Monday, December 31, 2012

Photo of the Year 2012

I managed to get some decent shots during 2012 but nothing really popped out. I probably would have chosen an image of a bighorn sheep grazing in the South Dakota Badlands after a dusting of October snow, but the problem is I didn't actually take that photo. In the car, I passed my camera to my friend Sue because she had a better view, so she took the photo. Anyway, of the photos I actually took, I chose this from Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge in December. According to my Sibley bird book, this is a rare sight. The description seems to match a broad-winged hawk, dark morph. According to Sibley, the dark coloring is uncommon and is only found on the western edge of the species' range, which according to their map would include northwest Missouri.

The prize, as usual, is an all-expense paid trip to Keokuk, Iowa to hunt for wintering eagles in January/February.

Click on the image for a larger view.

Butterly
Dark Morph 2012

Here are my POY selections for 2002-2011.

Young red-tailed hawk Junior I (2002 edition) right outside my office window.
Junior I 2002
Gentoo penguins greet each other, Jougla Point, Dec. 4, 2003.
Gentoo Penguins 2003
Puffins on Machias Seal Island, Gulf of Maine, 2004.
Little Brothers 2004
Bald Eagle along the Mississippi River, 2005.
Bald Eagle 2005
Blue Jay, 2006.
Blue Jay 2006
Eagle with fish, 2007.
Eagle with fish 2007
Great Horned Owls, 2008.
Great Horned Owls 2008
Custer State Park Bighorn, 2009.
Custer SP Bighorn 2009
Keokuk eagle, 2010.
Keokuk Eagle 2010
Sertoma ButterflySertoma Butterfly 2011

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Missouri Eagles

The calendar said it was time to head down to Squaw Creek NWR in northwest Missouri to see eagles and geese. This year the geese decided to take off at the end of November, but the eagles were still there, perhaps about 50 of them scattered around. I will have to get out my bird ID books as I go through the photos to see what kind of hawks I saw, but these two (of course) are bald eagles. Click on the images for larger versions.

Update: I posted three images of hawks and hunted through my Sibley book to try to identify them. Even though they weren't taken at the same time, I believe two of them are rough-legged hawks. The third appears to be a broad-winged hawk, dark morph, which Sibley says is an uncommon coloring limited to the western portion of the species' range. In fact the western portion of the range includes northwest Missouri, so I think that's what it it. Click here to see the hawks.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Trail cam cat

Last week I was able to retrieve images for the past six months from my trail camera in Wind Cave National Park. In addition to elk and a coyote I also found this puzzling series of three images which were taken 1 second part at 2:00 p.m. on May 2, 2012. It appears to be a cat, not a coyote, so I asked mountain lion expert Dr. Jon Jenks of South Dakota State University to take a look. He thinks it's probably a bobcat. Click on the image for a full-sized version (and you can decide for yourself). The second and third photos also are from the trailcam, while the fourth was taken on the trip in Badlands National Park by my friend Sue with my camera.

I changed the batteries and left the camera in the same spot, so we'll see what happens in the next six months. Click on the cat to load a larger image. Click on the bighorn to load a slide show of images from the Black Hills and Badlands.


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Mackinac

Photos from a trip to Mackinaw Island and Mackinac City, Michigan. Click on images to start slide shows.



Mackinac



Mackinac Island butterflies

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Twice in a lifetime.

Coverage of the transit of Venus across the face of the sun yesterday often referred to it as a "Once in a lifetime event." Sounds good, except for those of us paying attention back in 2004, it happened then also. It's one of those quirks that Venus transits occur in pairs separated by 8 years, then not again for more than 100 years.

This transit occurred during the last week of a 7-week work assignment in New York City. It was a mostly cloudy evening, but the clouds parted for a few seconds at a time and gave a view of the planet crossing the face of the Sun. Although I have the equipment necessary to photograph such an event, it's tucked away in my basement in South Dakota. I didn't lug a telescope and tripod along on my trip to New York.

