Sunday, October 30, 2011

Trick or Treat Storm

The "Halloween Storm" dumped 3-4 inches of wet heavy snow on the area, breaking tree limbs and downing wires in the process. Thankfully, though we have several big branches down, there was no damage to our house or cars. With no power, no heat, no television, and no internet we decided that sitting in the house all day would not be fun, so we headed towards Great Meadows to see the extent of the storm damage there.

There were lots of trees down in Burlington and Bedford. Concord has spots that with fallen trees, but we felt it was slightly better off. Maybe that's because we found that Great Meadows still had heat and power in the rest rooms; which was something we were just starting to envy. The refuge was deserted, allowing us to take those first photos of a virgin landscape, leaving our foot prints behind for whoever followed.

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20111030 &emdash;

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20111030 &emdash;

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20111030 &emdash;


It's too bad the refuge was deserted. Amy spied a mature Bald Eagle across the upper impoundment sitting in a tree. We tried to sneak up on it, but the curve in the path prevented us getting a good shot. As soon as it heard us it flew.

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20111030 &emdash;

Shortly after the eagle departed a harrier arrived cruising the upper impoundment looking for a meal. He stopped to rest momentarily on the top of the duck box near the poison ivy bench. Several other raptors were seen circling near the waste water treatment plant.

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20111030 &emdash;

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20111030 &emdash;

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20111030 &emdash;


Between the raptors and the cold many of the smaller avian animals were either hunkered down, or hiding in the reeds. We did encounter a couple that were photographic.

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20111030 &emdash;

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20111030 &emdash;

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20111030 &emdash;
Downy Woodpecker

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20111030 &emdash;
Downy Woodpecker


Several details caught my eye including the seeds on Speckled Alder and Milkweed.

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20111030 &emdash;

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20111030 &emdash;


As we finished circumnavigating the lower impoundment my mind was just starting to come to grips with the incongruity of the foliage on the trees combined with snow on the ground. I've been dreading the onset of winter, with more challenging conditions and photographic opportunities. However, if there are going to be eagles and harriers every day, maybe it won't be so bad.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Looking for Evidence

Just a quick post since we are still without power at home, so I'm posting from the public library. My apologies if the developing is off, but they won't let me turn off the lights in the study room so I can see the LCD better....They are afraid I might be sleeping here!

Thursday evening we received a dusting of snow intermixed with rain. Since this is a change in the recent weather, it provided a built in excuse to go to Great Meadows to see the impact.

There really wasn't any. The geese were still flying.

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20111028 &emdash;

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20111028 &emdash;

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20111028 &emdash;

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20111028 &emdash;




Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20111028 &emdash;
A Cornell Alumni Group sponsored by Cornell Labs for Ornithology



Along the Dike a Goldfinch was feasting on Evening Primrose seeds. Which photo do you like better?

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20111028 &emdash;



Here are a few random impressions that caught my eye
Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20111028 &emdash;
A little snow remained in the woods in the shadows

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20111028 &emdash;
Ferns turning yellow highlighted by the sun

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20111028 &emdash;
Solitary leaf boating on the Concord

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20111028 &emdash;
Leaves and frost greet visitors to the observation deck

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20111028 &emdash;
Frost provides "sugar frosting" to plants

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20111028 &emdash;
Frost on lotus seed pod

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20111028 &emdash;
Fungi shines in the sun

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20111028 &emdash;
Foliage reflections

Monday, October 24, 2011

Big Day Part II

Whether you were teased by yesterday's two part post, or just happened to arrive here, welcome. I've been thinking that I've been ignoring the video capabilities of my D90. Knowing that I was going to be at the refuge before first light, I started to think about what I could share with video, then it came to me.

In the fall, I have grown to love coming to Great Meadows in the early morning to watch the Canada Geese depart for the day. For photographers it may not be as spectacular as Blastoff at Bosque del Apache, but it is local, it is enjoyable and it is a lot cheaper. Photographs can freeze moments of time, but can fall short of helping you fully experience the moment. The weather cooperated with a spectacular sunrise, with plenty of mist on the warmer water caused by cold overnight temperatures.


Click on the photograph to play the video. Musical accompaniment "Looking Back" by Jim Brickman


I must take a moment to thank the US Fish & Wildlife Service for building the new observation deck. This video would not have been possible in years past because there was no place to stand. While I often grumble about it's location because I have to shoot back into the light, today it was perfect.

As the flowers and trees are dying back, there are a few holding on to the bitter end. The glimpses of color and patterns against the darker, muted backgrounds stand out and catch my eye.

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20111024 &emdash;

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20111024 &emdash;

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20111024 &emdash;

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20111024 &emdash;

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20111024 &emdash;


Steven Morello, an accomplished nature photographer, recently visited our camera club. He encouraged us to not only take "pretty" nature photographs, but to capture environmental shots of animals. The American Coots are willing subjects, so I worked on trying to catch them among the smart weeds and other aquatic plants.

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20111024 &emdash;

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20111024 &emdash;

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20111024 &emdash;

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20111024 &emdash;


Far back along the path along the upper impoundment, I encountered this carcass of a muskrat that had reached its untimely demise. Among all the pleasant images of the day, it was a very real reminder that even in the safety of the refuge none is truly safe, the cycle of life continues.

