Saturday, December 31, 2005

Photo of the Year

Once again it is Photo of the Year time, and once again I win because I'm the only one allowed to enter. As judge and final arbiter, I have duly awarded the grand prize to myself, which is (once again) an all-expense paid trip to Keokuk, Iowa in the dead of winter.

That's appropriate because the 2005 POY was taken in Keokuk, Iowa in the dead of winter. It's a bald eagle roosted in a tree above the Mississippi River on a January afternoon.

Bald Eagle along the Mississippi River, 2005.
Bald Eagle along the Mississippi River

Here are the other photos I considered. Although I take most of my photos with a Canon 1D Mark II DSLR, three of these (Butterfly, KC Bee and Ireland) were taken with a Canon G6, which is a glorified point-and-shoot.

Gila Woodpecker, I-10 rest stop south of Phoenix.
Verdin, Desert Botanical Garden, Phoenix.
Blue Angels in tight formation, Rhode Island ANG.
Blue Angels
Butterfly on a lilly, Aurora, Colorado.
Bee, Kansas City.
KC Bee
Thatch-roofed cottage, Inis MeƔin, Ireland 2005.
Coyote checks out some road kill in Death Valley.
F-4 Phantom takes off prior to the Heritage Flight at Aviation Nation in Las Vegas.

Here are my POY selections for 2002-2004. The first two are retroactive since POY didn't officially (whatever that means) start until last year. Although I don't claim to be a birder you may notice a trend here.

Young red-tailed hawk Junior I (2002 edition) right outside my office window.
Junior I
Gentoo penguins greet each other, Jougla Point, Dec. 4, 2003.
Gentoo Penguins
Puffins on Machias Seal Island, Gulf of Maine, 2004.
Little Brothers

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Spaceships and Turkeys

When I was blogging about the Kansas Cosmosphere a few months ago, I noticed that with the exception of the Wright Flyer I didn't have any images in my photo galleries of the most important milestones of flight on display in Washington. I have been to the National Air and Space Museum many times, but the most complete set of images I have was taken in 1999 with a one-megapixel Kodak DC-210+ digital camera. The images from this Stone Age device don't measure up to what a modern camera can produce, which is why I didn't have them posted. But for most of these milestones I don't have anything better, and they are worth a look.

In particular, I think this one from 1999 is interesting because it shows in one image (clockwise from top) the X-1 that broke the sound barrier, the X-15 rocket plane that flew at Mach 6, the Wright Flyer, the Apollo 11 command capsule Columbia, a replica of the Viking Mars lander, and the Spirit of St. Louis. The last time I was at the museum nearly two years ago, the Wright Flyer was not in this view because it had been moved to a separate room for the celebration of the 100th anniversary of powered flight.

Milestones of Flight
Milestones of Flight

Seven 1999 images have been added to the Air and Space gallery. I have also added three images to the Backyard Habitat gallery following an encounter with a flock of wild turkeys today. For details see The Turkey Diaries.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005


Alaska black bear
Please don't shoot me!
New Jersey is staging a black bear hunt this year, only the second since 1970. It's not surprising that the tree huggers and the gun nuts line up on opposite sides of an emotional debate.

"Today, for us, is a very sad day," said the lead tree hugger.

"Bears are beautiful animals, but they've got to be controlled," said one gun nut. "The facts are the facts. They're overpopulated," said another.

The wildlife department estimates there are 1,600 to 3,200 bears in New Jersey. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates there were 8.7 million humans in New Jersey in 2004, an increase of nearly 300,000 since the 2000 census. Tell me which species is overpopulated and needs to be controlled.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Light Reading

Speaking of bald eagles, the National Research Council has released the report Water Resources Planning for the Upper Mississippi River and Illinois Water. It's a 60-page paperback with an eagle photo on the top third of the front cover.

Here is that photo, which I shot in January of this year. Unlike my Tucson photo that was actually from the Galapagos, this one really was shot on the Upper Mississippi River, just below Lock and Dam 18 in Illinois:

Eagle fishing in the Mississippi
Click for larger version

The report is a bit snooze inducing, but you can buy it or read it online at the National Academies Press web site.

Saturday, December 03, 2005