Friday, September 30, 2011
Thursday, September 29, 2011
All birds stretch I guess, but I have only seen it a few times. They don't raise their wings like a human would raise their arms, though. They actually lower their wing, separating all the wing feathers as they do so. They always stretch the leg on the same side with the wing, so that they are left standing on one leg. Because of the need to remain balanced, they perform the whole act in slow motion.
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
When the tide recedes and exposes the shoreline, they can be found in flocks picking among the exposed pea gravel. It took me a long time to solve the mystery of what they found so attractive. For a while, I thought it was the broken bits of submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV). I thought perhaps they needed some greens in their diet. I would see them picking up the stems and appear to be eating them. Then, one day I took a closer look at the SAV. I now think they are attracted to the snails that can be found on grass.
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
It reminds me of an incident when I was a kid. My grandfather came to visit and the family spent a day at the Bronx Zoo. When we got to the giraffes exhibit, my grandfather leaned back scanning his eyes up the neck of the animal and remarked that he thought it was probably the biggest giraffe he had ever seen. Being from rural Mississippi, I suspect it was also the only giraffe he had ever seen.
By the way, this is the best picture of a Baltimore Oriole I have ever taken...
Monday, September 26, 2011
Sometimes I'll see something that has me laughing out loud. If people could see me, they would think I was crazy. After all, what would you think if you saw someone standing by himself in the middle of nowhere laughing? Yeah, crazy.
I had just reached the beach and scanned the area to my right. Down in the corner, I thought I was looking at a log in the water. It turned out to be three ducks dithering close together, with their heads underwater. Almost as soon as I saw them, a wave came in and caught one sideways and rolled it over and over right up on the shore. You can see how far the wave carried it before it deposited it.
Sunday, September 25, 2011
The Chesapeake Biological Laboratory at Solomons gathers data from the Patuxent River, sending out a crew of four people every few weeks during the warmer months to collect information on temperature, salinity, turbidity and other details about water quality. They also gather information about the fish fry being produced by at least two species: the rockfish and it's prey, menhaden. One of the sites they monitor along the river is the place where I film, so I have been able to talk to them a little bit about what they do.
In order to seine the shoreline for fish fry, someone has to take the end of the net out from shore as far as possible and bring the end around and back to the shore. The seine is roughly an hundred feet in length. On the day pictured here, Chris (the guy in the water), asked me if I had seen anything interesting lately. I told him about the huge snapping turtle I had seen the day before. Apparently unphased, he and the others set up their equipment and proceeded to seine the shoreline.
Saturday, September 24, 2011
Friday, September 23, 2011
Thursday, September 22, 2011
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
I watched a doe and her fawn cautiously navigating the shoreline one morning until they came to a dead fall. The mother started to go around it by going into the river, but thought better of it and doubled back, where she jumped the tree with ease. I thought the fawn would have trouble getting over it but, to my surprise, it also jumped the tree in a single bound. You can see where ground level is in this photo where the fawn was caught in mid-jump. If you look at the upper right, you can see the back of the doe higher up on the bank. It also explains why you need such a high fence to keep them out of a garden.
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Monday, September 19, 2011
Sunday, September 18, 2011
Saturday, September 17, 2011
Friday, September 16, 2011
Thursday, September 15, 2011
I saw this beautiful golden orb weaver recently and couldn't help but admire the spider with it's inate ability to build a web that would be the envy of any architectect who has ever built a suspension bridge. When you get over being scared of them long enough to think about what they do, you have to admire them. They have to figure out spacially where to find several anchor sites so they build the nest in a vertical, flat plane. One of the questions that arises in my mind is, How far can they see?
Look how this one has reinforced the center strand of it's web. It looks like it may have added as many as ten strands to that part of the web.
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
When they do catch a fish at that spot, however, they are faced with a dilemma because they will routinely beat the fish against something hard before they swallow it. Since there is nothing that "fits the bill" on that side of the river, they will carry their catch all the way across the river, usually to the nearest dock and dispatch the fish on a piling.
Monday, September 12, 2011
Sunday, September 11, 2011
Saturday, September 10, 2011
Friday, September 9, 2011
Thursday, September 8, 2011
Wednesday, September 7, 2011
This sideview is an opportunity to mention their amazingly long tongues. A stretchy attachment called the hyoid apparatus allows the hummer to extend it's tongue beyond the bill by about the same length as the bill. The position of the hyoid apparatus is shown in yellow in the inset.
Tuesday, September 6, 2011
Monday, September 5, 2011
We all have them. An album full of vivid and unforgettable mental images no one else has ever seen. And though we might use a thousand words to describe one of these to another, they would never do justice to the memory.
In one sense, we are the richest people that have ever lived upon the face of the earth. In another, we are all paupers alongside those who had next to nothing a hundred or two years ago. For they were much more in tune - not with itunes or the mall or a host of other activities that come between us and the world we live in - but with the simple pleasures that cannot be taken away and bring peace to the soul.
Take down your album once in a while and enjoy again the images that no one else truly can.
Sunday, September 4, 2011
I had a friend whose brother called him one day and asked him what he was doing. He told him he was watching a hummingbird sitting on a branch, to which the brother replied, "It can't be a hummingbird. Hummingbirds don't have any feet."
Saturday, September 3, 2011
Friday, September 2, 2011
To freeze a hummingbird's wing, the shutter speed should be in excess of 1/1000th of a second, which requires a good deal of light. In the shady area where our feeder is located in the fading afternoon light, the best I could manage in this image was 1/180th second - slow enough to make their wings disappear. But, if you happen to catch the wing at it's apex of movement when it is about to return in the opposite direction, you can record some semblance of the wing. You can't time this, however, if you can catch it, at least you won't have a wingless body floating in air.
Also, the better built the lens, the more pleasingly rendered an out-of-focus background will appear. This is because more leaves are used to manufacture the shutter, causing the "bokeh" (the blurred circles in the background) to appear rounder and more pleasing.
I've said more than I meant to and I'll save the species-related comments for tomorrow.