A few months ago, they were flowers like this one.
Then the flowers became fruit, which is ripening now.
And birds are beginning to eat the seeds.
Fall colors at the Edwin B Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge have not been as vivid this year as in the past, mainly because of sparse rain during the summer. Still I tried some landscape shots to see how they would turn out.
Phragmites, an invasive grass, did very well this year, with widespread stands of dried tall grass in many parts of the refuge.
I had to to dig out of my archives the following sunrise shot of the refuge taken four years ago in September. Things looked prettier then.
At high tide, ocean water pours into the salt marshes at the refuge, and provides a fish bonanza to the birds that hover near the sluice gates. I saw a band of Seagulls diving with abandon into the churning water and I began shooting them. Only when I came home and looked at the images on the computer did I see that some of them actually had caught small fish.
A Cormorant was equally successful, though they usually catch much bigger fish. Perhaps this one was young and still learning.
As a side effect of hurricane Philippe, we are being drenched with rain today, and I am staying home. Here are a few shots taken over the past several weeks that did not fit into any previous post.
I am guessing the following two birds are immature Yellow-crowned Night Herons. October has been warm this year, and these two had not yet migrated South.
Once the fog had completely dissipated, Forster’s Terns came out and again earned their reputation as ace flyers and divers. I had my camera set to capture them at 1/3000 sec, but even that was barely enough to freeze their motion in mid air, especially during their almost vertical dives.
Finally I was able to catch one of these birds with a fish it had just caught.
There were literally thousands of spider webs along both sides of Wildlife Drive, and the dew made them scintillate under the rising sun. Here are two: one with the classic shape; the other, seen from the side, is more unusual. I did not see any spider. Maybe they were still in their warm hideouts.
It was very foggy yesterday. On my way to Edwin B Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge I could see no more than 100 ft (30 m) ahead, and twice almost ran into deer crosssing the road! When I arrived at the refuge, the usual scenery looked very iffy in the thick fog, but I was not about to go back after a two-hour drive.
Slowly the fog lifted, and after half an hour, sunlight fell on beautiful swans and other birds swimming in the sweet water pond. The swans were probably the same I photographed last week, but they had lost their juvenile colors and were all white. They had been preening and looked much cleaner than last week.
The following photos show a Mute Swan flapping its wings after it had finished preening and taken a dip in the water.
Last week, at the Edwin B Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge, I saw for the first time an American Avocet standing among other familiar birds. In fact I did not know what it was until I got home, saw a strange bird in the photo and looked it up.
The following photo is unusually wide so that all the Cormorants in that one spot can be seen.
Finally, many smaller birds were flying around: Grackles, European Starlings, and Red-winged Blackbirds. I did not get a good shot of the Red-winged Blackbirds, although they appeared to be leading packs of small birds around the marshes.
Last week Mute Swans were preening and foraging for food at the Edwin B Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge. Again, I was able to come close to take the following photos. By the way, when you see white feathers floating on the water, they were a by-product of the swans’ preening.
The American Bittern is a medium-sized heron that is supposed to be elusive, even secretive. Yesterday was the second time I saw one, but it was not hiding among the reeds. It was standing out in the open on a wooden beam by the side of Wildlife Drive at Edwin B Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge. Maybe it was relatively early in the morning, as it allowed me to come within 20 ft (6 m) of it to take these up-close pictures. It stood still in one pose, so the dozen shots I took are almost all identical.
I took this photo in the fall of 2014 at the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge. Because of the lack of rain this past several weeks, forecasters are saying that fall colors this year will not be as colorful and bright, and will not last very long.
After several dry weeks, rain has been falling over the past few days in our area, reviving grass and pushing flowers for more blooms. The latter, despite the fact we are already in autumn, still managed to put on dazzling colors and forms.
A main event of the Long Beach Island International Kite Festival was the dropping of candy from a kite onto the sand for kids to gather. When the time came, parents, grandparents, and kids lined up in anticipation.
