Sunday, November 30, 2008

These two young elephant seals are engaging in behavior that for now is just play, learning the skills needed as adults. But as adults, this behavior is quite serious. Large male seals have been seriously injured as males challenge each other for access to the adult females.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

My friend Scott makes telescopes, for fun and profit. He works at Tele Vue, a company that makes high end refractors and eye pieces. His passion is astronomy and he has made a number of scopes including this one. This is a one of a kind scope assembled from surplus Tele Vue parts. It looks good and it gives good looks.

Products of the Batsto iron works during the War for Independence. Not only were the iron workers exempt form military service during the Revolutionary War, but there was company of fifty men, with two lieutenants and John Cox, then owner of the iron works, as captain of the unit, authorized to defend the ironworks. 

As befits a bird nest built in the Pinelands National Reserve, this one in made with twigs, leaves, and pine needles. This nest was above my car in the Batsto visitors center parking lot.

Thanks to Lorrie (see Challengers sidebar on the right) as it was her needlework theme image that made me look at the theme in a different light.

If you look closely, you'll see that this map depicts the vision of Joseph Wharton, Esq. Mr. Wharton was a Philadelphia businessman who attempted to buy up much of what is now the Pinelands National Reserve with the idea to sell the water in the Pinelands to his home city. 

Eventually Wharton would amass holdings of 112,000 acres within the Pine Barrens. The New Jersey legislature got wind of Wharton's plan  to sell water and passed a law banning the sale of water out of state. Wharton then turned to farming. In 1912 Wharton's heirs attempted to sell the land to New Jersey, but a referendum to do so was defeated. They state would later reconsider and in two separate deals would acquire 96,000 acres by 1956.

I live near where the Rancocas Creek meets the Delaware River.

Continuing with the "show me the money" themes, here we have coins typically used in everyday life in a town like Batsto. The larger ones are pennies. The two out of focus smaller ones are, I think, a two cent piece and a half dime.

Another exhibit at the Batsto visitors center, of the day to day currency used in the town. Bank notes used to be just that, notes for payment upon presentation issued by a bank. The total face value shown here is sixty cents. Half a day's pay for working in the iron works.

A display in the visitors center at Batsto Village. The Miller family and its descendants worked at Batsto for three different owners of the town. Batsto was a company town, with the workers all living in company owned homes, being paid in company script, and shopping at the company store. 

For 92 years the owners were a different family, the Richards family. Building # 4 in the model was the Richard's mansion. The smaller brown buildings were the workers homes. In 1876 Joseph Wharton purchased the property. More about him in a future post.

Prior to the formation of the Batsto ironworks and the production of metal tools, stone was was used, as with this axe head. 

Before European settlers came to Batsto it was used by Native Americans beginning around 3000 BCE (and perhaps as far back as 9000 BCE). By the time of the first settlers it was the Lenni-Lenape tribe who were resident throughout the area. And this image shows an example of their technology.

My next stop was Batsto Village, part of which is shown in the model above. The "You Are Here" sign refers to building # 1, the visitors center, in which I shot this, and several other, challenge images.

The industrial village at Batsto was founded in the 18th century as a iron works. With the collapse of the bog iron industry it became a center of glass production in the 19th century. Today it, like Harrisville, is part of the Wharton State Forest. But unlike Harrisville many of the buildings are still standing and in working order. And now the village is a state historic site.

While wandering about the Harrisville site as described in the prior post, I came upon this rusted and bent horseshoe. I've no idea if it is from two years or two centuries ago. And I wonder how it came to be bent. 

A friend turned me on to the book, Ghost Towns and Other Quirky Places in the New Jersey Pine Barrens, by Barbara Solem-Stull. And I decided to visit some today. The first was Harrisville which for much of the 1800's was a thriving paper mill town. Today all that is left, except for a few other crumbling walls, is shown in the image above, of the lone remaining wall of the paper mill. 

The book gives excellent directions on how to find the site. If it hadn't I would not have. I followed the route described, pulled on to the sand road, and parked facing the ruins. And I didn't see them, so thick was the vegetation. After checking the site map in the book I looked up and saw the fence around the ruins, almost completely obscured by trees, shrubs and vines. I followed the fence around to the end and found a spot where I could take this shot. Alas, actually wandering about the ruins is not allowed, so this is the only angle to shoot from.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Is a nice sand shower while sunbathing. At least to young this elephant seal it is.

On the north end of the Point Reyes National Seashore is the Tule Elk Reserve. September is mating season and the male here is sniffing about his harem searching for willing females. 

