Bench Sitting Nature Watch

a monarch in steady progress south

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On a sunny autumn morning we set out, my soon to be three grandson Sam and I, to the Lime Hollow Nature Center near Cortland for an adventure.  For the first time I brought a newly purchased iPhone 7 instead of the usual slr camera.  The phone can be carried in a pocket and is simpler to us, to allow me to give full attention to Sam.

WillsSamuelJackBenchsitting20181014-1

At the start is a large, today sunlit, field with an “art trail.”  There are various anthropomorphic transformations on the trees and a very large sculpture of a blue face.  Here is a tree from another place near here, to give you an idea.

PumpkinFarmTreeFace2012

I do not point out the tree faces to Sam.  His Mom likes to say he enjoys being frightened and, when the blue face came into view, he turned back and said, “home.”  Sam was mildly anxious, so I carried him and tried to turn him up the trail away from the face.  He turned to keep an eye on it while I assured him it could not move.  This and a climb up a 230 foot hill were the only times he didn’t walk the half mile to a open grassy knoll with a bench.

WillsSamuelJackBenchsitting20181014-2

There we sat for 30 minutes, still and watching, Sam and I talked about our sightings:
1. The sunlit sky of clouds, from a milky blue towards the north to, overhead, a bright robins egg blue.
2. A circling hawk, shadow crossing over us.
3. One blue jay in a maple turning red, loudly calling over and over.
4. A little while after a second jay, landing in a tree turned yellow, drawn in and giving answer.
5. A monarch butterfly’s steady progress south. Such a strong gliding path.
6. A yellow butterfly who did not leave us, fluttering round and round.
7. Four honking Canadian geese flying north east, turned to check out a nearby pond, the returned to the original heading.
8. The sound of wind through the trees, listening to the sound made by each tree.
9. The late season golden rod, now dried gray.
10. A distant chittering red squirrel.
11. Distant peeper frogs in the swamps at the foot of the hill.

Sam did not want to leave the bench, eventually we headed on to the pond the geese checked out.

WillsSamuelJackBenchsitting20181014-3

I used the “panoramic” feature of the iPhone 7 for this shot. On the hill we were sheltered by trees and bushes from the steady northeast wind. Here, on a bench by the pond, that direction was open to the wind. The sun kept us warm. It was clear why the geese did not land, the water surface was deserted, filled only by rippling wind driven waves.

On our walk back we sat on a bench on the edge of the art trail field, the blue face out of sight. A woman, the only other person encountered, emerged from one of the trails cut from the brush, camera in hand. She was collecting images for a Cortland Historical Society publication and asked to take our photograph. “OK,”, I said and gave the story of living here for 25 years in the house on Fall Creek where my son’s family lives now. She replied, “My daughter is in San Francisco. We don’t know who will have our house when we are gone.”

Click me for “Celestial Geese with two haiku by Issa”.

Copyright 2018 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Harvest Views

One October Evening

When Pam and I lived in an converted mill house on Malloryville Road one walk we’d take with cameras was out the front door, turn right and walk the road to the hill top to take in the views.

“October Evening on Fall Creek Farmland”

Ripe corn on Malloryville Road from a hill above the Fall Creek valley.

Click any photograph to visit my OnLine Gallery “Fall Creek Memories.”

“Into the Distance”

Fall Creek Valley view from Malloryville Road looking southwest.  In the far distance is Connecticut Hill.  You can see the towers of Ithaca College from here, but not in this photograph.

“Harvested Field”

Another from this Harvest View evening.  Click the link to go there.

“Celestial Geese”

“Antique Silo Apple Harvest?”

 

Copyright 2018 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Celestial Geese with two haiku by Issa

Celestial Geese

None of Them Come Down

To My Pine

~Kobayashi Issa

Click any photograph view my Finger Lakes Memory gallery

The Bright Moon

In Raindrops from the Eves

The Geese Depart

~Kobayashi Issa

Other postings this evening. Click the link to go there.

“Harvest Views”

“Antique Silo Apple Harvest”

Copyright 2018 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Man of War Beach Walk

Beauties and Dangers Encountered During a Walk on the Beach

Yesterday, I submitted to Getty a set of beach photographs featuring abstract nature patterns and do not yet have the approval. The same images were published on my Fine Art Gallery. Click this link or any photograph to visit my Textures Abstracts Patterns fine art gallery.

