Monday Monochrome is for black and white photos. Nevertheless, I thought it will be interesting to show you a white dogwood in both monochrome and its original colors.
Tell me which version you like better.
Spring in the East would not be the same without Dogwood (Cornus Florida) flowers, and traditionally farmers would not plant their crops until they saw such flowers. This morning I went around our town and took the following pictures of pink, red, and white Dogwood flowers.
My favorite is the Pink Dogwood, which is slowly disappearing due to some disease. I could only find one tree today, although there may be others hidden elsewhere.
It has been a really cool spring this year. One day, I suddenly realized that there were no flowers on our Magnolia Soulangeana trees which in other years would be covered with thousands of pink blooms. The frost had killed all but two of the buds, so no flower show this year! Fortunately, our Jane Magnolias, which bloom later did not suffer from the same fate. Thus we still have some pink Magnolias around the house.
Some other late bloomers also came through with a good showing.
Our Asian pear trees also did very well.
Finally when the Goldfinches molt and change their winter coats for bright breeding colors, you know that Spring has arrived.
I could not miss these Oystercatchers even from a distance. They are larger than most shore birds, and are quite colorful with red eyes and bills on a black head and a brown and white body. They use their pointed bills to kill partially opened shellfish. Their call can be a long series of “wheep” easily traced back to them.
Oystercatchers are on the endangered list of birds, but I have seen them almost every year at the Edwin B Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge.
First a brown shape dove straight down from the sky, at a blazing speed. It was gone almost instantly. Then I saw a Snowy Egret floundering among a group of Cormorants swimming at the spot where the dive bombing occurred.
Then the Cormorants began fleeing the scene.
Eventually the Snowy Egret managed to fly away and went hiding among the tall grasses of the marshes. Meanwhile, a Peregrine Falcon was perched on top of a nearby pole, watching. I wonder if it was the same one who had dive bombed and scared every bird away. Peregrine Falcons are super fast and capable of reaching 200 mph (320 km/h) on a dive. They are also known to attack mid-sized birds and ducks.
One of my favorite flowers is Marsh Marigolds (Caltha Palustris), a brave perennial that lives near water and puts on a brilliant display of gold and yellow in the spring, a real feast for the eyes. Last week, they were there at the Sayen Gardens in Hamilton, NJ, next to a small pond, outshining other flowers that did not fare so well in the cold and rainy days we have experienced these past few months.
Ospreys stay at the refuge from Spring to Fall, making their nests on platforms built for them. Last week I saw a pair at one of the nests which can easily be seen from Wildlife Drive. She was eating half of a fish that he had brought to her. He observed her for a while, then took off flying. He flew around the nest before circling back to her.
All of this love making lasted just a few seconds. In about two months I may be able to have pictures of Osprey chicks at this same nest. Note that the female was banded on one leg.
At another nest, a pair of Ospreys had already finished their breakfast and were just enjoying some down time.
Geese form beautiful skeins when they fly, and capturing them in flight is irresistible to most photographers. A few days ago, I was fortunate enough to see both Snow Geese and Canada Geese in V formation heading along on their Spring migration paths.
As bird photographers, we are often told to focus on the bird eyes and make sure they are not only visible but also stand out.
Chickadees are quite common in our area, at any time of the year. Up to now in most of the photos I took of them, their black eyes blend in and are indistinguishable from their black cap. Recently, at sunset, one of them posed long enough with its head turned to the sun, and revealed its bright eyes.
The female Ruddy Duck has brown eyes, usually lost in its brown cap, until the sun shines on them.
Sparrows have brown eyes which are more visible, but a ray of sunlight also helped to bring them out.
On the other hand Red-breasted Mergansers have devilish red eyes that cannot be missed.
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.
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.
Mute Swans are monogamous and mate for life. However, when one of a pair dies, the other will try to find another mate. A male will then find a younger or older female, but a female will look for a younger male.
Yesterday, I went to Glades Wildlife Refuge at the southern end of New Jersey not very far from the Delaware Bay. On a pond there, a bevy of Mute Swans was foraging for food, each swan separate from the others, except for a couple. Unless I am mistaken, a smaller female and a younger male where going through courtship rituals. Young male swans have a dull gray bill that will become orange in color when they are mature.