I don't know if he found any, as moments after I took this shot very thick fog rolled in completely obscuring the elk. This would be the only good image of the elk I was able to capture. 

Heavy fog would be a recurring theme all along the coast, from Point Reyes all the way to Los Angeles. 

Perched well above the Pacific ocean on the cliffs overlooking the lighthouse at Point Reyes National Seashore, this peregrine falcon looked very small and lonely. But appearances can be deceiving, as its mate came into view as I walked a bit farther along the trail. A park ranger would later inform me that they are a resident pair, nesting in the cliffs here.

Monday, November 17, 2008

A pair of young northern elephant seals. This is another shot taken on my California trip. Their parents, and the rest of the adult seals, have already headed out to sea to feeding grounds. The young remain behind on the beaches feeding in the relatively protected coves. But eventually they too will leave the nursery and make their way in the world.

The royalty of the butterfly world, the monarch. This particular butterfly was imaged along the California coast in September and was probably migrating to its winter home. 

Monarchs have an incredible life cycle. They leave their wintering grounds in Mexico or in southern California in the spring and over several generations they migrate throughout the US and into southern Canada. Each generation pushing a bit farther north. Then in the fall the last generation migrates all the way back to the wintering grounds, a place they've never been and was last seen by their great great great great great grandparents.

They can be seen in large numbers in the fall in Cape May, NJ as they pass through heading south. Imagine, these fragile creates, some starting out as far north Maine, traveling down the east coast as they fly on to Mexico, congregating in the millions in a remote fifty acres in the Transverse Neovolcanic Mountains in Mexico.

The butterfly in the image wasn't heading to those mountains, as only butterflies living east of the rockies wind up there. Southern California or Baja Mexico was the more likely destination. 

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The sun sinking into ...

... a cloud / fog bank ...

... out over the pacific ocean.

This set of shots was taken at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. And the idea of using a sequence of sunset images for the theme was stolen inspired by LawGirl (see Other Challengers list on the right).

When you emerge from the tunnel on the ocean side you're greeted with this view of a pocket beach and waterfall. 

My friend and colleague Rob is shooting the last rays of the sunset from a tunnel under the Pacific Coast Highway at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, in the Big Sur region.

The pacific ocean from the Pacific Coast Highway south of Monterey and north of Big Sur. Most of the time the view of the ocean was shrouded in fog. Here the fog lifted, literally, off the ground to become low clouds. Apparently this is not uncommon. At Point Reyes National Seashore you need to go down 30 stories of stairs to get to the lighthouse, because this allows the light to be seen under the fog. Contrast this with lighthouses on the east coast of the US, where I live, which are often set at the high points along the coast. 

So there are two openings here, the lifting of the fog to open the view and the openings in the clouds, which are the obvious theme of the image.

Monday, November 10, 2008

We Interrupt This Challenge ...

Hummingbird Garden

Leaves and Branches

Foggy Meadow

Chicory Flower

Northern Cardinal

The NJ Audubon Society's Rancocas Nature Center is a mere eight miles from my home and over the years I've wandered the trails and taken my share of images. This month they are having a photo exhibition and they asked their visitors to submit up to five images. These are the five I chose.

NJ is the most densely populated state in the US. Most people are familiar with the industrial corridor of the NJ Turnpike, which connects Philadelphia and New York City. But if you cross the state in the other direction, from the Delaware Water Gap in the highlands, through the Pinelands and on down to Cape May, you'll learn why NJ is called the Garden State.

But there are many pressures on these undeveloped spaces. The NJ Audubon Society is one of a number of groups dedicated to preserving what is left of the wilderness in NJ. And I am glad to support them with both as a volunteer and as a member.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

This fence is at one of the retired ranches at Point Reyes, which has now been turned into a historic site. There were over a hundred meters of this fence, all of it covered with lichens. This was the normal state of the wood fences throughout the park.

Cows on a hill in the fog. 

This is the first of a couple of images made at Point Reyes National Seashore, which is north of San Francisco, California. I was staying in San Mateo, which is south of San Francisco and when I started out that morning the weather was perfect. When I arrived at the visitor's center at Point Reyes the sun was shining. But as I drove toward the shoreline the fog rolled in, greatly limiting photo ops. 

There are a number of working cattle ranches in Point Reyes, grandfathered in when the National Seashore was created. In fact it was a joint effort of the Sierra Club and the ranchers to preserve the land and the two groups asked the National Park Service for help.

I had expected to see wildlife and my mammal list included coyote, elk, squirrels, and deer at Point Reyes. But I hadn't expected to see cows on the hillsides.