Today I had the opportunity to take a few photos of Trumpeter Swans in a private backyard pond in north Iowa. It seems that Spring should be here soon, but we still have several feet of snow most places. The corn fields are covered with snow and and most of the lakes and rivers are still frozen over, but these several swans, Canada Geese and Mallards found a small spot of open water in this pond and settled in. Photos taken from the deck of the homeowner's house.
[Click Images to see larger]
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Take a few minutes, sit back, relax and enjoy a quiet canoe float down the river in North Iowa with my good friend Dale Mills who wrote and narrated the text for the video.
I have traveled many miles on many occasions to photograph Bald Eagles. It is nice when I can photograph some just a few miles from home. This one gave me a nice fly-by while I sat and watched for several hours as they rested on the nest, perched on branches and stretched their wings with their aerial maneuvers. A long telephoto lens allows me to keep my distance, yet get some close-up photos.
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Monday, February 18, the night before the full Moon. The rising nearly full 'snow supermoon' tonight, over a snowy Winter farmland with a long telephoto lens (600mm + 1.4 = 840mm). This month the moon is at its closest orbit to the Earth about making it appear 10% larger and 30% brighter than average. Due to refraction in the atmosphere it appears largest near the horizon when rising or setting. The night before the full Moon there is still light in the sky because the sun has not yet set.
Just outside one of the eastern entrances to Death Valley National Park, near Beatty, NV is the ghost town of Rhyolite. This was a late gold rush era mining town with a short life from 1904 until about 1916. Death Valley and the surrounding areas have some of the darkest night sky in the country. I had hoped to get some images of the ghost town and stars and Milky Way on a clear night. Unfortunately as the moon was setting and the sky got darker the clouds moved in very quickly and stayed for the next four nights (along with rain). Below are the remains of the old bank building, with the constellation of Orion, the Orion nebula and Sirius in the the sky. Also an interesting pole with shoes and boots hanging from it - (a shoe tree?). Then the clouds moved in and I was done with night photos.
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We spent three days in Death Valley National Park last week (January, 2019). While many of the areas were closed due to the shutdown of the federal government (grrrr), we did see some of the notable features including the salt flats of Badwater Basin 282 feet below sea level - the lowest place in the western hemisphere, sand dunes, mountains and valleys, desert, a 200 year-old volcano crater, and very little wildlife (see previous post about the coyote). It is a pretty hot dry place most of the year, but it was cool, cloudy and rainy for most of our visit with one good day of sunshine.
(Click the photos to see larger.)
We have driven by this tree many times in previous years but never taken the time to stop and enjoy it. The tree, a few miles south of Faribault, MN, has been decorated for several years by Jerry Lageson and has something like 45,000+ lights on it. Most people go whizzing by at 70+ MPH on Interstate 35 and get a fleeting glimpse. There is not an easy exit to get to the side road and requires a few miles south on I-35, then a few more miles back north on county roads, across the interstate, them back south again to get to the tree. This was a perfect early December night right after a new fallen snow. Here is a news feature (after the commercial) from KARE 11 TV.
I call them Winter birds, because Pine Siskins usually spend their summers much farther north, and occasionally show up in our backyard for part of the Winter. Yesterday I counted 53, but I'm sure that number was low, because there were many in the trees and bushes that I didn't count (it helps to have lots of feeders out).They are about the size of a Goldfinch, with a very streaked breast and pointed bill. They eat copious amounts of thistle seed and black-oil sunflower seeds and don't seem to care if they go up the feeder or down the feeder, as long as they get to the seed.
I was notified today that I won two awards in the Voyageurs National Park Association 2018 Photo Contest. Third place for a Common Loon photo and Honorable Mention for a photo of the Milky Way over the Ash River. My two photos are below. You can see all of the winners on the Voyageurs National Park Facebook page.
I also see that the Voyageurs National Park Association used my Milky Way photo as their cover photo on Facebook.
I had an opportunity to photograph the resident education birds at the Iowa Raptor Project near Solon, IA and Lake MacBride State Park. Each bird has a unique story of how it was injured and can't be returned to the wild. They are now education birds open to the public to view the birds and learn about raptors. This is a joint project of Kirkwood Community College and The University of Iowa Recreational Services. [Click the images to see larger and read the descriptions.]
I'm still finding lots of Monarch butterflies - hundreds in this prairie area near Galena, Illinois. I really enjoy taking photos of butterflies and prairie flowers and spider webs with morning dew among the prairie flowers. [Click an image to see larger.]
A molting male Cardinal wrestling with a very large Emperor Moth caterpillar hanging from a branch. The caterpillar put up a good fight, swinging back and forth and curling up in a ball to get away from the Cardinal, but after about 15 minutes it finally got knocked to the ground where the male and female Cardinal promptly pounced on it.
[4 photos and a video- click to see larger.]
Watch the short video:
I got a little carried away with fireworks photos from the first night of the PGI (Pyrotechnics Guild International) convention fireworks show in Mason City at the North Iowa Events Center. Several of the photos are multiple exposures in the camera to stack the explosions on a single image. Click to see lots of photos here -
Just a few notes about my photos. See more on Facebook.