Setting off from the International Palms Resort Pam and I turned left, walking toward the pier, about 2.5 miles away. On the left is Lori Wilson (public) Park. One benefit of this location is the life guard station and “protected” swimming. We have reservations about ocean swimming. What is swimming with you?

Headed north on Cocoa Beach – CLICK ME for more abstract photography.

That hotel with the dark windows, on the north side of Lori Wilson Park is the Hilton. This sand castle, washed out by high tide, caught in the dawn light, was in front of the Hilton. It brings to mind the interaction of nature and people.

Washed Out Sand Castle – CLICK ME for more abstract photography.

There were strong on-shore winds that day. Dune grass driven by the wind made this pattern.

Click photo to visit my Fine Art Gallery

Wind Driven Pattern – CLICK ME for more abstract photography.

The wind and tide washed ashore all sorts of man-mad junk.

These small pieces of plastic washes off distant islands by hurricanes, the plastic ground up into bits.

The branded drink holder, the “corn huskers” of the University of Nebraska Lincoln, does not speak well for the alumni as these are sold locally. Community-minded people walk the beach with bags, picking up the bigger stuff.

When the wind changed the small plastic washed out with the next high tide and the beach was cleared.

Debris from Hurricane and Tourists – CLICK ME for more abstract photography.

Corpse of a gull with ground up plastic bits.

Gull Corps – CLICK ME for more abstract photography.

The gull beak has the same cruel beauty in death as it does in life.

Click photo to visit my Fine Art Gallery

Gull Corps – CLICK ME for more abstract photography.

The wind drove ashore living creatures, left them on the beach to dry out or as food for crabs and gulls. After a Man Of War washes up on a beach it is still dangerous. Long tentacles extend from the body and can deliver painful stings.

Beached Man Of War – CLICK ME for more abstract photography.

The person walking around these tentacles is wisely wearing shoes, as I can tell from the footprint shape.

Each such tentacle is threaded with stinging, venom-filled structures coiled, like a spring, ready to pump venom into the victim for the purpose of feeding, catching larval and small fishes and squids.

These structures, called nematocysts fire on contact and do not differentiate targets be it a human foot or a squid.

Click photo to visit my Fine Art Gallery

Man of War with extended tentacles – CLICK ME for more abstract photography.

The crest of the Portuguese Man of War is very visible in the water, the sac can be inflated/deflated to catch the wind or even sink the organism to escape surface feeders. The fanciful resemblance of the floating crest to a sailing ship is the origin of the organism’s popular name. The scientific name is Physalia physalis. While it appears to be a single creature, it is actually several working together for common benefit.

Named After Sailing Ships – CLICK ME for more abstract photography.

We talked with life guards about first aid procedure, for the stings, and were not comforted by their ignorance. We had done the research ourselves. Be informed before you step onto the beach. Do not expect well informed assistance in the case of a sting, pre-arm yourself with knowledge.

Click photo to visit my Fine Art Gallery

Life guards were not knowledgeable – CLICK ME for more abstract photography.

This is an especially dangerous configuration of a beached Man O’ War (also known at Floating Terror): a blue balloon with strings trailing from it. Young children will see the balloon and want to grab or play with it. If we see tourist families with young children, when these are around, we will go out of our way to warn them.

Dangerous fun balloon configuration – CLICK ME for more abstract photography.

These disconcerting findings on the beach do not diminish our enjoyment of the environment, instead we are left with a greater appreciation and respect for the ocean.

Dunes welcome us home after a successful sunrise photo shoot.

Click photo to visit my Fine Art Gallery

Glowing Dunes at Sun rise – CLICK ME for more abstract photography.

Please browse my reasonably priced stock photography. License a photograph, download and use it for your website or blog. Click this link to browse all my Getty IStock Photography offerings.

Or click this link or any photograph or this link to select a print with custom framing from my “Textures” Fine Art Gallery.

Offering of Black Skimmer Photographs

Looking for the perfect photo for your web site and blog?

Looking for the perfect photo for your web site and blog?

Browse my reasonably priced stock photography.

License the photo, download and use it.

Click this link for my recently published Black Skimmers Feeding photographs. This link will open a new page to display my Black Skimmer photographs on Getty IStock.

These are different and higher quality images from my posting of earlier this week.

