Monday, August 22, 2016

Lady's Tresses

Are blooming.

It's been in the 90's (°F) in these here parts of late. So one needs a good reason to get out and explore.

I think seeing a native orchid in bloom is a good one. You?

Sunday, August 21, 2016


While the iPhone 6S+ has a nice camera, it isn't always the best tool for the job. So here are some shots of the Three-toed Woodpecker taken with a more appropriate piece of equipment.*

We saw four of them here.

At first we thought there was just one. And then someone shouted there were two! And then I spotted the nest hole.

We saw the two adults flying about, going to and from the nest. We saw the juvenile with its head in the hole. And once it flew off, one of our group saw a chick begging in the next. It is possible that there were several chicks in the nest.

Very cool. Especially when we thought we weren't going to see any at all.


*Canon 60D with a 100-400mm IS L lens.


We actually had some good moths the other night including the afore mentioned Psychedelic Jones:

Which is only eight millimeters or so long.

The Primrose Moth, which is more than twice as large.

And Peck's Pug Moth.

The current go to field guide for Moths is Peterson's Field Guide to Moths of Northeastern North America. This very good guide doesn't have entries for the first or last of these three, indicating the rarity thereof. I hope it has entries for the remaining moths I've yet to identify ...

Saturday, August 20, 2016

The Forlorn Mothman

My friend Bernie is one of the key participants in a long term moth study at Franklin Parker Preserve in the NJ Pine Barrens.

Every other week the "FPP Mothers" are out surveying the Lepidoptera fauna. Luckily for me the other survey team members were unavailable last night so Bernie asked if I wanted to join him.

While not as bad as this image makes it seem, the night did start off slowly. But it got better as the stars crossed the sky. And by the time we decided to call it a night we had seen three Psychedelic Jones Moths at this site, all at the same time, when, as Bernie noted in his Facebook post, one in a season is considered fortunate.

It was a good night.

The Photographer at Work

Our summer vacation consisted of back to back trips, first to Utah and Nevada, then to Mexico. The Utah/Nevada trip was a birding excursion, and one of the target birds was the Three-toed Woodpecker.

We wandered down trails, back and forth, hoping to see one. We did not.

But as we passed through the campgrounds on our way out, we spotted four!

Here is the 'old' trip leader A exhibiting excellent form with a camera as the bird sticks it's head out of the side of the tree (as always, click the image to bigafy it).

Here's a crop showing the birds head, top center of the image. Note the yellow forehead spot.

It's not everyday you get a good bird in iPhone camera range.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Window Colors

I travel quite a bit and generally have a camera with me.* And I always try to get a window seat. And I notice things. So I see things like the optical phenomena shown here.

The first is the view through an airplane window looking at the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of the eastern United States, as we flew home form our recent trip to Mexico. The colors are an optical effect caused by polarized light and the makeup of the window. I've seen this effect before, but usually it is much subtler and difficult to photograph.

The effect is quite pronounced here, but I was so focused on the clouds and water that I didn't notice it at first. But once I did I made sure to get a good image.

This second shot is of the window on the ferry we took from Cancun to Isla Mujeres. And I had no problem noticing this time. I waited until we docked and most of the passengers had left their seats before snapping off a couple of shots.

More info can of course be found here.


* I almost always have my iPhone 6S Plus with me, and I used it to take the rainbow image in this  prior post (a panorama). The images here were taken with my Sony RX100 II camera, which I bought specifically because it can fit in my pocket. The iPhone is longer and wider than the Sony, but the Sony is considerably thicker. The Sony is also a very good camera.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016


In 2004 I and two friends ventured up to Nova Scotia to witness the Transit of Venus.

As told here, we did not.

But we did see some weird goings on looking across the Bay of Fundy.

Here is an image of Isle Haute. This image was taken in 2013 when Patty and I visited Nova Scotia. It is a rather nondescript island some seventeen kilometers from shore.

Here are some images of the same island from my 2004 visit.

Curious goings on for sure.

The island wasn't the only landmass putting on a show. Here are some images of the cliffs to the south.

All this occurred in a little over two hours. It is easily the best mirage display I've had the good fortune to observe.  I would have stayed longer, but not everyone shares my interest in such things. And we had lobster to eat ...

For an explanation of what's going on here, a visit to Les Cowley's site is in order. Enjoy.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Desert Rainbow

While out west looking for and not finding Gray Partridge, a squall blew up and splattered the car with wind blown wet sand.

I had to fight the wind, rain and sand to get this image, one of only three before it faded, hiding on the leeward side of the car.

If you look close you can almost make out the pot of gold ...

Monday, August 15, 2016


Sunrise at Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

Taken on the morning of April 6th, 2012.

With flashes of green.

Hints of blue.

And flashes of red.

I have an app on my iPhone, The Photographer's Ephemeris, which shows me the azimuth of the sun, very helpful when shooting the sunrise. So I got up early. Used the compass on my iPhone to aim the camera. Checked my settings. And waited.

And when I saw the first bit of sun appear on the horizon I started shooting.  And kept shooting.

I stopped 533 images later.

It took me a while, but I finally got around to processing these images (only four years; I've older images I still haven't gotten to). And I combined them all into a short video showing the entire sunrise. I hope you like it.


For more on the green, blue, and red flashes see Les Cowley's discussion at his Atmospheric Optics site. For much more (and I mean "much") see Andrew T. Young's green flash site.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Peak A Boo

I noticed Chippy running up under the squirrel baffle.

I had to get the camera, change lenses, and mount it on the tripod to get the shot. And chippy still hadn't emerged.

I don't know what spooked him and caused him to hide, as none of the birds seemed the least perturbed.  Nor do I know what he found so interesting up under the baffle. 

But soon enough he was back on the ground hovering up the seeds scattered by the birds.