Last Saturday at the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge, I came too close to some Mallards and they took off flying with a great deal of noise, almost like a series of explosions. First the female.
Then the male.
As I walked on, I found them again after a while, swimming and looking for food as they do most of the time.
As of 2014, the Northern Pintail is on the list of birds in steep decline. Yesterday, though, I saw many of them at John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge, outnumbering all the other ducks combined. They were busy looking for food, flying about from one spot to another, and allowing me ample opportunities for photos.
Today, temperatures rose to 64oF (18oC) which made it feel like Spring. I went to the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge opposite Philadelphia International Airport on the other side of I-95. Vegetation still looked drab and dull, but among the light brown reeds I saw a flash of brilliant red. It was a male Northern Cardinal. He kept foraging for food in the same area for several long minutes. I took a series of shots and the following turned out to be the better ones.
The link for this Weekly photo Challenge is: https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/shadow-2017/
Two days ago, I was taking pictures of the moon when I heard the sound of a jet airplane. It flew overhead, to the left of the moon, and I just had seconds to swing my camera toward it. There was no time to adjust any setting, with the following result.Here’s a picture of the moon.
In the end we only got 4 inches (10 cm) of snow as it was too warm and the storm started out as rain spattering on our roof in the middle of the night. Our feathered friends gathered around the feeder and tried to make the best of it.
A major snowstorm is supposed to dump from 8 to 12 inches of snow in our area tomorrow. It was quite warm this evening, around 60°F (15 °C), and when I went out there was a bright moon in the sky. Dark clouds flew by and covered it from time to time, but only a few minutes wait allowed me to take the following shot.
For this first post of the new lunar year (Year of the Rooster), here are three colorful photos of some favorite flowers encountered during our visit to Hội An, Việt Nam last November. The last two photos appeared on this blog before. This time, I reprocessed them to enhance the beauty of the flowers even more.
According to the moon calendar, tomorrow is the first day of the Lunar New Year, too often incorrectly called Chinese New Year. Chinese astrology assigns the Rooster as the Zodiac animal of this new year. The following photo is from last Spring, showing a rooster proudly leading a pack of three hens in an open field in South Jersey.
Happy New Lunar Year to all my friends here at WordPress. May it bring you many blessings and all that you wish for.
For those of us who long for a sunny day this January, here’s a photo taken on a sunny day last summer of a Russian Orthodox church in Jackson, NJ. I had taken pictures of it two years earlier, but on that day it looked so pretty I knew I had to stop!
This Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge is at the following URL:
The following series of photos shows Common Terns doing graceful acrobatics to find food at the Edwin B Forsythe Wildlife Refuge.
Somehow the following photo reminded me of the story of Jonathan Livingston Seagull, who became famous 47 years ago when the book by the same name was an instant best-seller in 1970. Do people still read it now?
The Downy Woodpecker is a bird that we often see in our backyard, competing with other small birds for sunflower seeds form the bird feeder. It does not eat peanuts, perhaps because those are too big for their beak. In the spring and summer, it can be heard drumming against wood, whether on trees or on our house trims!
Today one of them, a male, lingered among the magnolia branches for a minute or so, allowing me to capture it in the following photos.
Saturday was a cold and snowy day. Only one inch of snow was forecasted, but it kept snowing most of the day and in the end we got at least 3 inches. The poor birds sheltered among our magnolia branches, but only because they know I usually stock our feeder with sunflower seeds to the brim.
After it stopped snowing, as a special treat, I put out a tray of roasted peanuts to provide them with some energy food. Within a few minutes, Blue Jays appeared and swooped down to literally gorge themselves.
A week ago at the Barnegat Lighthouse, many people came to walk along the beach, as it was sunny and the wind was bearable, especially if one wore a good winter jacket or coat.
Along the jetty, but away from the swift currents that Harlequin ducks preferred, there were three other kinds of ducks or waterbirds swimming and diving calmly for food.
Earlier in the day, I saw a pair of Mallards dabbling for food at Edwin B Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge which has been practically closed due to road repairs for at least half a year now.
Upon seeing a gull fly by at Barnegat, I instinctively raised my camera and took a shot. Later, when I looked at the following photo, at first I couldn’t figure out what that roundish object was. Finally it dawned on me that it was a clam that a juvenile Ring-billed Gull had just dropped after it had fished it out of the ocean.