So what I had was my point-and-shoot camera, image-stabilized binoculars, and a plastic solar filter held in place with cardboard and tape. No tripod, so I held the camera up to the binoculars eyepiece. Due to the clouds and the difficulty of locating the Sun in the viewfinder, I got only five shots. Four were blurry and this one was halfway decent. Click on the image for a larger version. That's Venus at the top, of course, but also note the sunspots in the middle.



2012


Here's a shot from the 2004 transit taken with my digital SLR, a 300mm lens, and a couple of teleconverters. I also took some film SLR shots, but the photo processor lost my film! Another reason to go all digital.


2004

Saturday, June 02, 2012

High (Price) Line

It's my last weekend in New York so I'm snapping the last few pictures from here EVER, but I can't post until next weekend because I'm without my photo editing computer. My hotel is in Chelsea these two weeks, so I headed west down 23rd today and found the High Line.

The High Line was an elevated rail that has been transformed into a city park. It's nice. But it's not $154 million nice, and it's still only two-thirds done. I can't believe they sunk that much money into such an inconsequential swatch of acreage. Where I come from, they could build a park about the same size for $2,000. But I'm from a state with plenty of bare land and only 11 people per square mile.

After 21 weeks here the past three years, I'm New Yorked-out, in case you can't tell.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Empire State

Looking up from the 86th floor observatory of the Empire State Building.


Saturday, May 12, 2012

Queens

In my visits to New York City, I haven't spent much time in Queens except at the abomination known as LaGuardia Airport. So I hopped on the 7 train today and rode it to Flushing Meadows. My first stop was Queens Botanical Garden, a modest facility compared to the New York and Brooklyn gardens. Entry was only $4, so it was priced appropriately.

It did have a few things I haven't seen elsewhere, including something called a White Fringetree. But roses have started to bloom in New York and tomorrow is Mother's Day, so I start with those. Click on the image to see additions to the New York slide show, starting with the roses.



After the garden, I continued on through Flushing Meadows - Corona Park and saw the Unisphere and some other stuff that must have been really cool during the 1964 World's Fair. Maybe not soo cool now.



Sunday, May 06, 2012

New York Butterflies

There is a butterfly exhibit until May 28 at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. I don't have my big camera and macro lens with me in New York, so the Canon S95 had to do. I was happy with the snapshots I got. Click on the image to see the butterflies, or click here for all of my New York photos from this year.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

New York again

For the third straight spring, I'm in New York City for an extended assignment. So of course that means flower pictures. I made it to Brooklyn Botanical Garden today for Sakura Matsuri, whatever that is. I never really figured it out, but there were many people, many in costume, many with a Japanese theme. Fortunately they hadn't trampled all the flowers yet. The azaleas, peonies and rhodos were in full bloom.

I'll keep adding to this gallery, flowers and otherwise, through May and perhaps part of June. New York Botanical Garden has a Monet garden exhibit opening May 19, so hopefully I will be able to make it up there for that. Click on the image to start the slide show.




Old Picture of the Week

Back in 2004 I visited the new Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center near Dulles Airport in Chantilly, Va., a branch of the National Air and Space Museum. One of the major displays was the space shuttle Enterprise, which was used for unpowered test flights in the 1970's. On April 27, 2012, I happened to be in lower Manhattan as the Enterprise flew (on the back of a 747) up the Hudson River on its way to Kennedy Airport and eventual permanent display at the Intrepid Museum in New York. The Enterprise is being replaced in Virginia by the shuttle Discovery.




The Enterprise in 2004


The Enterprise on April 27, 2012



Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Elk and Bighorns

Early April isn't the ideal time to visit the parks in the southern Black Hills. The wildlife babies aren't running around yet, and the landscape is still brownish. But I'm still working in Chicago most of the time and my annual 7-week trip to New York City is coming up soon, so I figured today was my last chance before summer to check my trail camera in Wind Cave National Park.

The camera clicked off 3,600 images in my four-month absense. It turned out that only 125 of them had anything interesting in them, and the rest were triggered by shadows and wind. There were images of elk, deer, coyotes, grouse and ravens, none as good as my last batch. The first image below is probably the best of the bunch and shows an elk on Feb. 27 with a thick winter coat. There was still plenty of battery power remaining so I moved the camera 200 yards east, which hopefully will catch the elk and other critters as they come up out of a ravine. I'm guessing my next check will be in September.

