Did these mallard ducks (Anas platyrhynchos) ever move fast! This is the far side of the pond, about 80m away. Nikon D850 and 200-500mm lens.
Whilst the hen mallard seems to be in charge of these ducklings, they are awfully big for ducklings without any spiky feathers showing through. And with them is a female Wood Duck. I know Wood Ducks (Aix sponsa) are prone to ‘egg dumping’ where they lay in someone else’s nest, but I think they stay within their own species for this. And mallards like to adopt other ducklings. Maybe they’re just a non-traditional family!
Reader Lorraine sends some photos from her walks in Virginia.
Today we have some lovely landscape photos from Gareth Price. His captions are indented, and you should (i.e., must) enlarge the photos by clicking on them.
I sent you some landscapes a couple of years back, taken mainly in Oregon. Largely because of the current price of gas, I haven’t been out of town taking photos much recently but I have taken some landscapes in Portland itself. I am attaching a few.
Two are views of the Willamette River, taken one January evening from Elk Rock Island and the waterfront at Milwaukie; one is of the Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge taken in the Fall; there is the Redwood Grove in the Hoyt Arboretum in Washington Park taken one summer evening: the path is the Wildwood Trail which runs for nearly 30 miles; the only photo not taken in Portland is the view of the Clackamas River which was taken in Estacada; finally, I include a cityscape (which you are welcome to discard), a view of the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall and the Heathman Hotel. I was walking past these buildings late one afternoon and I noticed that the sun, which is off to the left, was reflecting off the building across the road and illuminating the Heathman Hotel in an interesting checkered pattern. I didn’t have my camera with me but I went back the following day, at the same time, and the light was very similar.
He adds that these are “high dynamic range photos.”
Taken through a window, but finally I managed it! There’s a pair of these birds, Contopus cooperi, feeding and likely nesting near the house on this side of the pond. They wake me up about 5 am if the windows are open, with their “Quick! Three beers!” call. They fly from side to side of the house, picking up some juicy insect along the way. Now that the dragonflies are out, they have easy pickings. When I go down to my record-cleaning machines (don’t ask unless a vinyl fanatic!) in the basement I sometimes see one of them perched on something close to the windows. So I set up the Nikon D850 and the 400mm lens on a tripod, saying to myself that one day things would coincide. And so they did.
From Garry VanGelderen:
Attached are two photos of ospreys (Pandion haliaetus) that I took some time in May at the Wye Marsh Wildlife Centre near Midland, Ontario.
From Norman Gilinsky, photos labeled “Trigger warning: Irresistible cuteness!”
Here we have a tiny baby bunny, an Eastern Cottontail Rabbit (Sylvilagus floridanus) from my yard in Washington State. No, this ball of fur was not displaced from somewhere in the east. Cottontails were introduced here in Washington State in the 1930’s and—not surprisingly given their propensity to reproduce—now thrive here. I don’t believe that they have displaced any native rabbits here, at least in the Seattle area where I live. The cuteness of this baby rabbit is undeniable. I hope it survives, but life for these babies can be difficult as they are often viciously tormented by crows in ways that are hard to watch.
When I asked Norm if the mother was still around, he responded:
The probable mom is still around, but by this point (it appears to me from watching several litters grow up this spring) the mom is not providing much care. The bunny was not afraid of me until I got within about six inches of it, so it was barely aware that photographers can be dangerous. The bunnies grow up very quickly.
Hummingbirds from Emilio d’Alise, with tentative IDs
From Andrew Berry, a photo that I just got this morning.
From a couple of days ago in Colorado. Once, early morning, I had made it to a decent altitude (~13K’) in the hills above Leadville, CO, clouds moved in on the back of a stiff chill breeze. The tops were obscured. Shortly, however, after reaching a peak, with the early morning sun competing with the low cloud, my shadow was flung off the edge of the mountain on to the bank of cloud. Photo below, a Brocken spectre materialized. This is a relatively unusual phenomenon (I’d never seen it before, but often heard accounts of it) whereby the shadow-on-cloud generates a rainbow-hewed halo. Cool effect. It makes me look like a New Age Jesus!\
The rainbow circle is called a “glory.”
And the site of the photo:
Photo taken on the cloud-obscured left hand peak below, Horseshoe Mountain, 13,898 ft. Mt. Sheridan to the right.
I have a need, a need for photos. Send ’em if you got ’em. Thanks!