Or

Click this link to browse all my Getty IStock Photography offerings.

Copyright 2018 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Lady Feeding Gulls, Cocoa Beach Dawn

unflappable lady hand feeds seagulls

When my wife read my post “Black Skimmers Feeding” she asked, “Where is the photo of resting Skimmers?”

To answer her question I looked through Cocoa Beach photographs and discovered I did NOT capture the Skimmers resting.  Instead, here are a related species, the Royal Tern (scientific name: Thalasseus maximus), whose behavior is similar in that it exclusively feeds from the water. There was a wind that morning and these individuals face into it.  These birds are, from a human point of view, well behaved, unlike the opportunistic gull.

Royal Terns at rest – CLICK ME for more Florida photography.

I searched around the web for identification of this gull without success.

Scavenging Gull – CLICK ME for more Florida photography.

It dines on a dead fish washed up by the surf.  In my previous posting I used the word “grifting” to describe gull behavior, again this is from the human point of view.  Gulls are notorious for stealing food from unwary beach goers, brazening walking over to unguarded chips (any kind), for instance, grabbing them and flying off.  If the chip stash is large, this sets off a nasty feeding frenzy when tens of gulls swoop in and grab.

Here is a series of photographs, demonstrating this behavior.

Click this link or any image in this article for my Fine Art Gallery from Florida.

The dawn flowed over Cocoa Beach as a lady attracted a crowd of hungry gulls, reminiscent of scenes from Hitchcock’s “The Birds.”

Lady and Gulls – CLICK ME for more Florida photography.

She is obviously an experienced gull feeder, unflappable with a steady hand.

Lady and Gulls – CLICK ME for more Florida photography.

She had come to the shore at dawn for a photo shoot.  Her male companion (husband?) was there with a camera.

Lady and Gulls – CLICK ME for more Florida photography.

Pam and I were there for the dawn, me with the Sony camera.
Lady and Gulls – CLICK ME for more Florida photography.

At first, I stood there amazed at the spectacle.  She was in such control of the situation, not a victim, more like a lion tamer.

Then, Pam said, “You have to get this.”  And I did.

Copyright 2018 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Black Skimmers Feeding

An early morning revelation

Today, I published six fine art prints from this photo session. Click this link for any photograph to visit my new Florida Gallery.

One early morning, just after dawn, Cocoa Beach, Florida, I had a revelation.  My wife and I walk the beach four or more miles each day we are lucky enough to be in Florida for the winter.  Yes, we are “snow birds” who flee the snows of New York for a few weeks, now and then.
Viewing Platform with Sheep – CLICK ME for more Ireland photography.

We love to catch the sunrise together, have breakfast, pull together a lunch for a long walk.  We catch the passing beach scenery, find a place to enjoy our meal, and return late afternoon.

The Black Skimmer (Scientific Name: Rynchops niger) literally stands out from the gulls.  The individuals gather together in a large group.  If there is a wind, most group members face into it.  They are aloof and dignified, unlike the gulls who grift for food, obnoxious and bothersome if you make the mistake of throwing a gull a morsel.

Viewing Platform with Sheep – CLICK ME for more Ireland photography.

Black Skimmers are just as large a gulls.  Slender, tern-like, black and white bodies.  Recognize a Black Skimmer from the colorful red of the base of the bill.  If you view my Fine Art versions, notice the lower mandible is much longer.

 

Viewing Platform with Sheep – CLICK ME for more Ireland photography.

 

My early morning revelation was how the Black Skimmer feeds, flying just above the surf, the lower mandible extended to fish by feel.  Unless you beach walk early mornings, you will be most familiar with the habit of grouping together, facing into the wind. I captured this individual, a member of a larger group, just after sunrise, on Cocoa Beach. It was just me and the Skimmers.

Viewing Platform with Sheep – CLICK ME for more Ireland photography.

Their feeding is successful enough to allow them to longue on the beach most of the day.  I have only seen them feed early mornings.  Here is another part of their feeding behavior.  They feed as a group in long sweeping lengths.  At the end, they turn as a group and head the other way.  Here are three Black Skimmers in a turn.

Viewing Platform with Sheep – CLICK ME for more Ireland photography.

One morning, after our sunrise view, I pulled together my photography kit for this successful photo shoot.  Enjoy!!

Copyright 2018 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved