Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Red-headed Woodpecker (March 2005)

Another use for dead trees. There were several pairs of red-headed woodpeckers nesting in the Batsto Village area of the Wharton State Forest. This one was flying about the picnic area and I followed it back to its nest tree. I wasn't really this close; this is a crop of an image made using a 100 - 400 mm zoom lens at 400 with a 1.4x teleconverter. 

I mentioned the access restrictions placed on the great horned owl nest in my March 22nd Sunday Six set. Nesting birds can be very sensitive to activity around them and humans are rather large animals. To much activity too close and the bird may abandon the nest site.  Clearly some birds are more tolerant than others. The great horned owl that nested in the parking lot at the Everglades visitor center, shown in the Sparkle theme shot for the 366 Project, didn't mind the commotion below. But is prudent to err on the side of caution and leave nesting birds in peace. And keep saving for the 600 mm f/2. 

Monday, March 23, 2009

When I first went to see the owls shown in my Eyes theme image and again in my March 22nd Sunday Six, my friend and park naturalist Kristina told me that a repeated suggestion was that they "clean the place up" by getting rid of all the dead trees. One of the best things you can do for wildlife is to keep dead trees around. The owl nest is in a dead tree. And this one has provided many a woodpecker with a meal.

If you've got a dead tree on your property, and it's not a threat to fall on anything then leave it be. Mother Nature will thank you.

A good bird gone bad. This laughing gull is giving smoking at try. But after chewing on this cigarette butt for awhile it decided smoking wasn't its thing. 

It's no laughing matter when when people throw their butts on the ground. Can someone explain to me why tossing cigarette butts out of car window is acceptable to so many people? I just don't get it. Seems pretty black and white to me, littering is littering.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Sunday Six: March 22nd

                                   Great Horned Owl

This owl roosts behind my office. I originally thought there was a nesting pair, but it seems this owl is only using this nest as a roost. Owls don't build nests. This one was used by a pair of red-tailed hawks the past two years. I wonder what they thought of the new tenant?

                                   Great Horned Owlet

This is the same nest as shown in the Eyes 365 theme. There are three owlets in this nest, but I did not see them. The nest area is now roped off and access is limited. This was the only sightline I had to the nest. It seems some idiots were going up and banging on the tree to get the owls to poke their heads out. How would you like someone pounding on the walls of you home when you're trying to sleep?

                                   Which Way?

The gray trail leads to the owls. As can be clearly seen, the trail is straight. Yet there are two right turns and one left indicated here. Fortunately, I had been to the nest before and didn't get lost.

                                   Brown Creeper

This elusive bird is hard to find let alone photograph. This was the only shot I got before it flew off.

                                   Seed Pods

These were rattling in the wind along the trail back to the nature center.

                                   White Tailed Deer

The Key Deer in my March 1st six are endangered. These are anything but. I saw at least thirty today. Many hiding in plain sight. I'm sure I walked right by plenty more. There are no predators to keep the population in check, and these deer will eat the entire understory of the woods. This is a problem throughout New Jersey  and much of the northeastern US.

Winter Star Party's Mascot

The only kind of snowman you'll see in the Florida Keys. He's there every year greeting us as we arrive for the Winter Star Party.

Pelicans and Terns

The National Key Deer Refuge is one island over from the star party. And we took a ride over one day to see what we could see. This dock was actually outside of the the refuge. But the birds didn't seem to mind.

Mangrove Buckeye

There were butterflies all along the road ways in the refuge. These buckeyes were quite common.

Key Deer

Unfortunately I do not have a good shot to give the scale of these creatures. They are the size of a large dog, up to one's waist. They didn't seem to mind us and after while just walked right on over. Expecting food no doubt. I was using a long lens and was to close to focus when they walked up to us.

Tree Snail

Seeing shells in trees was something new for me.


I'll finish this six with an image of the cowfish minding its manners.
Sunday Six: February 22nd

Double-crested Cormorant

A six pack of shots taken on my visit to the Everglades last month as I catch up on my sixes. This was taken at the Anhinga Trail on my first evening there.