Today’s batch (and I may take a hiatus of this feature during the three-day weekend) comes from Matt Young. His captions and IDs are indented, and you can enlarge the photos by clicking on them.
Four hours in Rocky Mountain National Park. A colleague and his wife were attending a conference in Denver and had a day off, so my wife and I went with them to the park one day in June of 2015. Not incidentally, I also had my (then) new Sony alpha-6000 with a pair of kit lenses, all of which I naturally had to try out.
Here then is the entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park. I confess to having edited out the back of a road sign:
Next, a panorama, just to see if I could do it. The camera is somewhat fussy, and I always seem to scan too fast or too slowly:
A snapshot showing terracing as a result of freeze-thaw cycles:
Glacial cirques, large bowls caused by the action of the glaciers during the Ice Age. The most prominent is on the right, but there are more in the background:
The alluvial fan caused when a dam burst in 1982, burying the town of Estes Park in mud. The fan is beginning to fill in, especially on the right side, but it would not be fair to show an earlier picture:
Today we have some lovely seaside photos taken by reader Taryn Overton; they could be called “Fifteen ways of looking at a beach.” Her captions are indented and you can enlarge the photos by clicking on them.
I’ve lived in South Florida for a few years. This set of photos is from the same beach in Naples, Florida across seasons during 2021. All were taken near sunset and highlight the vastly different beach experience one can have on any given evening.
The white birds in the surf in multiple photos are Snowy Egrets (Egretta thula). I see them most often toward sunset wading in the shallow waters spearing fish. Their feet are bright yellow, and as such they’re said to ‘dance on golden slippers.’
Get those photos in, please! Several readers obliged, and I’m grateful.
Today’s batch comes from Gary Radice, whose captions and descriptions are indented. Click the photos to enlarge them.
I just returned from a trip to the Tetons and Yellowstone. I was outside the Park in West Yellowstone when the devastating floods hit and was never in danger.
In the days before the flooding my wife and I saw quite a bit of wildlife but rarely close enough for pictures. Except these:
In Yellowstone, we watched a single trumpeter swan (Cygnus buccinator) preening in the middle of the Firehole River, close enough to photograph with my small telephoto lens.
And near the Obsidian Cliffs we saw a pair of sandhill cranes (Antigone canadensis) with two little chicks. I was pretty far away and I couldn’t get a shot of the whole family, but I did get this one. I think the sandhill crane is my absolutely favorite bird. I could watch them for hours.
And in the Tetons, we went to visit Mormon Row to photograph the barns, common site for photographs. There was a magpie sitting on a post that I hoped would make it a little more interesting. I was using my iPhone for this one. Just as I took the shot the bird flew off. “Darn,” I thought. “The bird will be just a blur.” Later I opened the picture on my laptop.
This one is worth seeing enlarged. [JAC: the bird is there!]
Today’s photos come from the North Island of New Zealand and were taken by Chris Taylor. His captions and IDs are indented, and you can enlarge the photos by clicking on them.
In response to your request I’ve been looking through my photos for some you might be able to use. To start off with, here’s a set of photos from New Zealand, from a trip I made to the North Island a few years ago.
First, a panorama of the active volcano Mt Tongariro. It looks peaceful enough, but you can see steam issuing from two vents in the volcano’s slopes.
Grey Duck or Pārera, Anas superciliosa. Although known in Australia as the Pacific Black Duck and Grey Duck in New Zealand, there is almost no black in the plumage. It is very closely related to the Mallard, and will interbreed with introduced birds.
Red Billed Gull or tarāpung, Larus novaehollandiae. Also called Pacific Silver gull in Australia.
Pied Stilt or Koaka , Himantopus himantopus . Two photos taken at the Hell’s Gate Thermal area near Rotorua.The birds were feeding in the warm water of the springs, and it was a couple of minutes before I saw the chicks – they were quite camouflaged against the volcanic rocks!
Photos from the Pūkorokoro / Miranda shorebird reserve. Flocks of Bar-tailed Godwit/Kuaka Limosa lapponica, Ruddy Turnstone, Arenaria interpres, Wrybill/Ngutuparore Anarhynchus frontalisand others. I was there at low tide, not the best time to see the birds! This is looking out across the flats and the Firth of Thames to the hills of the Coromandel Peninsula. This is a vital area for many of the migrant species that arrive in New Zealand, as they can feed here to build up their bodies after the rigors of their flight. The Bar-Tailed Godwit or Kuaka is the world champion when it comes to migration, traveling from NZ to Alaska and back each year. The Northward flight usually goes via Indonesia and China, but the southward return to Pūkorokoro is often done non-stop. Last year, one bird known as 4BBRW, was fitted with a tracker and was observed to make a 12,050km non-stop flight.