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20111024 &emdash;


I know some of the regular followers of this blog, but many readers are anonymous to me. Thanks why it if fun when today Amy approaches me a Great Meadows and asks "Are you the guy with the website? I like your blog". It was a great end to a tiring day. I hope you encountered the deer near the maintenance barn, too. Unfortunately, I was too busy looking down at my camera to see if the duck in flight photos were any good, only to hear the deer bounding back into the woods, catching fleeting glimpses of their white tails. Hopefully next time I'll get the shot.

Big Day - Part I

Monday's visit has too much good stuff to fit into one post, so make sure you come back tomorrow to catch the second half. I think you'll find the video alone makes the visit worthwhile.

While a big objective of this project is photographicall sharing the spirit of Great Meadows with you, another personal objective is to grow both creatively and photographically. With the leaves starting to fall and winter rapidly approaching I realized that I am rapidly running out of time to try out a couple of ideas.

I've dabbled in time lapsed photography at Great Meadows, with mixed success. I've wanted to capture a day at the refuge, but technical difficulties, or boring weather, or an imopundment choked with lotus plants have foiled my attempts. The forecast for Monday was going to be the perfect day, starting cool, sunny all day, but with a front moving in later in the day. So that's why you could find me a the refuge from before sunrise and not finally leaving until the sun dipped back below the horizon.

>

Turn on your speakers and click on the photo to see the video. It finally captures the whole day in slightly over 1 minute. For some reason they weren't dredging the impoundment today, so it reflects a typical day at the refuge. (Musical accompaniment is "Playground" by Henry Adam Curtis)

Early morning at the refuge is special. In our noisy, fast paced world it is a place of relative quiet and solitude. The interaction of light and shadow, mist on the impoundment, the call of birds you can hear but not yet see, the bracing cool air tempered by the warming sun almost always make me delighted to have left my bed while it was still dark. I have mixed emotions. I wish more people could experience it, but at the same time know that the lack of people there make it special.

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20111024 &emdash;
Want to see how the sun moves during the year. Go back to July when the sun was rising over the outflow of the lower impooundment. Today it is almost aligned with Hanscom.

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20111024 &emdash;
Off for the early bird special

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20111024 &emdash;
Early light on foliage


There are a large number of Sparrows are busy along the sides of the dike, foraging and feeding. Birders can be found looking for less common variations (recently seen include Nelson's and Grasshopper Sparrows). I must confess that I have barely progressed past the LBB (Little Brown Bird) identification stage, though on occasion I have been able to identify a Savannah sparrow with their yellow streak. The most predominant variations are Swamp and Song Sparrows.

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20111024 &emdash;
Swamp Sparrow

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20111024 &emdash;
Song Sparrow

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20111024 &emdash;
Swamp Sparrow


Wandering back long the railroad bed, I encountered this American Robin posing on a dead branch against as beautiful foliage backdrop. Walking down the Edge Trail, I saw the Hermit Thrush foraging along the path.

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20111024 &emdash;
American Robin

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20111024 &emdash;
Hermit Thrush

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20111024 &emdash;
Hermit Thrush


Remember to mark you calendar to come back tomorrow for part two of this post.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Looking For A Fix

I wanted to take some foliage photographs on Saturday, but dense cloudy skies and boring flat light followed me throughout Southern New England. With a very busy day scheduled for Sunday and my photography jones crawling on my back, real bad, I got up to great the dawn at Great Meadows for a very quick visit.

It was almost freezing cold overnight (36 degrees when I left the house). The tough decisions started in the parking lot. Photograph this Downy Woodpecker, or rush out onto the dike to catch the mist caused by the collision of cold air and warmer water. In a spirit of compromise, I took several photos of this sure thing to warm up. This is my favorite one. Once was able to sneak past it, I was able to shoot with the light at my back and colorful foliage at his.

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20111025 &emdash;

When I think October at Great Meadows, I think of Geese and their morning departure. Today, the mist added a wonderful ethereal quality to the scene. Successive layers of geese were hid in the fog. Only their honking would give you clues to their numbers and location. Quickly the day started to warm and the mist quickly disapeared.

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20111025 &emdash;

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20111025 &emdash;

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20111025 &emdash;

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20111025 &emdash;

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20111025 &emdash;


The American Coots are either becoming more comfortable with people and starting to forage near the shore, or they have eaten the bulk of the food that's in the deeper waters. This allowed me to get some closer shots that allow us to study their behavior and their details. Catch the size of the feet on the running photo (click on it for a larger version). They are probably part of the reason the coots rock back and forth as they swim.

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20111025 &emdash;

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20111025 &emdash;

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20111025 &emdash;

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20111025 &emdash;


The Fish & Wildlife staff work hard to keep the refuge "natural" (As much as one can keep man made impoundments natural.) However, in the course of some of the maintenance and studies they leave man made footprints behind. I often find that the animals like to take advantage of these areas that are not fully open, nor fully closed in for foraging. This morning as I was heading out I ran into the juvenile Sora foraging in the area of the dike crunched down by the tractor treads.

The photographs in my recent post were enjoyed by my birding friends, but left me wishing for better photographically. Today the intersection of serendipity and maintenance let me finally take some photos we will both enjoy.

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20111025 &emdash;

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20111025 &emdash;