Osprey Chick

The next morning I headed back into the park. My first stop was the Flamingo area. One of the rangers there told me that this chick and its nest mate had yet to make their first flight. And while they both exercised their wings, they stayed nest bound.

Key Mirage

The view in the other direction form the osprey nest is out over the bay to the Keys. This key appears to be floating over the bay, a type of mirage known as a superior mirage.

Snowy Egrets

I then left Flamingo working my way back through the park. But at one stop I met a fellow visitor who told me of some roseate spoonbills at Eco Pond back at Flamingo. So back I went. These egrets were also enjoying watching the spoonbills.

Spoonbill and Egret

It's easy to see how the spoonbill got its name. I'd seen spoonbills before in the Everglades. But never close enough to photograph. Here they came within 20 meters.

Owl Power

My last stop was at Mahogany Hammock as I had been told of barred owl chicks. I met the woman who had told me about the spoonbills at Eco Pond in the parking lot. And I returned the favor by finding the barred owl chicks for her.

It was a very nice morning in the Everglades.

Portrait of bird named for its legs. Can you name it?

For whatever the spoonbill stirs up. As that will be breakfast for the egrets.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Anna's Hummingbird (April 2006)

Taken at the Boyce-Thompson Arboretum in Superior, Arizona. I'd been trying to photograph hummingbirds in the gardens with little success. I was taking a break when this bird alit on branch behind the bench I was sitting on. Moving very slowing I swung my camera around and got a few shots off. This is my favorite.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Monument Valley Sunrise (September 2006)

One final Monument Valley image, as I catch up with my In With The Old Challenge. This was earlier on the same day as the sand storm. We, my brother and I, had planned to photograph sunrise on the two mornings we were at Monument Valley (dad and Uncle John were back at the hotel sleeping). But it was not to be. Our rental car, an SUV, had one key hole, on the driver's door. It did not have a keyless entry system. And the lock cylinder became detached from the door. We could put the key in and it would turn, but so would the entire lock. Round and round. So we all got to sleep in on the second morning, as the nearest locksmith was three hours away. 

Monument Valley Sand Storm (September 2006)

Another image form the trip discussed in my last post. This time there is no lull in the sand storm. And again we can see one of the mittens in the background. This shot was taken at 4 PM on an otherwise cloud free day.

In With The Old, Week Nine

Monument Valley Sandstorm (September 2006)

I've been tagged twice with the "66 Photo" [my name] challenge:

•Go to your photo folder on your computer
•Go to the 6th folder of photos
•Go to the sixth picture
•Put the picture on your blog and a description of it
•Invite six friends to join the challenge
•Link them in your blog

I don't have *a* photo folder on my computer, I have several, depending on if they are originals, derivatives; If they are awaiting ingestion, key wording, editing, or archiving as per my standard workflow. But in an attempt to follow the spirit if not the letter of the challenge I've selected this image. It is the sixth image in the sixth folder of my "finished" images.

This is an image taken at Monument Valley in Arizona. You can see one of the mittens in the background. This was taken during a lull in a sand storm (which made for some nice photo ops). Let to right are my brother Jeff, my 'Uncle' John, my dad, and me (the camera ads ten pounds!).

We were in Monument Valley in Septmeber because we weren't there in April. We had planned to be there in April, but while at the Winter Star Party in February 2006 I got a phone call from my dad. He was apologetic as he told me we would need to postpone our trip. He had gone to the doctor that day and the doctor told him to go home and do absolutely nothing. The doctor also scheduled him for triple bypass surgery. That surgery would happen in April.

As you can see the surgery was a success. And we went on our trip. My dad is a big western movie buff. He and my 'Uncle' John (more on him later) have been traveling together for over ten years and have known each other since my dad was five (dad will be 80 this year). They've been to Australia, New Zealand, China, Japan, Hong Kong, India, Egypt, Israel, Russia, England, Scandinavia, the Baltics, Checkoslovakia, and most recently Hawaii this past February to visit John's son and his wife. But dad had never been to the American Southwest. So my brother and I decided to take him, and he invited his childhood pal. We started in Los Vegas, visited Meteor Crater, Petrified Forest/Painted Desert, Canyon de Chelly, Monument Valley, and the Grand Canyon. We had a great time. Dad was a little winded at times, but otherwise fine.

