Juvenile Mockingbird

Juvenile Northern Mockingbird, Wells National Estuarine Research Center at Laudholm Farms, Wells ME

I took a walk at Laudholm Farms yesterday…on a hot, hazy, last-day-of-August, summer afternoon. The mosquitoes were uncomfortably thick, but there were a good number of interesting birds…lots of juveniles of several species…and some Yellow-legs at the pond behind the dunes.  I was photographing some juvenile Eastern Bluebirds when motion in a bush off to one side caught the corner of my eye. This juvenile Mockingbird was ensconced among the berries. It is perhaps molting into adult plumage, and it looks like it might just have had a bath as well.

Nikon P900 at 2000mm equivalent field of view. 1/400th @ ISO 400 @ f6.5. Processed in Lightroom.


Ground Squirrel In Your Face!

Ground Squirrel, Arizona Sonora Desert Museum, Tucson AZ

Full disclosure here! There is a relatively new display at the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum near Tucson called “On the Rocks”. It features an odd assortment of animals, most of which live below-ground: bugs, reptiles, ground squirrels…and for some odd reason, the Roadrunner and the Elf Owl. The Ground Squirrels learned early on that the glass is there to protect them from the humans and that it works. They seem to enjoy running right along it and pressing their noses up to it for a better view of the audience. With a wide angle lens and macro focus, you can get some great shots…of the humorous variety. Like this one :)

Sony HX90V at 24mm equivalent field of view. 1/640th @ ISO 80 @ f3.5. Processed and cropped for composition in Lightroom.

Ruddy Turnstone in passing. Happy Sunday!

Ruddy Turnstone, Kennebunk ME

On one of our after-dinner walks on the beach this week, we found a group of Ruddy Turnstones feeding among the more common Semi-palmated Plovers. The next evening, both were gone from the beach, replaced by hundreds of Sanderlings. It is already fall migration along our coast, and the birds passing through change day to day. I suspect I have seen a Ruddy Turnstone in Maine before, but it was years ago, when birding friends used to encourage me further afield to chase birds, especially during migration. I seem to remember seeing them on Hill’s Beach on the Saco Bay side of Biddeford Pool.The Ruddy Turnstone nests on the coast of Alaska and on the Islands of the Canadian Arctic Shield. They winter as close to us as the shores of Connecticut. I see them in New Jersey in October, and Florida in January…I might even see them in Panama in October, depending on how fast they move south.  Finding them on our local beach was a real treat.

It has been a long time since we humans were migrants, as we certainly were, whether we lived by hunting or herding or trading. Even in the early days of agriculture, we moved with seasons. It is in our blood, perhaps in our genes (certainly in our spirits)…and we feel the tug, spring and fall…the urge to follow the sun south (or north), or, at the very least, the slope of land down to the shore in spring, or up to the forests in winter. I find myself, at this stage of my life, repeating the pattern at least in part. New Jersey and Panama in October, the Rio Grande Valley of Texas in November, Florida and Honduras in January and early February, Southern California in March, and back to Florida in April just in time to catch the north bound migration, which will take me to Ohio in May and then home to Maine for the summer. I don’t know whether that makes me feel the tug more or less…but I certainly can not deny feeling it. I can identify with the Ruddy Turnestone.

Not that I can keep this up forever, season after season, but while it lasts I will certainly enjoy it…taking each season at its best…following fall south and spring north…being at home wherever I am in my yearly journey…giving thanks to the Creator God, who is always with me. Happy Sunday.



Semipalmated Snack

Semi-palmated Plover, A Beach, Kennebunk ME

We have been taking after-dinner walks on the beach the past few days. It is still tourist season in Kennebunk, and even though our local beach is not strictly speaking a “public” beach, there is never any parking there from shortly after sunrise when the fishermen arrive, to just before sunset, when the tourists begin to go back to motels and out to supper. We time our visits according. :) There are quite a few peeps and shore-birds coming through on migration right now. This is a Semi-palmated Plover, dispatching a little wormy thing it plucked from the surf. The light, only a half hour before an August sunset, is low, slanting, and warm.

This is a full frame, hand-held shot. Nikon P900 at 2000mm equivalent field of view. 1/500th @ ISO 250 @ f6.5. Processed in Lightroom.

White-winged Dove

White-winged Dove. Arizona Sonora Desert Museum, Tucson AZ

I realize this morning that I have been misspelling the Sonora in Arizona Sonora Desert Museum for two weeks now. Time to correct it. This is a White-winged Dove, the common dove of the southwest, on, I believe, an organ pipe cactus on the grounds of the museum. Easy to overlook, but beautiful in close view.

Nikon P900 at 1600mm equivalent field of view. 1/500th @ ISO 180 @ f6.3. Processed in Lightroom.

Chuckwalla! NOT. Mexican Spiny-tailed Iguana.

