Monday, May 28, 2018

You may have seen a bit on the news about a volcano in Hawaii.

This volcano. Kilauea.

This image was taken in 2012, in calmer times, when I was on the Big Island to observe the Transit of Venus. (A different story I'll get around to telling one day ...)

We were at the visitor center one night in June, almost six years ago. The glow is from the lava in the crater reflecting off steam and clouds. Lava which is now consuming cars and roads and trees and houses.

Friend and fellow WAS member Joe Stieber has annotated the image, labeling the astronomical objects, as part of his displaying it on the club website. You can see the annotated version here.


The  stars are best seen when bigafied, which you can do by clicking on the image. It helps to see as large a version as possible, and against a black background. If you subscribe to the blog via email, you may want to go to the blog on you computer to see this image at its best.  

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Yard Critter of the Week - Six-spotted Tiger Beetle

Six-spotted Tiger Beetle.

Unmistakable metallic green, they are common this time of year in wooded habitats.

And we live in a wooded habitat.

That's Piney Place smack dab in the middle of the image.

Most times, attempts to get an image of one of these beetles results in a shot no better than the one at the top. Quite skittish, they fly at any movement of pursuit.

However, note the key phrase, "... image of one ...". It seems getting an image of two is a bit easier ...

... as they seem otherwise preoccupied.

Still, I needed to use my phone and snap away quickly, no time to go and get a 'real' camera.

Soon enough it was over. And then, cognizant of my presence, off they went.


You can find all of the Yard Critter posts listed here.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Yard Critter of the Day

Munching away in the side yard.

I still need to mow the lawn. They need to get busy.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Soda Colors

I was at my desk in my office, enjoying diet coke while on conference call. It seems that's all I do these days, call after call, when I noticed the colors in my soda bottle.

I notice things like this.

And I find them much more interesting then yet another conference call.

So I set to multi-tasking. I confirmed that I was on mute. And grabbed my camera.

And I tried various angles and got the shots you see here. The central "ring" getting smaller and more outer rings appearing.

The light form the computer monitor is polarized. And the plastic of the soda bottle is under stress, making it birefringent. And thus, colored rings.

And had something to do while someone(s) on the other end of the phone droned on and on.


As always, a fuller explanation can be found here, at Les Cowley's site.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Yard Critter of the Week - Great Crested Flycatcher

Great Crested Flycatcher.

And unlike the last few birds featured as Yard Critter of the Week, this one sticks around for the summer, breeding here, before heading south in the fall.

They've been here, at least the calling males, for a couple of weeks now. The call, a rough "weep!", earns the nickname, "weeper bird".

I noted the first of year bird on here April 29th.

These two, (a mating pair?), visited our garden this past Tuesday. And were kind enough to linger for pictures.


We've enjoyed watching them in our yard every spring since we've moved to Piney Place. Here's a couple of prior visitors.

This one is munching on what appears to be a moth in May of last year.

And his one was helping with yard work in June of 2015.


You can find all of the Yard Critter posts listed here.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Fly Catchin'

In this post I noted that there would be "... more on the way soon."

Seems that prediction has come true.*

A Golden-backed Snipe Fly. Patty spotted it as we were chasing down a flycatcher we'd seen earlier in the yard. Perhaps why this fly was hiding in the garden.

Several of the flycatchers we have in our area are very similar looking, and it helps to hear them calling; the one we were chasing was not being cooperative.

We think it was a Willow Flycatcher. Feel free to suggest otherwise.


* This was the first Yard Critter of the Week post, not quite a year ago. So perhaps I was a bit off with the "soon" part.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Yard Critter of the Week - Indigo Bunting

Indigo Bunting.

Another one day migration wonder. We've had them before in the yard, but it is always the same, just passing through on their way somewhere else. Apparently our yard is not quite the right habit, as they prefer open woods. Alas, our yard isn't quite big or open enough.

This one arrived one afternoon as I was working from home. By chance I looked out the window and spotted a very blue bird.

I sprung into action and grabbed the camera.

And was able to (obviously!) get some shots. It was still here for Patty to see as she arrived home from work. And then it was gone.


You can find all of the Yard Critter posts listed here.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Yard Critter of the Week - Veery


Patty and I were sitting on eat deck one evening, when I noticed a bird on a log. Of course, it flew before I could get my binoculars and get a good look.

Fortunately it did not fly too far, and Patty was able to relocate it, while I went to grab the camera.

This was the first time we saw a Veery in our yard. And we've not seen it, or any other, since.

A migrant, just passing through. We're glad it chose our yard to visit.


You can find all of the Yard Critter posts listed here.