Birder's Guide

DEC 2013

Birder's Guide is the American Birding Association's newest publication. Each issue focuses on a key subject, providing tips from experienced birders on a wide variety of topics like Travel, Listing & Taxonomy, Gear, and Conservation & Community.

Issue link: http://bg.aba.org/i/216642

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Field Sketching Fig. 8. A dog water bottle with a cup attached to the side is handy, as it keeps some water clean for drinking. Or I just bring a liter water bottle and a small yogurt container. may be purchased at most arts and crafts stores for $6 to $10. They are great for pencils and pens of any type, but they don't handle wet media particularly well. Skip the watercolor, unless it's only for light tinting. Good pens for both sketching and journal-keeping are made by Sakura, Faber-Castell, and Staedtler. These all have permanent ink and a variety of tip sizes (from 0.005 to 0.8 mm), the smaller the number, the smaller the nib. I like these for travel as there is only a minor chance of leaking and clogging on fights—unlike with Koh-I-Noor Rapidograph pens. I don't like ballpoint pens, but this is only a personal preference. I use mechanical pencils. Although they can fail Fig. 10. Holbein sketch pads and a large sketchbook. 28 Birder's Guide to Gear | December 2013 Fig. 9. Niji Waterbrushes in two sizes. when wet, there are no worries about sharpening. I also use drafting pencils with thick lead; they must be sharpened, which inconveniently requires a pencil sharpener (but they can also be sharpened with a knife if need be). There are many great, compact tools that make working in the feld easier. For adding color, I prefer watercolors, but many artists like colored pencils. Either option travels well. A set of a few pencils with a standard spectrum of colors is light and can produce almost any color needed. Watercolor boxes vary greatly in price; you can spend a dollar for a tiny tin or several hundred dollars. I travel with a small Winsor & Newton watercolor box. One of the less expensive ones costs only about $20 and has 12 colors. When mixed, they provide just about any color you need. I bring a few extra brushes, not relying only on the tiny collapsible one that frequently comes with a small box of half pans (the blocks of watercolor pigment). The obvious drawback with watercolors is the need for water. I carry a dog water bottle that has a small dish attached. Recently, I have been trying Niji Waterbrushes. The plastic handle is hollow, effectively making it a tiny water bottle. As you squeeze, water enters the brush tip to wet the paint or clean the brush. Very handy! Two drawbacks are the dismal brush quality and the price. These are a bit costly for what they are at $10 to $15.

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