to soaring height and land within about 30 seconds, and the process takes about an hour, when the flock begins to disperse for a more substantial meal.
I’m preparing to carve a slightly larger-than-life sculpture of a whooping crane for our Tsuru project in Denver, and have been enjoying my morning field research before committing to a final form in wood. My sculpture will combine additive and subtractive techniques. I’ll laminate layers of basswood to approximate the shape of a soaring crane, then carve the form with chisels, rasps, adzes and draw-knives, probably adding a final layer in clay for texture. The wooden form will eventually be cast in bronze and, measuring about 8’ x 9’, will need to break down to transport to the foundry, so I’ll engineer a joint to allow for the wings to be separated from the outstretched body.