Northern Pintails are normally peaceful, relaxed as in the following photo.
Last Sunday, two of them were … more agitated shall we say, as in the following series.
In the fall, Snow Geese migrate some 3,000 miles (4,800 km) from the northernmost reaches of Canada to as far South as Mexico. In the Spring they do it in reverse, and so we get to see them twice a year, in flocks of a few hundreds to as many as hundreds of thousands of them. In the latter case, they cover the ground like snow, and the sight of them lifting up to fly is a wonder of nature.
The above photos were taken at Merrill Creek Reservoir on a bright sunny day three years ago. The following photos are more recent close ups of Snow Geese in flight. They were taken at the Edwin B Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge on an overcast day.
I put out a brick of bird feed mixed with mealworms, and right on cue, the birds came and willingly posed for Cee’s challenge.
“Why South Vietnam Fell” by Anthony James Joes, Paperback, 218 pages, Lexington Books (May 25, 2016)
I must have read hundreds of books about the Viet Nam war, especially the period from 1954 to 1975 when the war ended. The latest, “Why South Vietnam Fell” by Anthony James Joes, was a surprise. It is a well researched and cogently written book that runs counter to much of what has been written about the subject by mostly liberal, anti-war American authors over the past 50 years.
Anthony James Joes is professor emeritus at St Joseph’s University in Philadelphia where he has taught since 1969. He has been Chairman of the International Relations Program there since 1972. He is also a visiting professor at the U.S. Army War College and has given presentations at places such as the CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the RAND Corporation, the Foreign Policy Research Institute. He has written many books and articles on various topics, the Viet Nam war being one of them. According to him, three main factors contributed to the fall of South Viet Nam.
The first was the “risky wager” that President Kennedy took in 1963 to actively encourage South Vietnamese generals to overthrow President Ngo Dinh Diem, the first duly elected President of South Viet Nam. President Diem and his brother were assassinated in the coup. Disarray ensued in the civilian government and in the military, forcing President Johnson to send over increasing numbers of American troops to prevent a total collapse of South Viet Nam.
This escalation in turn gave rise to the US anti-war movement which benefited greatly when the 1968 Tet Offensive was trumpeted by American media as a communist victory. That ignored the fact that the Viet Cong suffered such severe losses that they were no longer an effective fighting force after 1968. The North Vietnamese from then on had to openly shoulder all of the fighting, dropping any pretense that it was the Viet Cong who led the fight against the southern regime.
Meanwhile the anti-war movement, actively supported by the international communist propaganda machine, succeeded in turning the American public against the war. American troops were recalled home. Aid to South Viet Nam was drastically reduced, before being completely cut off after the forced resignation of President Nixon in 1974. Without sufficient ammunition, fuel, and spare parts for its equipment, South Viet Nam could not defend all of its territory. However, disastrous redeployment maneuvers in early 1975 led to panic as civilians fled and mingled with soldiers and their own families, and thus entire divisions disintegrated. South Viet Nam fell in three months under an all-out invasion by the entire North Vietnamese military, amply supplied and equipped by the Soviet Bloc and Red China.
In laying out these themes, Professor Joes quotes numerous sources from all sides, including communist ones. Each chapter is richly footnoted, without distracting the reader from the main arguments the author was making. In spite of that, without the appendix, the book is only 171 pages long and makes for an ultimately provocative and intellectually stimulating read. Liberals will probably hate it, but in this age of “fake news” it is good to know that someone is presenting hard facts and his own informed opinion on a matter which has long divided Americans.
Cee’s photo challenge is at this link: https://ceenphotography.com/2017/03/17/cees-which-way-photo-challenge-march-17-2017/
Here’s my submission for the challenge: a photo of a beautiful wooden bridge spanning a creek in South Jersey. You can drive and park next to the bridge, then walk on it. On the other side there was only a barely visible dirt path leading into the wilderness of Glades Wildlife Refuge.
It has been below freezing for the past several days with up to a foot (30 cm) of snow to fall two days from now. I have not been outside, except to go see a performance of Verdi’s La Traviata, a live broadcast from the New York Metropolitan Opera at a local movie theater. The singing was outstanding, but the stage set was minimalist and truly disappointing.
In any case, I went back to some old photos taken about a year ago and found the following with pairs of flying birds as the common subject.
When I left the house this morning to go to the recently reopened Edwin B Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge, it was 17 °F (-8 °C), perhaps too cold for the birds to show up. Sure enough there were not many, and most of them were seagulls that live there throughout the year.
However, just as I was about to leave the refuge, I saw a Great Blue Heron catching a fish for lunch.
All of the above, and some other intervening action, mostly shaking and turning (not displayed here), took less than a minute.
Today the cold and threatening rain reminds me of scenery I saw in Washington state before getting to California (see previous post). The road there was also winding uphill, but stopping at 6,400 ft (1,920 m) even though Mt Rainier itself towered at 14,410 ft (4,320 m), literally lost in the clouds most of the time. The locals said only the lucky few would ever see the top of Mt Rainier without clouds.
Prior to reaching Mt Rainier National Park, the road went through a totally different landscape, dry and parched country dependent on center-pivot irrigation for cultivation. Along the road, sagebrush was the dominant vegetation.
You can find this photo challenge at the following link: https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/the-road-taken/
In the fall of 2015, a friend and I went to the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest in the White Mountains near Bishop, CA. There was almost no traffic, and I soon found out why.
The road we took, the only one to our destination, went from 4,100 ft to 12,000 ft (1,200 m to 3,600 m), uphill all the way, without any dip. It took us almost an hour to get through so many turns that I lost count, before finally finding a place to park on the side of the road, not far from the mountain top.
I was rewarded with some of the most spectacular vistas that I had ever seen, with bright sunshine, a cool breeze and fantastic clouds that kept swirling in a vibrant blue sky no matter where I turned.