Friday, February 25, 2011

Giving me the bird

I spent some time chatting with volunteers at the Caballo Lake State Park while I was there.  Among other nuggets of information, such as where prospectors nearby were currently finding gold, they told me about a bald eagle that was frequenting the part of the Park below the dam.  Apparently, most mid-days would find a bald eagle hanging about.  Sometimes it would be in a dead tree near the entrance to the camping area.  Sometimes, it would be on a bluff across the Rio Grande.

I eagerly set off with camera gear.  On my first trip, high on the bluff I saw a large bird, clearly NOT a bald eagle.  I took a few hand-held shots which, because of the distance and hand holding, were fuzzy.  They were clear enough, however, to let me identify the bird as a large red tailed hawk.

The next day, I saw a bald eagle up on the bluff, about 600 feet away (per Google Earth).  I set up my tripod and put on the big lens.  With full magnification, I still needed to crop the shot and it was a bit fuzzy, but was worth keeping.  From my vantage point, he was silhouetted against the sky.

I took the shot, then moved downstream and closer, until I was about 400 feet away, as close as I could get.  From this point, he was no longer silhouetted against the sky.  He had the bluff behind him.  The white-painted rock to the right and below him suggests that this is a favored roost for him.  Another shot, and I sat and watched him for about 20 minutes, until he took off and flew west until he was out of sight.

Although I went back several times a day thereafter, armed with two tripods and both still and video cameras, I did not see him again.  Maybe next winter...

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Reminiscences - Autumn in New Jersey

New Jersey is not a state renowned for its autumn color.  Nevertheless, there is nice color when the summer weather cooperates.  One year, I watched a sole branch from a maple tree, draped in front of a white pine in my back yard, edge closer and closer to nice colors.  Finally, I grabbed my camera and from morning to evening, shot several slides of the intermix of dark green from the pine with the reds and yellows of the maple leaves. 

I kept this slide and scanned it.  It is now the only photo I have of where I used to live.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Reminiscences - Pink Beach

The ABC Islands are Aruba, Curacao and Bonaire.  Aruba is renowned for its beautiful fine white sand beaches.  The fine sand can reduce the clarity of the water, making Bonaire, with very few beaches, more popular with divers. 

For many years, I would vacation in Bonaire.  For years, I was captivated by, but failed to capture with my camera the rich blue hues that are turquoise in the shallow, sandy bottomed areas and a navy blue in deeper water.  Photo after photo was rejected, as not showing the colors with anything approaching how I saw them.

I loved the clarity and warmth of the water, and I learned a lot about how the ecosystem worked.  To illustrate, there is a type of fish called parrotfish.  They feed using chisel-like teeth on dead coral, scraping the surface and ingesting a mixture of algae and coral remnants.  They digest the algae and excrete the very fine particles of coral, which forms the fine white sand so treasured in Aruba.  I wonder how the tourists would feel about the beaches if they knew they were stretched out on parrotfish poop?

Bonaire does have a few beaches.  One, at the south end of the island, is known as Pink Beach. Its name is rumored to come from many sources, including claims of an effect produced by very fine white sand reflecting a pink color near sundown.

Years ago, as Hurricane Lennie moved through the northern Caribbean, it set up a series of unusually large waves.  This wave system struck Bonaire, doing considerable damage to structures along the shore and to shallow reef structure.  At Pink Beach, the fine white sand was washed away.

In an effort to restore the beach, construction equipment was used to try to dredge up offshore sand and replace the beach.  It did not work.  The result had many broken bits of coral, and the dredged-up sand disappeared either to the wind, to the waves or between the coarser pieces of coral.  It is no longer a fine sand beach that glows with a faint pink hue near sunset, but it is still a picturesque spot.  Not too long after Hurricane Lennie, I captured a shot at Pink Beach that I think shows the colors in the water fairly well.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Frozen Southwest

The storm that pounded so much of the Country so hard was gentler here in southern New Mexico.  We got some very high winds and cold temperatures, but only a dusting of snow.

This morning was neat.  When I woke at dawn, it was -3 degrees outside.  The air was very calm, with almost no movement.  I am next to a very large lake formed on the Rio Grande River called Elephant Butte Lake.  It is about 40 to 50 degrees warmer than the air this morning.  The result is mist forming at the surface of the lake and rising slowly into the air.

What is REALLY neat is that as the mist rises, the air is moving, very slowly, south.  The moisture continues to condense in the much colder air and a cloud is formed.  To the north, there is no cloud, and little mist because I am near the upper reaches of the lake.  To the south, there is a string of small clouds that have formed and, as they gain altitude and distance from the lake, slowly evaporate in the very dry air.  The result is a number of columns of mist, topped by a tiny cloud at their southern extent, surrounded by clear skies.