Lake George

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The village of Lake George above Albany, NY was the last stop on my way home from Acadia. In the morning I went to the banks of Lake George to photograph a sunrise which proved to be as stubborn about rising as the one in Acadia.

Lake George sunrise, 30 seconds exposure.

Lake George sunrise, 0.4 second exposure.

While waiting for the sun, I took a few shots of the nearby scenery.

Lake George sightseeing boats moored for the night.

Lake George sightseeing boats moored for the night.

There was a wooden sculpture created in 2017 by Paul Stark, a chainsaw carver. It depicts Major Robert Rogers leading a band of Native Americans during the 1754-1763 war between British and French forces. One of the areas where Rogers operated was Lake George.

Robert Rogers and Native Americans on Lake George.

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Acadia National Park – Local Life

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Under the rain, I drove to the Schoodic Peninsula which is a separate part of Acadia National Park near Winter Harbor. It does not have as many visitors as Mount Desert Island where Bar Harbor is located, and on a rainy day there were only two cars, mine included, on the road. The Schoodic part of the park was practically closed for the season, and the rain and wind sent me taking pictures of the local life.

Coastline on Schoodic Peninsula on a rainy day.

House on Schoodic Peninsula.

Church near Winter Harbor on Schoodic Peninsula.

Beside tourism, the people living around Acadia National Park depend on the lobster industry as a major source of income. Lobster traps and boats can be seen at almost every harbor.

Lobster traps, also called lobster pots.

Lobster boats at Prospect Harbor.

Lobster floating marker buoys decorating a shop near Bass Harbor.

A Maine political statement near Bass Harbor.

Farm near Bass Harbor.

Acadia National Park – Bar Harbor and Cruise Ships

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During the time I spent at Acadia, the main road into Bar Harbor, ME was undergoing repair and repaving. It became a temporary one-way street, with a major detour through the park when one wanted to go the other way. Traffic was severely congested, and parking a nightmare. I only went into town once and that was enough.

Bar Harbor is well known as the place where the rich and famous live or spend their summer. In the fall of 1947 a giant fire was fanned by wind and lasted more than a month. It completely burned many cottages, hotels, and over 10,000 acres (4,000 ha) of Acadia National Park. Regrowth of the forests occurred naturally, and it is said that the park looks better now because of the fire.

Here’s a view of a part of Bar Harbor from Park Loop Road above it.

View of Bar Harbor from Park Loop Road.

In this next shot, you can see three cruise ships anchored along Bar Harbor water front.

View of Bar Harbor from Park Loop Road with cruise ships anchored in the distance.

Cruise ship at Bar Harbor.

Cruise ship at Bar Harbor.

Cruise ship at Bar Harbor.

There is currently no pier or terminal for the cruise ships, and small boats are used to ferry their passengers to Bar Harbor and back.

The town expects 230,000 cruise ship passengers in 2018, a 257 per cent increase from 2003. In the fall, one big cruise ship alone can disgorge as many as 6,000 passengers into Bar Harbor, which had a total population of 5,434 in 2017. Naturally, the natives are grumbling! Although the tourist season has been extended and benefits business as a result, issues about congestion, pollution, and quality of life have been raised. A recent proposal to build a terminal for cruise ships has met with local opposition and it may never be built.

Acadia National Park – Jordan Pond and Bubble Rock

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For a couple of hours that day, it didn’t rain after that beautiful sunrise captured earlier. I went for a short hike to South Bubble mountain, one of the two small mountains that are visible from Jordan Pond.

The Bubbles as seen from the South end of Jordan Pond, near the entrance.

The Bubbles from Jordan Pond.

The hike to Bubble Rock on top of South Bubble was short and not too strenuous, even when the ground was not completely dry.

Trees and a boulder seen on the way up to South Bubble mountain.

At the top was a big boulder perched on the mountain rocks, looking like it was ready to tumble down to the road or the gorgeous valley below. Bubble Rock was moved there a long time ago by a glacier that carved out what is now Acadia National Park.

Bubble Rock.

Bubble Rock.

Bubble Rock and visitor.

And here’s the million-dollar view from Bubble Rock.

View from Bubble Rock looking toward Jordan Pond.

