Two Snags

Brock-Harvey Forest Preserve on an early May morning

I found these snags surrounded and, at a distance, hidden by the burgeoning Brock-Harvey forest preserve here in the Finger Lakes.

As with burgeon (see yesterday’s blog post), the word “snag” has a long history from a forested northern region of the planet, though it hales from Scandinavian languages rather than Old English and Old German. As a noun “snag” is something with a point and a body long enough to cause inconvenience, the point catching on anything handy. As a verb “snag” is to become inconvenienced by a projecting body.

In forestry, a snag is any trunk of a dead tree. Commonly, a tree top breaks off leaving a jagged point which possibly can become an inconvenience. For birds, an upright dead tree is a blessing, perfect for homemaking.

Fallen, the snag is still a snag and also a home first for fungus. When the work of the fungus is done, the resulting mound is perfect for growing new trees.

Click me for the next post from this forest preserve, “Grand Views.”

References
snag definitions are from the Compact Oxford English Dictionary, Oxford University Press, 1971

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Feeding Frenzy

Nine videos taken the same morning, February 5, 2022

A multi-day hatch of small fry around the time of a new moon triggered this Black Skimmers (scientific name: Rynchops niger) feeding behavior surf off Cocoa Beach, Brevard County on Florida’s Atlantic Coast.

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

On the River Cong, County Mayo, Ireland

Scenes from the film “The Quiet Man” feature the main characters, played by John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara walking the opposite bank of Cong River.

Headed south from Cong Village, past the Abby at Saint Mary’s Church of Ireland, the road enters Ashford Castle estate.

I do not recall passing a guard box, though today there it is manned.

Here the road is named Ashford Castle where it comes to this spot with views across Cong River to the castle buildings.

Scenes from the film “The Quiet Man” feature the main characters, played by John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara walking the opposite bank of Cong River.

The River Cong emerges from the same Carboniferous limestone that forms County Clare’s Burren, buffering and further purifying the gorgeous water of Lough Mask.

Click this link to read more story in my online gallery.

Click this link to read another Ireland story “Killeany Bouy.”

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Dive!!

Less than 3 seconds elapse from the Osprey initiating dive to emergence from the surf and flight, fish in talons.

A sequence of high speed shots of what the Osprey does best. For this, the sixth and final post of this series (Click me for the first post, “Endless Searching“), we follow the bird in a dramatic plummet into the surf until it rises, catch in claws.

Click Me for “Florida” in my Fine Art Galleries.

“All Elements In Place”

Late morning of January 20, 2019 I headed out with the Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III mounted with the Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L USM lens for handheld shots. Many elements aligned for these shots: weather, equipment, placement among them. The angle of the sun at 11:21 am was not optimal, but the cloud cover made up for it.

Click any photograph for a larger view.
The Day’s Setting

Commitment

The dive impact happens in less than 2 seconds.

My observation is the reason the wings are extended is to maintain control of the dive…..
…..I have seen these dives terminate inches from the water with a u-shaped swoop.
Talons are extended in the final seconds.

The Strike

Less than one second from point of impact until emgergence and flight.

Instant of impace with wings still extended.
Gone

Arise

What strength, to lift off from the water.
Catch in talons
Copyright 2022, Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Osprey Pictorial

Humans are hard coded to relish scenes of water and land.

Now and then a photograph comes along that stands by itself. For this, the fifth post of this series (Click me for the first post, “Endless Searching“), we explore images that speak for themselves.

Click Me for “Florida” in my Fine Art Galleries.

“Another Day in Paradise”

Humans are hard coded to relish scenes of water and land. This day I headed out with the Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III mounted with the Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L USM lens for handheld shots.

Click any photograph for a larger view.
The Day’s Setting

Hook, Line and Sinker

Poise

Barely visible on the horizon are Cape Canaveral Launch Towers
Copyright 2022, Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Nesting

December through February is Florida Osprey nesting season.

“Florida ospreys (Pandion haliaetus) commonly nest on power poles, communication towers, water navigation devices, lighting fixtures, outdoor billboards and other man-made structures as well as in decaying or dead trees.” This quote from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission web site is a fitting introduction. For this, the fourth post of this series (Click me for the first post, “Endless Searching“), I explore images of Osprey nesting behavior.

Click Me for “Florida” in my Fine Art Galleries.

“Other Man-Made Structures”

Early morning winter Cocoa Beach walks offer a new experience with each dawn be it a change in wind, light, or beach-combing offerings. This looming crane was a consistent specter the entire month, poised over a downtown parking garage under construction.

Click any photograph for a larger view.
On the Lookout

Distant Figures

Each winter morning January 2019 I left our ocean side condo to walk the beach, taking equipment according to a whim. For this series I used the Sony Alpha 700 with a variable “Zoom” lens. In this next shot the focal length was set to maximum.