They could not make the kite work, so volunteers scattered the candy by hand in front of the crowd. When the signal was given the kids rushed forward.
Meanwhile, the kites kept flying high above everyone.
The Long Beach Island International Kite Festival is being held over four days this weekend in Ship Bottom, NJ. I went there today to look for colorful kites and there were quite a few. This is the sight that greeted me once I climbed over the dunes and looked down on the beach.
Kites now come in fancy shapes and sizes, unlike those I made as a kid, out of two bamboo sticks and some translucent paper glued to them.
This morning I went back to the organic farm near home to take more photos of Cosmos flowers. The weather is getting definitely cooler, and frost will soon decimate every plant, so this may be the last Cosmos for this year. Dew was still hanging on to the flowers, but that only added to their beauty.
Meanwhile, back home our Cosmos flowers had a burst of blooming, sending up about a dozen flowers.
Last week, I saw shore birds keeping their distance from the waves and coming in calmer waters behind the jetty at Barnegat Lighthouse. They were looking for food as usual, but perhaps with more urgency than on calmer days. Thus occupied, they allowed me to come close to them without flying away.
Sanderlings are well known for running in groups along the surf . This one below was running by itself, but not for very long.
There was also a group of Semipalmated Plovers basking in the sun, not doing much of anything, with some sleeping on one foot.
A dozen years ago, I dabbled in painting. First I painted on canvas using water-mixable oil paints, because I did not want to clean my brushes with chemicals.
One year I grew birdhouse gourds just for fun. Some of them were fairly big, and once they dried up I could not resist trying 3D painting on them.
Finally, a smaller one.
The gourds are now used as decoration in our house. Visitors always ask about them, puzzled by their size and shape, and their painted look.
We had two pawpaw trees with a total of 18 fruit that I told you about in a post six weeks ago. I kept checking on them every few days to make sure they remained on the trees. Ten days ago, one fruit disappeared without a trace. I sprayed the tree leaves with deer repellent, a lot of it, to the point that Jackie, the Golden Retriever, was sneezing constantly as she came close.
A few days later, three more went into oblivion, and one tree had no fruit left. The pawpaws were still green and quite firm, but, to be safe, I cut the 14 remaining fruit off and took them inside.
Our weather has been very warm, perhaps hastening the ripening process. After three days, one fruit became soft and yesterday I cut it in half.
It tasted quite good, mildly sweet and soft, almost like eating custard. Next year, I will have to find a way to discourage the deer from eating them. It will be a challenge.
After photographing waves crashing on the beach, I walked back to Barnegat Lighthouse and could not help but notice at least two Monarch butterflies flying around. One of them landed and held still long enough to have its picture taken.
Later I went to the Long Beach Island Foundation of the Arts & Sciences, located in the nearby community with the unusual name of Loveladies, NJ. It is named after Thomas Lovelady who owned an island near the area. Over time the name of the place evolved into its current version, with a very visible sign welcoming visitors to Loveladies community…
As I walked around the grounds of the foundation, I stumbled on its Monarch butterfly waystation where many Monarch butterflies were feeding on milkweed and other kinds of flowers to replenish their energy for their annual migration to as far South as Mexico. This was the most I had seen in over 40 years!
There were also other butterflies, fellow diners.
The remnants of Hurricane Jose were way out on the ocean, but the weathermen predicted big waves for New Jersey shoreline, so I went there today. The waves were indeed more violent than usual, a little bit higher, but nowhere near the big Kahuna that surfers crave for.
Near our house, there is an organic farm, Z Food Farm, that grows heirloom vegetables and flowers. I pass by it on my way to work every morning, but it was always too dark so I didn’t notice their flower beds until today. They had many flowers, and I may come back for more. Today, the heirloom Cosmos were stunning, and I took a lot of pictures of them.
There must have been at least a hundred Egrets and several Great Blue Herons at the refuge yesterday. They were very active fishing and flying from spot to spot, a golden opportunity for me to capture more BIF photos.
Here’s a sequence of a Great Blue Heron taking off.
Most of us are fascinated by photos of birds in flight (BIF), probably one of the hardest kinds of photography. Ever since I started to become serious in photography five years ago, I have occasionally attempted to shoot BIF pictures, most of the time with disappointing results. I still have a long way to go, but over the past few months I have kept the following photos to post.
The birds shown above are relatively large and easy to photograph. The hardest one, for me anyway, is the tiny but very fast Hummingbird.
In my first Osprey Drama post, I wrongly attributed selfishness to the male Osprey who denied food to what I thought was his mate. As Donna pointed out, that younger Osprey was in fact an Osprey chick, his child. Adult Ospreys, male or female, encourage their fledglings to go find their own food by intentionally denying them the food they usually bring back to the nest. Once hungry enough the young ones have to fly out and find fish on their own.
Today I went back to the nest and found the father with another fish in his talon.
He kept looking around, as if searching for the young one.
I too waited for the young one to return to the nest, for almost 20 minutes. When I left him, he was still waiting.
This post is now updated to reflect the correct information given by bayphotosbydonna in her comments below. Thank you Donna!
This morning I drove to the Edwin B Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge. Many of the Osprey nests were empty, perhaps because the young chicks have fledged and have begun migrating South with their parents. At one nest, however, the male Osprey had caught a big fish.
He ate the head of the fish while I could hear the young chick clamoring for food at their nest nearby. It called out to its father, asking him to hurry up and bring the fish back to their nest.
The link for this challenge is: https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/structure/
Last year I took the two photos shown below in Sapa, on the Northwest corner of Viet Nam. They show a water-driven mortar and pestle used to pound grains of rice to remove husks. The structure still works but maybe it is now only displayed for tourists to snap pictures.
Two months ago, the Southern Magnolias (Magnolia Grandiflora) in our yard were blooming and I posted a photo of a flower much like the one below.
The flowers have now matured, losing all their curvaceous petals, and have become fruit.
The fruit is still immature, with seeds embedded inside. When ripe it will split apart, revealing seeds that birds love to eat. I will try to photograph a ripe fruit when the time comes.
Grounds for Sculpture extends over 42 acres (17 hectares), which will take several hours for anyone to walk around and view, even partially, what is on display. In addition to sculptures by Seward Johnson, there are also works by other artists.
Grounds for Sculptures is a sculpture park in Hamilton, NJ, nor far from where I live. Its founder is Seward Johnson whose work has long been criticized by art critics as “kitsch”, with some even refusing to call him an artist. From the throngs of visitors yesterday, it seems that the public does not share those views. It was a beautiful, sunny day for photography, and here is a sample of what I saw. They are mainly sculptures based on famous paintings that you will easily recognize.
Herring Gulls are large birds, not shy of humans, and easy to photograph. I saw the ones below on the shore of Chincoteague Bay on Assateague Island in Maryland. The younger ones were flying back and forth, while two adults stood and rested not far from where I was.
Deep-Cut Gardens is a park in Middletown, NJ located on 54 acres of land, most of which used to belong to Vito Genovese, a Mafia don that may have inspired some of the stories behind the Godfather (Vito Corleone) movies. Don Genovese purchased the land in 1935 and had it built up in a mixture of Italian (Naples was his hometown) and English style. Its centerpiece was a rose garden with a Pergola, both of which are still in existence.
One of the features that Genovese insisted on was a model of the cone of Mt Vesuvius, a volcano located only 5 miles (9 km) from Naples.
The Mafia boss fled to Naples 1937, and since then the property has changed hands several times. The last owners donated it to the county, which acquired additional land to make it into today’s very peaceful and popular park, dedicated to home gardeners.
I took the following photos last Sunday as I walked around various areas of the gardens.