Acadia National Park – Bass Harbor Light Station

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After the no-show sunrise on Cadillac Mountain, I drove to Bass Harbor where one of the most photographed lighthouses is located. The Bass Light Station, as it is officially named, looked small up close, standing only 32 ft tall, or less than 10 meters. It is currently the residence of a member of the Coast Guard, so you cannot go inside it.

Bass Harbor Light Station.

It is a functioning lighthouse with an occulting red light which is on for 4 seconds then off for 4 seconds, day and night. It used to belong to the Coast Guard but in November 2017, Acadia National Park announced that it will take ownership. It is working on renovation plans to make it more accessible and “revenue producing”!

To shoot the iconic photos that you often see of the lighthouse, you need to wait for low tide and then climb down some stairs to jagged and slippery rocks on the beach. It was not a pleasant experience but still many visitors, including young children, did it. Following are some photos that I took while sitting or leaning on the rocks. Please let me know which one you like best.

1. Bass Harbor Light Station.

2. Bass Harbor Light Station.

3. Bass Harbor Light Station.

4. Bass Harbor Light Station.

Here are two views of the beach.

Beach at Bass Harbor Light Station, looking South.

Beach at Bass Harbor Light Station, looking North.

Acadia National Park – Sunrise

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The sunny and bright skies along Kancamagus Highway gave way to cloudy and rainy weather for every day that I spent in Acadia National Park. As a result, heavy clouds and rain will affect most of the photos I will be posting about Acadia.

On the morning after arrival, I got up early and drove to the summit of Cadillac Mountain, 1530 feet (466 meters), the tallest point in Acadia, where one can see the sun rise the earliest in the Eastern United States. It was not raining, but the sky was completely covered with clouds.

On top of Cadillac Mountain to see the sun rise.

Other sun watchers also arrived, on foot or by car, then huddled together for warmth as they waited for the sun.

Sun watchers on Cadillac Mountain, Acadia National Park.

People kept checking their watches or cell phones, but the scheduled time came and went, and the sun kept itself well hidden. There was gradually more light, but without the brilliance and warm colors of a rising sun.

At the top of Cadillac Mountain with no sunrise.

Disappointed people started to leave, either hiking down or driving their car to the town of Bar Harbor. The only indication of the presence of the sun behind those clouds was a sliver of pale blue horizon.

Sun watchers leaving Cadillac Mountain.

The following day, I also got up early to go do some hiking. There was a superb sunrise as I drove by Hulls Cove, just before the entrance to Acadia. Here was the sunrise I wanted, and it was at sea level. I will always wonder what it would have been like if I had photographed it on top of Cadillac Mountain.

Sunrise at Hulls Cove, Acadia National Park. On the right of the picture was a cruise ship anchored for the night.

Sunrise at Hulls Cove, Acadia National Park, a minute after the above shot.

Kancamagus Highway

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Fall foliage in the New England states is world renowned for its beautiful colors, and the best place to see them is the Kancamagus Highway (aka the Kanc). That’s 34.5 miles (55 km) of Route 112 in the White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire, between the towns of Lincoln and Conway. It is named after Kancamagus (“The Fearless One”), a Native American chief who ruled the area in the 17th century.

Last week, on my way to Acadia National Park, I made a detour there, and now wish I had planned for more time instead of driving so quickly through.

Kancamagus Highway.

Kancamagus Highway.

New England fall colors have the benefit of the vibrant reds of maple trees, in addition to yellows and oranges.

Fall foliage along Kancamagus Highway.

View from Hancock Trailhead on Kancamagus Highway.

View from Hancock Trailhead on Kancamagus Highway.

View from Hancock Trailhead.

There are many hiking trails throughout the area, and 6 campgrounds with well maintained facilities for campers. I stopped at one of the campgrounds for a quick look.

Camping along Kancamagus Highway.

 

Rocky creek next to Kancamagus Highway.

There are at least four waterfalls along Kancamagus Highway, but I had to skip them for lack of time.

View from Kancamagus Pass.

You can’t find hotels or other commercial facilities along the highway, but for those who do not want to rough it out, both Lincoln and Conway have plenty of hotels, resorts, motels, and many places that cater to tourists.

View of street in Lincoln, NH.

