Some more shots of autumn scenes around Acadia National Park.
These photos were taken a month ago. By now, Acadia probably looks bleak, like the frozen ferns in the following shots.
It has been raining all day, heavy at times. A remedy for that is the following shots taken in Acadia National Park only three weeks ago. It was cloudy and rainy too, but autumn colors were still vivid, and there were some interesting boulders.
You won’t believe how many times I have missed capturing, or badly captured, birds in flight. Two days ago, at the refuge, I finally was able to get several good shots of a Great Blue Heron as it took off from the marsh.
On the same day, a Great Egret also put on a good show.
The Ospreys have migrated from the refuge to warmer places down South, leaving their nests empty. A juvenile Peregrine Falcon was preening and posing in one of the nests for about five minutes, enough time for the following shots.
It was banded on both feet, however I could not make out what the letters or numbers were. Peregrine Falcons are no longer on the endangered species list, but people are still very keen on helping it make a come back after it became almost extinct between 1950 and 1970.
Unfortunately a flock of Sanderlings distracted me for a minute, and when I looked back at the nest the Peregrine Falcon was no longer there.
An Eastern Box Turtle crossed my path as I drove out of the Edwin B Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge yesterday. It was a small but colorful turtle that moved very slowly, allowing me to circle it and take the following shots. It was the smallest adult turtle that I have ever seen, measuring about 5 in (12 cm).
Eastern Box Turtles often get run over by cars, and are now classified as vulnerable. People (children) also like to have them as pets because they are small and colorful, but they require good care in order to survive.
Colonial Lake close to home is quite small, but it has a good variety of wildlife. An old Canada Goose, named Hank by the locals, does not seem to fly any more and enjoys eating the bread crumbs and cookies that people throw to him.
Squirrels are abundant, and at this time of the year they are stocking up on acorns and other wild nuts to prepare for hibernation.
An Eastern Phoebe had something in its bill, but I couldn’t tell what it was. They usually eat small insects, and sometimes small fruit or seeds.
A Ring-billed Seagull landed with a splash and caught something in its beak.
The champ was a Great Blue Heron who caught three fishes in less than 10 minutes as I photographed him.
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.
While waiting for the sun, I took a few shots of the nearby scenery.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In this next shot, you can see three cruise ships anchored along Bar Harbor water front.
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.
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 hike to Bubble Rock on top of South Bubble was short and not too strenuous, even when the ground was not completely dry.
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.
And here’s the million-dollar view from Bubble Rock.
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.
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.
Here are two views of the beach.
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.
Other sun watchers also arrived, on foot or by car, then huddled together for warmth as they waited for the sun.
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.
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.
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.
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.
New England fall colors have the benefit of the vibrant reds of maple trees, in addition to yellows and oranges.
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.
There are at least four waterfalls along Kancamagus Highway, but I had to skip them for lack of time.
You can’t find hotels or other commercial facilities along the highway, but for those who do not want to rough it, both Lincoln and Conway have plenty of hotels, resorts, motels, and many places that cater to tourists.
This is what the Monarch chrysalis looked like on 20-Sep-2018.
Three days ago, the butterfly was visible inside.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The milkweed plants have gone to seed. Here’s a shot of one of the seedpods.
There are still some flowers, and the garden still has some spots of colors.
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.
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.
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.
Even the Clematis plants were doing well with the help of abundant rain this past week.
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?
bald eagle, barn swallow, barnegat lighthouse, Edwin B Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge, great egret, Long-billed Dowitcher, mourning dove, photography, postaday, ring-billed gull, sanderling, year of the bird
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.
Three weeks ago, on August 30th, I posted pictures of about a dozen Monarch caterpillars munching on milkweed leaves, like the ones shown below.
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.
In 10 days, a Monarch butterfly will emerge from the above Chrysalis. I will try to be there to capture that moment.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
True to their species, they are great fliers and hunters.
Even when they don’t catch anything.
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.
She went around and sampled each feeding hole.
Then she stayed at the feeder and had a little snooze.
This went on for several minutes. Finally a rival Ruby-throated Hummingbird began to fly around the feeder.
After I stopped taking pictures, she was still at her post for several more minutes before finally flying away.
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.
Some up close shots of egrets that were just posing several days ago at the refuge, without any fear of humans.
A younger version of the above Snowy Egret.
Finally a shot of a water lily flower taken on the way out of the refuge.
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.
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.
For comparison, here’s a photo of an adult bird taken this past winter during a snowstorm.
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.
I hope these caterpillars will transform into pupa (chrysalis) and after that become the next generation of Monarch butterflies.
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.
Following is a closer look from a week ago.
They skim the water anywhere there may be fish, even right next to other birds.
The following series of shots shows one that finally got a fish on camera!
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.
In flight they look stunning.
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.
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.
Another shot before it flew away.
This page header photo is from an image taken in July of this year.