Dad is still doing well, and he will be traveling along with myself, my brother, and the rest of our families to Cabo San Lucas the first week of April.

The same cannot be said of 'Uncle' John. As you probably gathered from the scare quotes, Uncle John isn't really my uncle. He is my godfather. And my dad's oldest friend. And this week he moved into an assisted living home. Uncle John has Alzheimer’s. The trip to Hawaii was very difficult for my dad, as Uncle John could not take care of himself. To the point were he couldn't even buckle his seatbelt on the plane unassisted.

I saw Uncle John a couple of times after this trip, but this was the last time I spent any real time with him. I have a lot of great memories. But right now I feel very sad.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Two male and two female harlequin ducks.

A blurred harlequin duck flying by.

Inside the lighthouse. There are 217 on them. It is the second tallest lighthouse in the USA.


Recycled here.


These are purple sandpipers. Yeah I don't get it either.

Yes they are. The rocks on the jetty at Barnegat Lighthouse State Park. I didn't tell my friend Laura, who doesn't like walking on them, but I almost went down twice today. Slippery indeed.

Update: Ignore the warning at your own risk! See here for the story of another visitor who wasn't so lucky. Scary.

                                   Barnegat Lighthouse

I'm a member of the Pinelands Photography Group and this Sunday we had an outing to the Barnegat Lighthouse State Park (which was the subject of my first Sunday Six post as well). Not surprisingly I saw and photographed many of the same things. Including the namesake lighthouse.


Barnegat Inlet is a popular wintering site for waterfowl. And a popular destination for birders. This group is from the Delaware Valley Ornithological Club and included a group from the Chester County YMCA. 

                                   Common Loon

They were looking at this common loon who is all decked out in his breeding plumage. 

                                   Fishing Boat

We were also able to observe a number of fishing boats coming in. As you can see it is a rather grey day. And had been raining overnight and off an on throughout the morning. That had to make an unpleasant job even worse. I enjoy seafood, but have no interest in catching it. 


The loon on the other hand had no problem with the weather, note the raindrops, nor with catching his lunch. I'm not exactly sure what he's got. A clam perhaps?

                                   Ducks in a Row

There were also several species of duck enjoying the weather. Including these female long-tailed ducks.

Despite the clouds and occasional sprinkle, it was actually a pleasant day, due in part to the lack of wind. A first in all my visits here.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

In motion.

This is a cowfish, so named for the "horns" over its eyes. I found several of them in tidal pools on West Summerland Key. But this was the only one spitting. I have no idea why it was doing this nor what it was spitting at. It would swim around the pool, then up to the edge, and spit. Curious.

If anyone knows why it did this or what specific species of cowfish this is please let me know via the comments. Thanks.

It's a B52's song.

This barracuda lives in the Blue Hole in the National Key Deer Refuge on Big Pine Key in Florida (almost as bad as the last post!). It wasn't always this way. The Blue Hole is in the center of Big Pine Key, and is not connected to the ocean. It is a lake that has a fresh water lens (from rainwater) on top of a salt water base (from the water table). Barracuda are ocean fish. So what is it doing in a lake in the middle of an island? It was literally blown in from the sea. The storm surge from a hurricane (the ranger wasn't sure which one) carried this fish as well as a single tarpon in.

Watson Boulevard, No Name Key, Florida, USA, Earth, Solar System, Orion Arm, Milky Way, Local Group, Virgo Supercluster.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Earthshine, light from the sun reflected off of the Earth and then again off of the Moon and onto the sensor in my camera. All for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy!

And if you look up from the signs you see this. I like how this image looks very three dimensional to me.

It takes me two plus days and 1350 miles to get to these signs. I've made the trip five years in a row. And I can't wait to go back.

A pair of white ibis in flight. :-)