A hotel or resort in Lincoln, NH.

Chrysalis – Conclusion

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This is what the Monarch chrysalis looked like on 20-Sep-2018.

Monarch Chrysalis on 20-Sep-2018.

Three days ago, the butterfly was visible inside.

Monarch Chrysalis on 04-Oct-2018.

Yesterday, I saw no change and did not take a picture. Today I was out of town for most of the day. When I came back in late afternoon, the chrysalis was empty! I removed the empty and dry cover from the underside of our house siding, laid it on a table and took the following pictures.

Cover of empty chrysalis.

Cover of empty chrysalis.

Cover of empty chrysalis.

So, in this case, it took a total of 17 days before the Monarch butterfly emerged, and not 10 to 14 days as written on several Web sites about Monarch butterflies. I am disappointed to have missed the emergence of the butterfly, but I am happy that it did finally emerge, and may be on its Southern migration soon, if not already.

Here’s a photo of a Monarch butterfly, but it’s not the one from the above chrysalis.

Monarch butterfly.

Late Hibiscus

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In previous years, by now we would have frost, which would have killed all the summer flowers. This year is an exception, as yesterday we had temperatures in the 80 °F (27 °C). That is why, despite being ravaged by deer, our hibiscus flowers keep sending up beautiful and eye-catching blooms.

Hibiscus bud.

Older Hibiscus bud.

Partially open Hibiscus.

Hibiscus, the day after full bloom.

Hibiscus in full bloom.

Hibiscus, from the side.

Hibiscus, from the back.

Updates etc.

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Following is today’s shot of the Monarch chrysalis. There is the shape of a butterfly in there, but it has not come out yet. It has been 15 days, past the 10-14 days from formation to emergence.

Monarch Chrysalis.

The milkweed plants have gone to seed. Here’s a shot of one of the seedpods.

Seedpod of Asclepias Incarnata.

There are still some flowers, and the garden still has some spots of colors.

Cleome.

Hibiscus.

Hibiscus.

Boat-tailed Grackle

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Yesterday a band of Boat-tailed Grackle congregated on a section of Wildlife Drive at Edwin B Forsythe NWR. I had seen this bird before, but never in such numbers, or so brazen, posing conspicuously for photographers.

Boat-tailed Grackles. Pointing their bill upward is typical of this type of bird.

Boat-tailed Grackle calling.

Boat-tailed Grackle singing.

Boat-tailed Grackles.

Boat-tailed Grackle foraging. These birds are omnivorous and will steal food from humans.

Their bright yellow eyes make the Boat-tailed Grackle appear fierce. By the way all these photos show male Boat-tailed Grackle and I did not see any female around. The female birds would have been brown. Usually, one male bird would have a cluster of female birds as his harem.

Boat-tailed Grackle.

Boat-tailed Grackle.

Summer into Fall Flowers

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It has been warm lately, even though it is now fall according to the calendar. Cosmos flowers are still doing very well, especially some white ones.

White Cosmos.

White Cosmos.

Green Sweat Bee on Cosmos flower.

Even the Clematis plants were doing well with the help of abundant rain this past week.

Clematis.

Clematis.

I checked up on the Monarch butterfly chrysalis. It has turned to a darker green. In two or three more days a butterfly will emerge?

Monarch chrysalis.

2018 Year of the Bird

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2018 is the Year of the Bird, as declared by the National Audubon Society, National Geographic, BirdLife International, and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. I didn’t know about that until now, but here are seven photos I took recently of birds around New Jersey.

Two Barn Swallows in Newton, NJ.

Mourning Dove on beach at Barnegat Light.

Great Egret at Edwin B Forsythe NWR.

Sanderling at Barnegat Light.

Young Bald Eagle at Edwin B Forsythe NWR.

Long-billed Dowitcher at Edwin B Forsythe NWR.

Juvenile Ring-billed Gull at Barnegat Light.

Chrysalis

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Three weeks ago, on August 30th, I posted pictures of about a dozen Monarch caterpillars munching on milkweed leaves, like the ones shown below.

Monarch caterpillars on milkweed.

