Archive for the ‘Nature Photography’ Category

Two years ago my wife and I attended a wedding in the Palo Alto, California area. During a bit of downtime we took a trip over to the “7 Mile Drive,” a road that runs along the Pacific Ocean that is famous for its scenic beauty. One of the well-known scenic places along the route is called “The Lone Cypress,” which is called the most photographed tree in the world. I dutifully photographed the tree along with dozens of other people around me — trying to think of some unique angle or view but realizing that it was unlikely that any of my shots were going to be very special.  One the way back to the car, I spotted this piece of driftwood, which absolutely no one was looking at. I thought it was quite interesting but didn’t have much time to photograph it since we needed to head back to the wedding. I thought this would be an interesting addition to this week’s challenge and I hope you agree,

 

Driftwood - 7 Mile Drive

I have been traveling in North Dakota a recently and had the good fortune to run across one of my favorite weather phenomena — hoarfrost. Hoarfrost is a heavy coating of ice that is typically deposited on vegetation leading to a winter wonderland appearance.  As the temperature of moist air drops its ability to hold moisture is reduced. When the air temperature is above freezing, dew forms. At temperatures fall below freezing the moisture in saturated air may condense directly to ice (hoarfrost).  Here are some photos of hoarfrost in North Dakota.

Hoarfrost1

Hoafrost2

Trip to 4Bears - December 04, 2014 - 0023-Edit

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I was recently in North Dakota visiting my father-in-law who lives in Minot. The major winter chill has hit there just as hard as it has hit most of the rest of the country although the area has avoided much of the heavy snow. The cold (temperatures often in the low single digits) has been only part of the story in the area. The wind has persistently been over 25 miles per hour with gusts between 30-50 miles per hour. The resulting wind chill has often resulted in temperatures in the teens and twenties below zero degrees Fahrenheit.

My first photo is of a horse as it tries to get some food from a frozen field. It isn’t snowing heavily, but the snow is blowing around causing near white out conditions.

Along County Hwy 3 (Snow Day) - November 17, 2014 - 158-2

In this photo, the wind has died down for a bit. I simply liked the composition.

Along County Hwy 3 - November 17, 2014 - 001-2

After the harvest (in what appeared to be a relatively rare corn field), the cattle go through the field to eat what they can find.  Again, there was not much snow, but it was bitterly cold with the wind chill.

Along Hwy 2 - November 17, 2014 - 0019-Edit

Finally, some rays of hope — the forecast indicates warmer weather within the next week.

Along Hwy 2 - November 17, 2014 - 0067-Edit

I recently spent a bit of time sitting in a reasonably comfortable bird blind that one of the members of my local photo club constructed.  It is a great way to get closeup photos of birds in the area and is an excellent resource.

Here are a few of my photos from my time in the bird blind. At the bottom of this post are two birds that I can’t identify (other than that one is some type of woodpecker).  I’d appreciate any information anyone can provide about these “mystery” birds.

Blue jay

Bird Blind - October 22, 2014 - 0099

I don’t know if these are immature Blue jays but they don’t have the full-blown distinctive crest you typically associate with a Blue jay (the bird in the second photo may be developing that crest).

Bird Blind - October 22, 2014 - 200 Bird Blind - October 22, 2014 - 285

 

Male Downy Woodpecker (in the second photo it is getting a grub out of a tree branch)

 

Bird Blind - October 22, 2014 - 0020 Bird Blind - October 22, 2014 - 0027

Female Downy Woodpecker

Bird Blind - October 22, 2014 - 0040Bird Blind - October 22, 2014 - 0079

Male Cardinal

Bird Blind - October 22, 2014 - 178-Edit

 

Female Cardinal

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Goldfinch

Bird Blind - October 22, 2014 - 0103

 

Mystery Woodpecker

Bird Blind - October 22, 2014 - 0031

Mystery Bird 2

Bird Blind - October 22, 2014 - 335

Madison’s Warner Park is less than 2 miles (3 km) from my home. It is a multi-use urban park that features a small baseball stadium, soccer fields, picnic areas, large parking lots, as well as a pond, semi-natural fields and wooded areas.

The pond attracts quite a bit of wildlife. While I typically have photographed birds in and around the pond, I recently decided to spend some time watching the turtles that live in the pond. All of the turtles that I saw were painted turtles. Painted turtles are the most widespread species of turtle in North American For good or ill because the pond at Warner Park is an urban multi-use park, it is subject to an oversupply of nutrients resulting in substantial algae blooms. The pictures that follow show the turtles in the pond. Since I am not a wildlife biologist, While the pond looked pretty bad, the turtles seemed to be in pretty good shape. I imagine they were trying to peacefully sun themselves, but they spent a fair amount of their time jockeying for position on the two major logs in the area of the pond I was watching.

Three Turtles

 

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Turtles - September 26, 2014 - 709 Turtles - September 26, 2014 - 680 Turtles - September 26, 2014 - 670 Turtles - September 26, 2014 - 637 Turtles - September 26, 2014 - 604

 

I was photographing some of the ornamental grasses in our yard recently when I happened to see this ladybug. Since I know that there are a lot of people who like ladybugs (although perhaps a more stylized ladybug than the actual one shown here:), I wanted to share it.

Ladybug

I recently visited the Cave of the Mounds, which is a limestone cave located near Blue Mounds, Wisconsin.  The cave is a designated as a National Natural Landmark, which is a program that recognizes the best examples of biological and geological features of the country in both public and private ownership. As with most caves, stalactites and stalagmites are common but the cave has a number of other  formations many of which are quite colorful and are the reason why the cave has long been promoted as the “jewel box” of major American caves.

The first photo shows a detail of a large flowstone formation: a small pool of water resting on the unusually colorful flowstone surface just after a water drop has hit the surface of the pool.

Cave of the Mounds - September 28, 2014 - 78

In the following photo stalactites hang above a flow stone formation.

Cave of th Mounds - September 28, 2014 - 0082

Here a large stalactite reaches down towards a stalagmite.

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This photo shows the joining of a stalactite and a stalagmite.

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Finally, here is a “lily pad” formation. Lily pads are created when water droplets fall into a puddle and create a formation that appears to float on top of the water in the puddle.

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