Silver Fern, Alsophila dealbata, in Rotorua. One of the Floral Emblems of New Zealand.
House Sparrow, Passer domesticus. Introduced by the British after colonisation. This one was flying around as we sat having coffee at a cafe in Whitianga.
Yes, we have no wildlife today but we have geysers—photographed by Matt Young. Matt’s notes are indented, and you can enlarge the geyer pix by clicking on them.
I had the good fortune to spend several days in Iceland in the summer of 2010 with my wife and a Canon PowerShot G11. One of the more interesting points of interest, at least photographically, was a visit to Geysir, which, as you might guess, is the root from which we get “geyser.” When we were there, it erupted every 8 min or so. Typically, it burbled for a while,
. . . then went back to a quiescent state:
before threatening an eruption:
. . . and then blowing its top (several minutes elapsed between the third and fourth photographs).
The following picture was exposed (from the opposite side) a few minutes before the sequence and illustrates the height of the blast – around 15 m, which is on the low side according to Wikipedia.
Finally, for good measure, a different kind of eruption. The rock (upper left corner) was provided by my grandson Toby Shannon in 2013, when he was 9. It took a lotta rocks to get that sequence. Walden Ponds, Boulder, Colorado, Canon PowerShot SX280.
Geysers are made from a tube-like hole in the Earth’s surface that runs deep into the crust. The tube is filled with water. Near the bottom of the tube is molten rock called magma, which heats the water in the tube.
Water in the lower part of the tube, close to the magma, becomes superhot. Gradually, it begins to boil. Some of the water is forced upward. The boiling water begins to steam, or turn to gas. The steam jets toward the surface. Its powerful jet of steam ejects the column of water above it. The water rushes through the tube and into the air.
The eruption will continue until all the water is forced out of the tube, or until the temperature inside the geyser drops below boiling (100 degrees Celsius, or 212 degrees Fahrenheit, at sea level).
After the eruption, water slowly seeps back into the tube. The process begins again. In some small geysers, the eruption process can take just a few minutes. In larger geysers, it can take days. The most famous geyser in the United States, Yellowstone National Park’s Old Faithful, erupts about every 50-100 minutes.
And here’s an eruption of Steamboat Geyer in Yellowstone, currently the tallest geyser in the world. The eruptions can last up to 40 minutes, spewing a column of water 300 feet into the air:
Today Mark Sturtevant is back with some lovely wide-angle photos. Mark’s IDs and comments (links are also his) are indented, and you can enlarge the photos by clicking on them:
A specialty area of macrophotography is wide angle macrophotography. Here, a subject can be seen in extreme closeup while its broader surroundings are also in view since the lens is also a wide angle lens. The best-known wide angle macro lens is one made by Laowa, but that lens is rather expensive. But there is a near clone of that lens made by Opteka—the Opteka 15mm f/4) which retails for just over $100. So. . . I bought the Opteka. It took a while to figure out how to get along with it since these kinds of lenses are very challenging, but I can definitely say that this is the most fun lens that I own. Here are some wide angle macro pictures.
This is a ground-level view of my favorite spot to look for aquatic fishing spiders on lily pads. None were here that day. You can see that the depth of focus is pretty amazing when stopped down all the way to f/32 (!):
Views up a tree are always interesting. This lens encourages one to look for unique angles. The picture is focus-stacked from several pictures:
Mushrooms near a forest trail:
But of course, photographing spiders and insects is especially fun (for me). Here is a nursery web spider (Dolomedes tenebrosus), which is one of the biggest and scariest spiders around here. I could trust that she would not leave her babies in the web nursery, though, even though the lens is practically touching her:
European praying mantis (Mantis religiosa). I rather like the solar flares that often turn up in this lens. There is a short lens hood, but it’s pretty useless because the working distance is often just a few millimeters for wide angle macro lenses.
If anyone wishes to learn more about this kind of photography, one cannot do better than watch this delightful review from the great Thomas Shahan. He concentrates mainly on the Laowa wide angle macro lens, but it really is like the Opteka model as far as I am aware.