A few days later, they all disappeared. I suspected the birds ate them because I saw some birds diving toward the milkweed and then flying away. I thought that was the end of that Monarch generation, and promised myself to hang some kind of netting next year to keep the birds from consuming the caterpillars.

This morning, I saw one Monarch caterpillar attached to our house siding, about four feet from the milkweed plants. It was busy weaving and by noontime had transformed itself into a Chrysalis. To prevent the birds from eating it, I hung a piece of transparent plastic around it, with openings on three sides.

Monarch Chrysalis.

In 10 days, a Monarch butterfly will emerge from the above Chrysalis. I will try to be there to capture that moment.

Niagara Falls

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After driving through the Finger Lakes region, we ended up in the early evening at Niagara Falls, NY. We stayed on the American side even though the best views of the falls are supposed to be from the Canadian side.

American Falls at Niagara Falls, NY. Rainbow Bridge in the background leads into Canada.

American Falls at Niagara Falls, NY.

At night the falls are illuminated in different colors, and after 10 PM there are fireworks, which we decided to skip after a long day of driving and sightseeing.

Illuminated American Falls at Niagara Falls, NY.

Illuminated American Falls at Niagara Falls, NY.

Illuminated American Falls at Niagara Falls, NY.

Horseshoe Falls which belong to Canada were also illuminated, but the wind kept blowing its mist toward us. When there is a strong wind, mist obscures the falls from viewing even during the day.

Illuminated Horseshoe Falls at Niagara Falls, Canada.

Night view of Canada from the American side of the falls. The red beam of colored light on the left was used to illuminate Horseshoe Falls.

Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge

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Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge is at the Northern end of Cayuga Lake, one of the 11 finger lakes in New York state. It is less than a quarter of the size of Edwin B Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge in New Jersey, but has much of the same wildlife, with the addition of Sandhill Cranes and Black Terns that are not usually seen in New Jersey.

We drove on Wildlife Drive through Montezuma NWR, stopping occasionally to take pictures.

Marsh Mallows were vibrant and plentiful at Montezuma NWR.

Marsh Mallows at Montezuma NWR.

A young Bald Eagle surprised me by swooping overhead and diving toward the marshes. It was too fast and moved around too much for me to get good pictures, but the following will give you an idea of the drama evolving in the sky.

Bald Eagle at Montezuma NWR.

Bald Eagle at Montezuma NWR.

Bald Eagle at Montezuma NWR.

Bald Eagle at Montezuma NWR.

Bald Eagle at Montezuma NWR.

However, the young Bald Eagle failed to catch any fish.

There were several Great Blue Herons and Great Egrets that landed near Wildlife Drive then stood or walked in the water.

Great Blue Heron at Montezuma NWR.

Great Blue Heron and Great Egret at Montezuma NWR.

Great Egret preening at Montezuma NWR.

Great Egret at Montezuma NWR.

Great Egret at Montezuma NWR.

There were many Ring-billed Gulls and Canada Geese at Montezuma NWR. One gull was hovering over the marshes and crisscrossing the sky, asking to be photographed.

Ring-billed Gull at Montezuma NWR.

Finger Lakes

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This past weekend, we drove through the Finger Lakes region of Central New York. The region is named after 11 lakes created by glaciers some two million years ago. Today it is a gem of the state of New York, perhaps not as well known as New York City, and possibly disdained by some for its agricultural backwardness.

The population of New York State is 19 million, half of whom reside in New York City. Politicians and environmentalists work hand in hand to keep natural gas fracking out of New York, conveniently forgetting that trash and waste from New York City find their way into landfills throughout the Finger Lakes region, marring its beauty and presenting as much danger to the environment as fracking.

We went to Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge at the North end of Cayuga Lake. Here are some photos I took along the way. Photos for Montezuma NWR will follow in a subsequent post.

Corn fields in Finger Lakes region.

Farm house in Finger Lakes region.

Grain silos at a dairy farm in Finger Lakes region.

Immature Forster’s Tern

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Two weeks ago I saw immature Forster’s Terns at the refuge. They were as active as their parents, and a little noisier. While the parents look well traveled and perhaps a little worn out, the younger ones still have some baby fat and show a lot of spunkiness.

Immature Forster’s Tern.

Immature Forster’s Tern.

Immature Forster’s Tern.