Chuckwalla Lizard, Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum, Tucson AZ

Chuckwalla Lizard, Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum, Tucson AZ

Pic for Today: Chuckwalla! (Mexican Spiny-tailed Iguana)
I thought this was a Chuckwalla,  another local lizard that makes itself at home on the grounds of the Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum. There is an enclosure, just before you enter the museum gates, where Chuckwallas and other Sonoran lizards are supposed to be on display, but, honestly, they are hard to miss on any visit to the museum if you just keep your eyes open wherever you find large rocks (real rocks or the fake rocks the museum use to build displays…the Chuckwallas do not seem to care). This large male was displaying on a rock near the Mountain Canyon displays, which is where I have encountered the Chuckwalla most often at the ASDM. The panel shows the same specimen: full body (though the tail is curled around behind and below) and close up.

Note: This is actually a cross between a Mexican Spiny-tailed Iguana and a San Esteban Island Spiny-tailed Iguana…unique to the grounds of the Desert Museum…introduce there in the 70s and still breeding.

Sony HX90V at 285mm and 720mm equivalent fields of view. 1/250th @ ISO 320 and 400, @ f6.3 and f6.4. Processed in Lightroom. Assembled in Phototastic Collage.

Late Calico Pennant

Calico Pennant, Day Brook Pond, Kennebunk Plains Wildlife Management Area, ME

By this late in the summer, most of the Calico Pennants you see are well worn, with tattered wings, and somewhat brittle looking abdomens. This specimen, from the shores of Day Brook Pond on the Kennebunk Plains Wildlife Management Area, seems relatively fresh. Either it managed to survive without visible signs of the day to day battle, or it emerged late.

Sony HX90V at around 1200mm equivalent field of view (with some digital Clear Image zoom). 1/250th @ ISO 250 @ f6.4. Processed and cropped for composition in Lightroom.

Coyote in the morning sun…

Coyote. Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum, Tucson AZ

Coyote. Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum, Tucson AZ

I do not generally like zoo shots, but as I have mentioned before, the Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum is somewhat exempt from my dislike. The exhibits at the ASDM are very well done…about as natural looking as you can get, and provide the animals with at least of slice of their natural habitat. This Coyote was laying on a rock in the early morning sun in its large enclosure, apparently content. When you visit the ASDM in August, you go early, as soon as the museum opens at 7:30, when the animals are more active, and the heat is more bearable. Coyotes are semi-nocturnal animals, and this one was apparently resting and warming before finding some shade for the day.

Nikon P900 at 2000mm equivalent field of view. 1/500th @ ISO 250 @ f6.5. Processed in Lightroom.



Broadbill in triplicate.

The same Broadbilled Hummingbird three times. Santa Rita Lodge, Maderia Canyon, AZ

The same Broadbilled Hummingbird three times. Santa Rita Lodge, Maderia Canyon, AZ

This is another Broadbilled Hummingbird collage…three poses on the same branch. I suspect this is a young bird molting into adult plumage.

Nikon P900 at 2000mm equivalent field of view. 1/320th @ ISO 400 @ f6.5. Processed in Lightroom and assembled in Coolage.

A Praise of Blazing Star! Happy Sunday.

Northern Blazing Star. Kennebunk Plains Wildlife Management Area, ME

You might remember that back in late July and early August I was tracking the bloom of the Northern Blazing Star on the Kennebunk Plains and predicting one of the best years for the flower in recent memory. On August 5th I left for 2 weeks of travel and it rained for a few days when I got home…so it was yesterday before I got out to the Plains to see how the Blazing Star was doing. And it was certainly doing! I have not, in my more than 20 years of living in Southern Maine, seen the Blazing Star so dense or so extensive. To say that the Plains are purple with it is an understatement. This might be full bloom. I saw no unopened buds, and the oldest, topmost buds on each plant are fading…but, oh my, what a bloom!

Sony HX90V, in-camera HDR at 67mm equivalent field of view. Processed in Lightroom.

I sometimes think that mankind is unique among all God’s creation in the ability to praise the creator. We have the privilege, not only of being created, but of knowing that we are. And we know, if we know God at all, that we are created with love…lovingly created…and loved all life long. We respond to the greatness of that love with praise…thankfulness, awe, joy…we make a joyful noise before God…lifting hands and faces…bold in the awful presence of the Creator of all.

But then I see the Kennebunk Plains ablaze with the purple of Northern Blazing Star, and I am not so sure we are alone in our ability to praise. A plain full of Blazing Star in bloom looks a lot like praise to me…as though the earth itself lifted its face and hands and broke out in exalted song.

A praise of Blazing Star!

When we praise the creator of all, how can we not believe that all creation praises with us. And I, for one, can not look on the Plains ablaze with Blazing Star without praising…  Happy Sunday!