Saturday, May 31, 2014

From the Ground

While I do get to travel to far away places, as mentioned in the last post, like most people the majority of my travel is more mundane, the daily commute to and from work. With plenty of time spent sitting in traffic.

But sometimes ...

... Ma Nature puts on a show.

While hiking in Moab many years ago, my brother taught me to look not just ahead, but also behind. The views can be spectacular in either direction. And on this drive, the view was definitely better behind me. My iPhone photo (an ancient iPhone 4) doesn't do the rainbow justice.

So look ahead, behind, up, down, left, right. It's a big world but there is stuff to see everywhere, even on the drive home form work.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

From the Air

I'm fortunate in that I get to travel on a fairly regular basis for both work and pleasure. And as is my custom I look for a window seat, preferably away form the wings. And so it was on our trip back from Costa Rica. And I managed to snap a few pictures ...

Including these:

My first ever good shots of a glory. I had seen glories a couple times before, but I either had no camera handy or only my cellphone. This time I was prepared and rewarded.

At the same time there was a rainbow a bit further back over the engine (I wasn't quite far enough away from the wing for my liking, but at least I wasn't completely blocked).

I also saw some wildfires, like this one in Florida.

Curiously for an astronomy enthusiast, I'm a fan of clouds. I've always imagined them as fantastical landscapes that I'd love to explore.

I'm even a member of the Cloud Appreciation Society.

And that's where I turned to for an explanation of what's going on in this photo.

The effect is subtle and difficult to photograph. And something I don't believe I had ever seen (or noticed) before. If you look under the clouds you can see a foggy patch.

Gavin Pretor-Pinney, founder of the afore mentioned Cloud Appreciation Society, was kind enough to look at my image to try and figure out what I was seeing. He wrote, " I don't think this is a cloud effect.  It looks to me as if the white blurs below the clouds are reflections of the white parts of the cloud on the water's surface.  If the sun was behind you it would make sense that it could bounce off the clouds down to the sea and back to your vision."

And that's the best answer so far as to what this is. If you've any insight into what's going on please let me know in the comments.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Happy Mom's Day

Another of the guests at the Hotel Bougainvillea.

The Variegated Squirrel.

These guys hung out high in the trees. Searching about ...

... jumping around ...

... very inquisitive ...

... which is apparently hard work.

That does not look comfortable.

And then off again. Bye!


My mom hates squirrels almost as much as she dislikes computers. The squirrels because they took up residence in our attic and did some damage. And because they kept chewing up the hoses in her car (but not dad's parked right next to her's in the driveway). I'm not sure why the distain for computers though.

So mom, if you see this, you'll be happy to know these guys live thousands of miles away and are no threat to your home or car.

Happy Mother's Day!

About that Photowalk ...

I mentioned in my last post that I was one of the leaders on a photowalk. Not only did I lead, I also took some pictures.

No shadows ...

I wonder what this is ...

What a cute little nest ...

Quite the showman ...

The photowalk was part of the DVOC's Warbler Weekend (click the link and scroll down to April meetings). I, along with Patty Rehn (two time DVOC photo contest winner) and Linda Widdop (photo blogger and co-winner of the Bob Billings Big Year Challenge, along with the aforementioned Ms. Rehn) led a small and enthusiastic group of photographers around the John Heinz NWR at Tinicum.

I managed to get a few good shots in while helping the participants with their photo techniques. "Move closer!" was my tip of the day.

Still no shadows.

It is a National Wildlife Refuge located in a city, Philadelphia, which as of this writing is the fifth largest in the United States. Thus scenes such as this one.

The refuge has a variety of habitats, as can be seen from these images. It is a very cool and very conveniently located place.

In addition to the birds we were treated to a fish orgy.

The roiling water our clue that the carp were spawning.

With the males jostling for position as the female lays her eggs.

We ended the walk watching and photographing the antics of some turtles as they jockeyed for position to sun themselves.

Careful, things can be slippery when wet ...

Going, going ...

The day was a lot of fun and I do hope that they invite me to do it again.

Saturday, May 10, 2014


I was asked to be one of the co-leaders on a birding photowalk.

And you can see why ...

At least the shadow is in focus ...

You can still ID the bird ... (it's a yellow-rumped warbler) ...

It was sitting very nicely on the nest right up until I pressed the shutter release ...

So close ...

Think they'll ask me back?

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Misery Loves Company

Mt Misery that is.

So we did the Mt Joy trail as well.

The Mt Misery and Mt Joy trails are a pair of trails at Valley Forge National Historic Park, that we hiked this past Saturday morning. It was a nice day to be out, warm enough for shirt sleeves, but overcast and cool enough for comfortable hiking.

The trails start and end at Washington's headquarters. Here is a shot from the parking lot, you can see how overcast it was.

(The railway was added since Washington's stay.)

The trail goes up and down trough the park. Most of the trail is rocky, but some is dirt and a small portion is roadway.

The Mt Misery trail was well marked, note the yellow blaze on the tree in the image above. The same could not be said for the Mt Joy trail, and we took wrong turns twice.

The trails "parallel" Valley Creek, the trail for which was partially closed due to heavy rains this past week.

Despite what you might think from these images there were a good number of people on the trails. We also were accompanied by a variety of birds, including five different species of warblers, and a fox.

In one spot the trail was eroded and collapsing into the creek. But we made it by.

It was quite picturesque.

But as this was a training hike, someone has this crazy idea of hiking up and down Half Dome later this year, picture taking was held to a minimum.

This is us after Mt Misery but before Mt Joy.

It was an invigorating walk, 7.5 miles, and a nice way to spend a spring morning.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Hotel Guest

This year's spring break trip took us to Costa Rica, where we had a wonderful time. Our first stop, and the place most people fly into to, was San Jose. It was there we spent our first night.

And one of our fellow hotel guests was this handsome fellow:

A green iguana. The largest lizard in Costa Rica, at 79 inches / 200 centimeters long.

These lizards spend most of there time in the trees, usually coming to the ground only to mate and lay eggs.

The guidebook says that breeding males often show orange in the face ...

... so I don't think this guy was laying any eggs.

He, as did we, enjoyed the food available at the hotel.

We stayed at the Hotel Bougainvillea. We chose this hotel based on a friend's recommendation and because of the large gardens, which we enjoyed wandering about. It was a very nice way to begin our  Costa Rican visit.