True to their species, they are great fliers and hunters.

Immature Forster’s Tern.

Even when they don’t catch anything.

Immature Forster’s Tern coming out of a dive.

The Owner

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Several female Ruby-throated Hummingbirds come to our feeder each year. I call one of them the Owner because she is very territorial and, whenever she sees another female hummingbird, she dives down from her perch somewhere among the oak branches and chases the intruder away.

Yesterday (yes, they were still around despite what I wrote in a previous post) the hummingbirds kept coming to the feeder throughout the day, probably to fuel up before migrating South. The Owner came to the feeder and stayed there a rather long time.

Female Ruby-throated Hummingbird, aka the Owner.

She went around and sampled each feeding hole.

The Owner gorging herself on nectar.

Then she stayed at the feeder and had a little snooze.

The Owner half asleep.

This went on for several minutes. Finally a rival Ruby-throated Hummingbird began to fly around the feeder.

The Owner at the sight of a rival.

The Owner getting ready to pounce on rival.

The Owner preparing for aerial combat.

The Owner at the top of the feeder hanger facing her rival.

The Owner after rival fled.

The Owner: “You got all that Mr. Photographer?”

The Owner as another rival buzzed by.

The Owner in alert position.

After I stopped taking pictures, she was still at her post for several more minutes before finally flying away.

Some Late Summer Flowers

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I walked around Colonial Lake near home yesterday and took pictures of the following flowers. I am guessing the names of the first two, so please feel free to correct me if you happen to recognize them with their proper names.

Arrowhead flowers.

Bidens Trichosperma or Tickseed Sunflower.

Hibiscus dried seed pods.

Last Hummingbird of the Year

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A female Ruby-throated Hummingbird was savoring nectar at the feeder.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird, looking right.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird, looking left.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird, looking right again.

She saw the wasp on the right side of the feeder.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird. Yikes!!!

Ruby-throated Hummingbird and wasp.

She has not been back since then.

Snowy Egrets

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Some up close shots of egrets that were just posing several days ago at the refuge, without any fear of humans.

Snow Egret.

A younger version of the above Snowy Egret.

Juvenile Snowy Egret.

Juvenile Snowy Egret pursuing parent: “Where’s my food?”

Finally a shot of a water lily flower taken on the way out of the refuge.

Water Lily.

European Starlings

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Everyone has probably seen flocks of European Starlings, sometimes numbering in the thousands, flying as swarms over open fields. They are capable of incredible communications among themselves that allow the whole swarm to instantly change direction or reverse course as if they were all just one bird. Here’s part of such a swarm that I saw last week at the refuge.

Part of a swarm of European Starlings.

Following are some shots of a juvenile bird that landed on the side of the road very close to my car. There were also Red-winged Blackbirds mixed in with the Starlings.

Juvenile European Starling.

Juvenile European Starling.

Juvenile European Starling.

For comparison, here’s a photo of an adult bird taken this past winter during a snowstorm.

European Starling.

Monarch Catepillars

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Monarch butterflies are still visiting the milkweed plants every day. This morning I went out to look at the plants and was surprised to see caterpillars on them.

Monarch butterfly from four weeks ago.

Monarch caterpillars as of today.

Monarch caterpillars as of today.

Monarch caterpillar as of today.

I hope these caterpillars will transform into pupa (chrysalis) and after that become the next generation of Monarch butterflies.

Black Skimmers Catching Fish

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For the past five years I have watched and photographed Black Skimmers draw straight lines with their bills on the marsh water at Edwin B Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge, always wondering if they ever catch anything. They must, since they still exist and are actually thriving. Here’s a shot of a bunch of them yesterday.

Black Skimmers.

Following is a closer look from a week ago.

Black Skimmers.

They skim the water anywhere there may be fish, even right next to other birds.

Black Skimmer cruising by a Snowy Egret.

The following series of shots shows one that finally got a fish on camera!

Black Skimmer.

Black Skimmer.

Black Skimmer.

Black Skimmer: “Caught one!”

Ruddy Turnstone Scrape

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Ruddy Turnstones are fairly common on the New Jersey shore. I have been seeing them since this Spring. Wearing their breeding colors, they are easy to spot on the jetty at Barnegat Lighthouse State Park.

