Thursday, December 31, 2009

A nice juxtaposition of a sea turtle and the reflection of the holiday lights at the aquarium. Makes it seem as if she/he's swimming through space.

Curiously, there is a book of the same name and a plush toy turtle that projects the constellations.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

365 Theme 165: Landscape

I spent a few hours at the Great Swamp NWR yesterday.

It was bleak.

It was quiet.

It was cold.

It was snow covered.

It was empty.

It was wonderful.

I was in the middle of one of the most populated places in the United States. And I felt completely alone.

You can read about the Great Swamp NWR here and here.

(And afterwards food and friends at the NJAS Citizen Science holiday party. Where is was nice and warm. :-)

Just smile and wave boys, smile and wave.

Sunday, December 20, 2009


I've only seen jellyfish in the wild washed up on the beach. Needless to say that's not when they're at their best. At the Adventure Aquarium, they looked other worldly as they swam up and down in the water column. The dark exhibit corridor and the holiday lighting made for difficult photo ops and added to the alienness of these life forms.

And they really do seem very strange to me. Washed up on the beach they are just blobs with the occasional tentacle. In the water they were majestic, mesmerizing beings, swimming silently in the dim light. Pulsing their entire bodies, seemingly oblivious to each other. What were they thinking? Can they think? They don't seem to have a head to house a brain to do any thinking with. But something is controlling the pulsing, right?

Off course jellyfish do live in a different world. We live in a world of air, they in one of water. But fish seem familiar, they've got faces and just fins instead of feet. Lobsters and crabs are just big insects. But jellyfish are weird.

I suspect that if we ever do meet aliens they will be either strangely familiar but subtly different, wrong; or they will be nothing like we imagined. Until then there's always the aquarium (or the open ocean, maybe I'll take up scuba diving).

Where's that santa guy ...

Saturday, December 19, 2009

365 Theme 3: A Movie Title

Dum dum, dum dum, dum dum ...
365 Theme 268: School

A somewhat more traditional aquarium scene.
365 Theme 284: Silly

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you, Scuba Santa!

(At the Adventure Aquarium in Camden, NJ.)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Ducks and Dinner

Two years ago I participated in an event called the World Series of Birding.

This always struck me as a curious name, as there is no series (it is a one day event) and it is limited to New Jersey. Oh well.

Despite being first timers we finished in the top 20! (Ok, so we were 20th. That's in the top 20.)

Last year, for a variety of reasons, we were unable to field a team. But we do plan on competing again in 2010. And as part of our training we get together monthly for a birding excursion. We called our December outing "Ducks and Dinner".

First we went looking for ducks, and any other birds we could find, along the Jersey shore. Several of those we spotted (and were close enough to photograph!) are shown above. And since this was a training trip, I'll let you join in on the fun and identify the three species shown.

As the sun was setting we headed out to a local seafood restaurant for the dinner part of the trip, where we planned for our next outing, tentatively entitled "Gulls and Buoys".

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Conowingo Eagles

That lens isn't entirely useless ...
Trouble In River City

More shots of an eagle fishing taken with my short slow lens. (I wanted to start with the image of the eagle actually catching the fish. But it was much too blurry.)

Uh oh, trouble is swopping in, hoping to steal the prize.

Well, at least the fish is happy with the outcome.

The eagle who caught the fish certainly isn't!

Larger versions of my Conowingo Eagle images can be found here.
Gone Fishing

I need a bigger faster lens.

I went with my friend Laura to Conowingo Dam in northern Maryland. (You can read about it here.) The reason the eagles like the place is the good fishing (humans like the fishing there too).

As you can see, I got a number of images of eagles with fish. But upon further study you'll notice two things about these images. The eagles are small, even though I cropped the images. And not one is of an eagle actually catching a fish.

Like I said, I need a bigger faster lens. You think Santa reads my blog?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Hey, What's that up in the Tree?

A raccoon, napping in the winter sun, annoyed at our commotion down below.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A Visitor From The North

This is an Ivory Gull. Usually they spend their time soaring over the Arctic ice.

This one, sporting the distinctive black spots of its juvenile plumage, decided that the warmer climes of Cape May, New Jersey were more to it's liking. (The adults are all white.)

"You looking at me?" Yes, yes I was. And so have a lot of other birders. You see, having an Ivory Gull anywhere in NJ is a rather rare event. The last one to visit did so in 1986. And this is only the fifth visit on record.

Now as you might imagine, not many people go birding in the Arctic. So it in nice when the birds visit us instead. And this was no doubt the easiest rare bird I've seen. I drove down to the marina where it is staying, got out of my car, and my friend Pat said, "Hi Steve, the gull is over there."

And then it flew in close, to feast on a fish carcass (seen in the second image above). And it paid no mind to the twenty or so photographers snapping away. And as one of them noted, it isn't often that you can walk around a bird to get the best light. But that's exactly what we did.

Very cool.