Monday, August 2, 2010

Around Lake Ralphine

Lake Ralphine was created in 1882 when a dam was built on a tributary of Santa Rosa Creek. The end near the dam is shallow and full of garbage, water weeds and logs. I guess it's warm, too, because I often see turtles floating near the surface when it's sunny. Last week I walked around the lake at the end of my morning walk, instead of at the beginning. I was hoping to see dragonflies and damselflies. Instead, I saw turtles on logs, on rocks and, amazingly, one on the shore. Most of the time I can't tell, for sure, what kind of turtle I'm looking at. This one, though, was basking on the shore, just below the trail around the lake and continued to do so, while I sketched her. The red mark on her face easily identified her as a red-eared slider (Trachemys scripta elegans), not a native of our area. Although this species is native to the Mississippi valley in the United States, it has spread throughout the world as a pet that's often released in nearby ponds and lakes.
I try to cram as many sketches on one page of my sketchbook as I can, which is why I've also included a sketch of a Lesser goldfinch (Spinus psaltria) singing it's heart out on a trail in the park. I wish I could draw it's gorgeous song. It's a complex, variable one that often fools me into thinking I'm hearing some other bird that I've never heard before. The sample at All About Birds gives you an idea, although it seems rather paltry compared to the song this bird was singing while I sketched him.

The little varmints in the right corner are Chloe's favorites, California ground squirrels (Spermophilus beecheyi). I'm quite fond of them, too and we watched them for a while at boat dock picnic area before leaving the park for the day.

For more about Red-eared sliders:
San Francisco State Department of Geography

Lesser goldfinch:
All About Birds


  1. Lovely sketches Debbie, I'm sure there's a book waiting to hold them and all these stories - Chloe can be the main character!

  2. What beautiful sketches, Debbie. I particularly love the graphite one but would be very happy to have been the artist of either :) Always love hearing the details too.

  3. Love your turtles Debbie...they , along with hedgehogs are some of my favorite animals. And of course enjoying your comments along...

  4. Hi Debbie, I loved that you attached the song. I let it play while I was reading your post and it made me smile. Thank you for that. Your sketches are wonderful and I agree, there is so much information in your posts it could easily become a book.

  5. Keep on cramming! I love every detail, as well as your stories, tangential subplots and soundtrack.

  6. You must have a special fondness for turtles -- you draw them so well. I especially like all the values and mood of the black and white one.

    We found a red slider a couple years ago, a big fella. At the time I was well aquainted with Oregon's native turtles and immediatly set about to find out who this intruder was.

  7. I have to agree with Elva, you've really captured their "turtleness!"

    I enjoyed the goldfinch song, too, it adds another dimension of experience to your blog posting. Hmmm, I wonder what it WOULD look like if you drew its song?