Ruddy Turnstones. The one on the left was apparently resting.

Ruddy Turnstone.

Ruddy Turnstone.

In flight they look stunning.

Ruddy Turnstones in flight.

Last week at the Edwin B Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge, many birds covered a small island in the marshes. Scanning the island through my camera’s viewfinder, at one point I saw sand being thrown upward by tiny feet. After a few minutes, it turned out that it was a Ruddy Turnstone making a perfectly round scrape as a nest site.

Scrape made by Ruddy Turnstone.

Black-crowned Night-Heron

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On a drive around Edwin B Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge, I saw a sleepy Black-crowned Night-Heron right by the side of the road. It watched me warily but did not fly away immediately.

Black-crowned Night-Heron.

Another shot before it flew away.

Black-crowned Night-Heron.

This page header photo is from an image taken in July of this year.

Sunflower Field 2018

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There is a field that I have been going to for the past several years to take pictures of sunflowers. This year, I went early to catch the morning light. The farm planted corn on three sides of the field, shrinking the number of acreage with sunflowers significantly. It does not compare with the miles after miles of sunflower fields that I drove by in South Dakota, but this is perhaps the best we can get in this small state.

Sunflower field.

Sunflowers.

Sunflower.

Sunflower: “Tada…”

Sunflower.

Sunflowers.

Hibiscus (Rose Mallow)

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This year I planted from seeds several Hibiscus or Rose Mallow varieties. They came up easily and grew fine until one night the deer ate their tops off. I sprayed deer repellent on the remaining parts of the plants, stopping the nasty deer grazing. The plants are now doing well, sending gorgeous saucer size blooms one after the other.

Red Hibiscus.

White Hibiscus.

Pink and white Hibiscus.

Hibiscus pistil.

Red Hibiscus.

Finally, here are some of them together.

Hibiscus.

Hummingbirds, Male and Female

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I have one hummingbird feeder in the backyard. A male Ruby-throated Hummingbird has been almost the sole visitor for several weeks. When he appears, the female hummingbirds keep away. He makes sure of that, first looking right.

Male Ruby-throated Hummingbird.

Then checking out the photographer.

Male Ruby-throated Hummingbird checking out photographer.

Then looking left.

Male Ruby-throated Hummingbird.

When feeding he flies up and down, constantly watching. I would think he could be wasting a lot of energy that way, but he doesn’t mind.

Male Ruby-throated Hummingbird.

Last week I took the feeder apart for cleaning and refill. The male bird showed up as I was doing that, and promptly flew away, angry perhaps. He has not been back since.

Two female Ruby-throated Hummingbirds have now replaced the male. However, one of them will inevitably chase away the other when she sees her. She dives toward the intruder so quickly that I haven’t been able to take a picture of that yet.

Female Ruby-throated Hummingbird landing.

The female bird is very dainty, almost like a fashion model.

Female Ruby-throated Hummingbird.

Female Ruby-throated Hummingbird: “Waiter, there is a fly in my nectar!”

In flight, she looks just as nice as the male, even without those rubies on her throat.

Female Ruby-throated Hummingbird.

Update: one more photo of the bird which flew away too fast, leaving only a blurry image looking like a painting.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird flying up and away.

Black-Crowned Night Heron Lunch

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Two weeks ago, while the paparazzi were clustered around a nest with new chicks, I saw a Black-Crowned Night Heron fly to the marshes at low tide. These birds, as their name implies, normally feed in the evening, but this one was going to have lunch by pulling out worms from the sand.

Black-Crowned Night Heron landing on marshes.

Black-Crowned Night Heron catching sand worm.

Black-Crowned Night Heron eating sand worm.

The heron ate at least half a dozen worms.

Black-Crowned Night Heron posing one last time before flying back to the rookery.

Twelve-spotted Skimmer Dragonfly

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Yesterday this female Twelve-spotted Skimmer dragonfly, shown in the following three shots, landed on some stones in our garden. This common dragonfly is found in Canada and all the American 48 states below it. Its male counterpart would have 10 white spots next to the brown ones.

Twelve-spotted Skimmer.

Twelve-spotted Skimmer.

Twelve-spotted Skimmer.