Thursday, October 28, 2010

A Picturesque view of Olana

This photo is mostly about the clouds for me...

(god, I love a wide-angle lens!)

But there's the whole Persian mansion thing at Olana and finding a more complete view of it was very difficult. Frederic Church designed it that way; he wanted the landscape to be experienced in *glimpses* or a particular, planned sequence of views...

The other photographers at Camp that weekend approached their work very seriously and with tripods, lining up to take (presumably) the same photo as the person before and behind.


I wandered around and in Gorilla-photographer mode ran down this hill with arms extended... briefly considered a child-like roll, even...

(but for the camera equipment and the embarrassment of being caught in the act!)

I turned around and found the mansion perched beside a maple tree afire...

: )

A Ming vase can be well-designed and well-made and is beautiful for that reason alone. I don't think this can be true for photography. Unless there is something a little incomplete and a little strange, it will simply look like a copy of something pretty. ~John Loengard, "Pictures Under Discussion"

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Bad bird photo of the week


My only hint is that I've never been to Texas.

: )

Monday, October 25, 2010


Brown Creeper, disappearing.

Were it not for their predictable habit of hanging out in the trees surrounding the Sandy Hook Bird Observatory and climbing upwards (but only partway!) before swooping down to the base of a nearby tree and starting their ascent all over again, I'd probably never notice them.

I did spend all that time watching kinglets yesterday tho, so my eyes had plenty of time to wander to the other birds who keep company with them.

Brown Creepers don't look like much, but they're a treat anyway and their song is sweet beyond words.

Where must a person live to hear Creepers sing regularly?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Petty kings

If only I'd gotten this hairdo...

combined with this expression!

: )

(I can't stop giggling at this pic!)

I wandered around Sandy Hook hoping for my first Brant of the season, but found none, despite they're being "in" already. Instead I spent the afternoon kicking up Golden Crowned Kinglets from the grass at my feet... such endearing little birds once you get eye level with them.

Eye level to a kinglet today meant parking myself in a sunny spot in the grass where they were feeding and waiting for them to come close enough... which garnered many a curious glance as I focused my lens at nothing very obvious to most people passing by.

It strikes me that bird photography, by necessity, is a solitary pursuit...

The post title refers to a translation of the genus name Regulus to which the kinglets belong; historical names include Flame-crest and Fiery-crowned Wren. The orange patch is only visible when a bird is excited or challenged by another. I think that's what the show was about in that top photo, as two birds were feeding very close together at the base of the tree.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


There is truth in a tree, yet it's of a different kind, now. It's not the verity born of strength and affirmation, but the peaceful quiet of fulfillment and endings.

The passing of summer is the passing of beauty; first the chicory is gone and now the goldenrod has faded. I feel winter rushing towards me in the painful blue of sky. The maples are busy making their own light; the long deep breath of Autumn has begun. 

Sunday, October 17, 2010

5 ways to look at a willet

I spent a couple of happy hours stalking the willets feeding at low tide on St. Simons Island and never could figure out what it was they were eating...

: )

Thursday, October 14, 2010

A week in photos

So... what have you been up to?

: )

Sunday, October 03, 2010

The happiness that comes to us

Disgruntled beginning birders were the theme at Sandy Hook Bird Observatory today; my first volunteer day since, oh... June, I guess.

Sitting behind the desk in that drafty building on the bay, on any given Sunday, promises a variety of experiences. Many days we see no one, but oftentimes we have a mix of visitors, full of questions, but hesitant to spend any money to validate our presence there.

Today, Donna and I managed to sell exactly one "Butterflies of Sandy Hook" checklist.

(Exactly sixty-four cents with tax.)

A banner sales day!

; )

Donna, who's a librarian by day, is used to this sort of trading of information for the sake of visitorship. She recognizes our purpose there more readily than me, probably.

Me... I feel like I haven't earned my keep as a volunteer if I haven't sold at least one copy of the Sibley's guide...

The folks who came in today or called to complain... about the birds not being Here now... or the birds not being There yesterday, were expressing a frustration that I imagine many of us feel...

We want what we want from the natural world, when we want it.

If we show up... we expect Nature will be there waiting for us, with bells on.


I've spent the last couple weekends at Cape May or at the hawkwatch in Montclair... looking for hawks, waiting for them to show...

They never did, really, not in any spectacular way that I've come to expect. Instead there was a huge passing of Monarch butterflies at Cape May and Buckeyes in the hundreds of thousands...

And a Ruby-throated Hummingbird that amused me for hours while waiting for Broadwings to pass, near invisible, overhead...

Opportunities fly by while we sit regretting the chances we have lost, and the happiness that comes to us we heed not, because of the happiness that is gone.

~Jerome K. Jerome, The Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow, 1889