The thousands of false triggers did tell me something – it was a warm, open winter. There weren't more than a couple inches of snow at any time, none after Feb. 11. Daytime temperatures were usually above freezing, and it was 80 degrees as soon as March 10, 90 degrees on March 30!

After I took care of the trail camera, my next stop was a campground in Custer State Park where I had spotted some bighorn sheep earlier in the day. Four rams were in the campground, grazing and loafing. I snapped pictures for perhaps an hour, but after a while all four were laying down and acting drowsy. It's the wrong time of year for butting heads. Click on the images to see the respective galleries. There are only three new images in the updated trail cam gallery, but even though I was only there a few hours I got carried away and posted 34 images (mostly bighorns) in a new park gallery.


Cold Elk


Drowsy Bighorn


Saturday, January 28, 2012

Webcam

Suddenly I'm in possession of a spare laptop so I'm experimenting with it for the next few weeks as a webcam. Not the greatest image quality from a built-in camera pointing through a dirty window. I-90 is in the foreground, the L train runs diagonal from lower right. F5 to refresh. Also at this link: www.eaglephoto.net/webcam.html.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Stop here

I made my annual eagle pilgrimage to the Mississippi River last weekend. I arrived at Lock and Dam 18 near Burlington, IA at about 1 p.m. to find the viewing platform and adjacent parking lot closed due to construction. So it was down to the boat launch in the recreation area, where for the first time I can recall, they were actually launching boats. It has been so warm this winter that there were just a few ice cubes floating in the river.

There were a lot of eagles in view, but most of them stayed well out of camera range. I took some distant shots, and a few turned out like the first one shown below. There were a several eagles roosting above the road on the way out of the recreation area. When I bought my car three years ago, I got a sun roof specifically to drive down this road and get the second shot. Click on the images for larger versions and to launch the slide show.



Eagle over the Mississippi



Eagle launch



I continued on south to my other favorite Mississippi River location, the Keokuk waterfront. It was mostly cloudy, but with better light the next morning I "rushed" down to the waterfront. Unfortunately it's very difficult to rush through Keokuk because there is a stop light on just about every corner. Fifteen stop lights later, I finally arrived and got some decent shots. I headed up to Burlington mid-day and got a few more distant shots over the water, and closer but infrequent flight shots as the eagles made their way back to roosting areas.

This was the ninth straight year I've hit Keokuk/Burlington to see the eagles. On a scale of 1-10, this year was about a 6. This works best when the weather is cold enough to freeze the river and concentrate the eagles around the open water below the dams. Just looking back through previous years, I think 2008 was the best recent year.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Photo of the Year 2011

Once again, snapshot opportunities were limited in 2011 as I was afflicted with employment for the second straight year. Candidates for Photo of the Year included New York City scenics, bighorn sheep large and small, and various other critters. The winner was snapped in April at the Sertoma Butterfly House in Sioux Falls, SD. No, the image is not upside down. I think the orientation is one reason I like this shot.

I've never picked an insect before, so this is a first. This is also the first winner snapped with my 100mm macro lens, which I bought with good intentions many years ago but haven't used very much. The prize, as usual, is an all-expense paid trip to Keokuk, Iowa to hunt for wintering eagles. It's on the schedule for two weeks from today.

Click on the image for a larger view.

Butterly
Sertoma Butterfly 2011

Here are my POY selections for 2002-2010.

Young red-tailed hawk Junior I (2002 edition) right outside my office window.
Junior I 2002
Gentoo penguins greet each other, Jougla Point, Dec. 4, 2003.
Gentoo Penguins 2003
Puffins on Machias Seal Island, Gulf of Maine, 2004.
Little Brothers 2004
Bald Eagle along the Mississippi River, 2005.
Bald Eagle 2005
Blue Jay, 2006.
Blue Jay 2006
Eagle with fish, 2007.
Eagle with fish 2007
Great Horned Owls, 2008.
Great Horned Owls 2008
Custer State Park Bighorn, 2009.
Custer SP Bighorn 2009
Keokuk eagle, 2010.
Keokuk Eagle 2010