Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Not my town alas, but fun to travel about nonetheless.

We also saw ...

A solitary and somewhat camera shy American Wigeon.

Plenty of mallards. Common, but I love the green heads.

In addition to ducks, like this sleeping mallard, there were cormorants and gulls ...

... lots of coot ...

... and night herons, there are at least twelve in this picture. 
(And one mallard.)
((Click to bigafy and try to find them all!))

We had a single egret.

And northern shovelers at several spots.


And many distant gannets.
(Where's that big lens when I need it?)

There were other birds, like the common teal which flew just as I was bringing the camera up. And the sand doves. And the invisible razor bills that didn't check in at the bird observatory (how rude!).

I'll get 'em next time ...

Monday, November 29, 2010

Sunset, Behind Me

In the mid nineties my brother and I spent two weeks traveling form Kansas City, Missouri to San Mateo, California, visiting a number of parks along the way. One thing he taught me while hiking was to turn around and enjoy the view of where we'd been.

These images were taken in the direction opposite the sunset. They show a particularly vivid Belt of Venus (or more prosaically, the Anti-Twilight Arch). The bluish-gray band at the horizon is the Earth's shadow. The pink, the last rays of the sun.

So turn around every once and awhile. And enjoy the view.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

... Last

The best saved for.

Alas, I had to send that lens back yesterday.

Still haven't gotten your eagle fix? I continue to add images to my SmugMug gallery. I've still got more to go through from the shoot (action sequences and outtakes), but these are some of the best. Hope you like them.

Friday, November 26, 2010

"A Kingbird with a Long Tail"

That's how the young birder, who had the bird in his scope as I walked up, had described the bird to his mom. They were in Connecticut from Ohio for Thanksgiving.

I was in Connecticut to see a neotropical visitor, a Fork-tailed Flycatcher.

Nobody was sure why the bird was there, nor how long it would stay. The usual haunts for this species is southern Mexico down to Argentina.

As I walked over form my car, having just arrived, I thought, "cool, another walk up rarity" (I'd been pretty lucky this year). Of course, the bird then flew.

(I won't keep you in suspense, it came back.)

I went back to my car and got my camera, along with the big rental lens, and headed over to where the other  cameras with big lenses were set up.

One of the reasons I had decided to make the round trip to Connecticut, (on the day before Thanksgiving!), was because I still had the lens and was looking for photo ops.

The bird had flown to the far side of the meadow at Cove Island Wildlife Sanctuary, and a dozen or so birders were scanning for it. It did pop up once, briefly, on a far tree, but a fly-by Coopers Hawk sent it into hiding. While we waited we watched a small flock of Monk Parakeets cavorting in the far tree tops. To far for pictures even with the big lens. But fun to watch.

While we were watching the Parakeets the Flycatcher flew up right next to us, less then twenty feet away. And I'd get my photo op.

It then spent the next thirty or so minutes dive bombing grasshoppers along the path edges right in front of us. Plenty of photo ops.

Enjoying a grasshopper.

There were actually a pair of Coopers working the area. And the Flycatcher kept an eye out for them. And after giving us great looks it flew off into a tangle of trees. Spooked by a hawk? Hunger satiated? No matter, and after waiting a bit I decided to take off as well. I would be a long ride back to New Jersey, fighting traffic on the worst travel day of the year.

And I was glad I did.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Morning Visitors

A couple of Sundays ago I was debating whether to rollover and go back to sleep or get up and out of bed when I heard them. Turkeys, outside my bedroom window. I jumped up, threw on some clothes, and grabbed my camera.

Wild turkeys disappeared from New Jersey in the 1800’s. Hunting and habit loss were the main reasons. Attempts to reintroduce the species in the early twentieth century, using domestic birds, were not successful. 

In 1977 twenty-two wild birds, seven male and fifteen female, were released in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. Between 1979 and 2003, two thousand birds were trapped and released within the state, and now wild turkeys can be found in 20 of the 21 counties in New Jersey. Including Burlington.

And more specifically, in Edgewater Park. In my front yard.

I don’t remember ever seeing a turkey as a kid, although I spent quite a bit of time in the woods (I do remember seeing and hearing plenty of quail; sadly, their calls echo in my woods no longer). My life turkey was on November 22, 2001. At was at my cousin’s for Thanksgiving dinner (outside Freehold, NJ) and there were a dozen or so roosting in a tree in her backyard. 

Yeah, I got my life turkey on Thanksgiving.

For the next couple of years I saw turkeys occasionally, usually a few birds while wandering the less populated areas of south Jersey. Maybe a half dozen times a year.

Now it is an unusual week where I do not see a turkey, either in town, driving to or from work, or while out in the field.

Now it may be an artifact of my spending most of my time here, but Edgewater Park seems a particularly popular location. In addition to the seventeen birds wandering about the grounds of my condominium, there was another flock of twenty-two birds not more than a quarter-mile away, feeding in and around a retention pond.

Seems that reintroduction of twenty-two wild birds was a success.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Circles in the Sky

As I was driving back form Connecticut (see future post) and stuck in brutal Thanksgiving Traffic I was treated to a wonderful halo display. Fortunately I was able to pull into a parking lot and get some pictures. Alas it wasn't until the display had faded a bit.

I was still able to get a nice shot of a 22˚ halo with a matching pair of sundogs (as always, click the image for bigification).

The first image has a hint of the upper tangent arc, while it is a bit more apparent in this image. The sundogs on the other hand have faded a bit.

Since I was stopped I decided to use the facilities in the fast food place located conveniently nearby. When I came out I noticed that what I thought was the upper tangent arc had brightened considerably.  Although it had dimmed by the time I retrieved my camera for this shot. But the upside down rainbow center top of this image is not the upper tangent arc. It is instead a circumzenithal arc. And it is on the 46˚ halo, a somewhat rarer beast then the 22˚ version.

This isn't a very good image, and even when viewing the full sized version (you did remember to click the image) the outer halo and arc are subtle at best (it is most obvious on the left). I didn't realize that I'd mistaken the 22˚ for 46˚ halo until I looked at the images on my computer at home.

(The key lesson here is not to give up on the display to soon, as the clouds and accompanying circles, can change rapidly. I'll be ready next time (yeah, sure).)
Fly Fishing

Not a good day to be a fish.

(More shots in this sequence, and others, can be found here.)