Searching the internet (“Florida Osprey behavior”), a link from http://www.naturesacademy.org states, in Florida, Osprey nesting season is December through February. The following series of photographs clearly show an Osprey with nesting material. The header image for this post clearly shows the markings of the individual holding a large branch.

The second individual is close to the same size, it is a reasonable conclusion the two are flying together. The series was taken in a 33 second time span.

The two were flying around the crane and it is beyond imagination they’d be successful building on an actively used crane. Would construction come to a halt until the nest was abandoned? I wonder.

In following days there were no signs of nesting behavior on the crane.

Copyright 2022, Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Shoulder to Shoulder

Snatch and Grab Shopper

“They walk among us” can evoke horror, still it is a fitting description for the many species successful in an ecological niche occupied by humans. This is the third post of a series featuring the Osprey of Cocoa Beach, Florida. The first post is “Endless Searching,” In this post we follow a householder on a shopping expedition.

Click for “Florida” in my Fine Art Galleries.

Observation

Search internet references on Florida Osprey you find there is a mixture of year-round residents and migrants passing through spring/fall to points farther north. This being January, my brilliant conclusion is these are residents of Cocoa Beach, maintaining nests. My next post will have more on this.

Each winter morning January 2019 I left our ocean side condo to walk the beach, taking equipment according to a whim. For this series I used the Sony Alpha 700 with a variable lens. In this first shot, the watchful pose of the hunting Osprey is apparent, long glide with head slightly down.

Click any photograph for a larger view.
On the Lookout

Dive!!

Once these hawks entered my dim awareness and their habits understood, with a lot of luck I was able to click the button at the right time. You can see in the previous post, “Fishing Creatures,” how little time elapsed during a dive, the split second opportunity seen in the following photograph.

Committed

Wow, that is impact. The bird is poised to grab one fish, spotted under the water 50+ feet away, talons extended.

Into the Drink

Success rate? Those days in January, if the Osprey hit the water more than 50% of the time it flew away with a fish.

Our seven year old grandson is an enthusiastic fisherman and might be able to identify this catch. In the distance, on the horizon is Cape Canaveral Air Force Base, the lighthouse and space launch towers .

An image of Osprey / Human closeness. The long lens tends to bring objects closer together, the Osprey is far away from the early morning walkers.

A reader, “ekurie”, in observing Ospreys noticed the catch is oriented to aerodynamic, placed head first toward the direction of flight. The hawk is using the evolutionary adaptations of the fish, to reduce drag in the water, to flying through the air.

This snatch and grab shopper is headed straight home to a nest beyond the shore front condos.

A Well Deserved Meal.
Copyright 2019, Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Iridescent Plumage

shiver me timbers

The third of my postings about the peafowl of Cape Canaveral…..we had our most intimate interactions on a Oak Lane, a small unpaved road off a Circle K (roadside convenience store). At one point a peacock approached Pam on the open windowed passenger side and almost pecked her.

The iridescent coloration is an illusion created by the structure of fine feather elements, called barbules. The impression on peahens varies with viewing angle, between 90 (head on) and 45 degrees to either side. The peacock will shiver his train when faced with a favored peahen. 

Click me for the first post of this series, “Male and Female Peafowl.”

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Train of the Male Peafowl

And some history about the “Peacock Neighborhood” of Cape Canaveral

February is Peafowl mating season and for Cape Canaveral the displays were especially fine. These were captured on a photography expedition via automobile, being especially fortunate in observing peacocks (male peafowl) on high perches oriented perfectly to display the magnificent train (trail).

Here is some information on Reddit from “Mr_mayhem77 “According to locals, the Eberwein family lived between Port Canaveral and what is now the Villages of Seaport. In fact a street is actually named after them (Eberwein Drive) at the northern edge of Cape Canaveral. They had the peafowl among many farm animals. The family moved in 1986 and abandoned the peafowls. Over the years the peafowl have slowly populated our community with the greatest concentration being north of Central Ave.”

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Male and Female Peafowl

Peacock Neighborhood, Cape Canaveral I

On a day February 2022 Pam and I decided to walk the beach starting from Cheri Down Park, Ridgewood Avenue, Cape Canaveral headed north toward Jetty Park hoping to catch a postponed rocket launch rescheduled for that afternoon. We were encouraged to find video news crew positioned near the park entrance as these professionals were in the know for the best spots to watch the spectacle.

We walked a mile or so, more than halfway to Jetty Park, when the word circulated the rocket launch was cancelled. Rather than turn around, we decided to explore the walkway that opens on “Peacock Beach” as Google Map listed a public parking space there, quite a bit closer to Jetty Park. This park charges a hefty entrance fee to non-residents, so we were parking at Cheri Down, we saved $10 for each mile walked.

Having leisure, we decided to walk back to Cheri Down the long way. In what turned out to be a 1.7 mile stroll we encountered these residents for which the beach is named. Then and there Pam and I decided to return for a dedicated photography expedition, the results of which I will share over several posts.

Click Me for the next post of this series, “Train of the Male Peafowl”

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved