Sunday, January 6, 2019

Pic of the Day

Green-backed Heron, Butorides virescens

      Over New Years I was at Merritt Island NWR.  I arrived on the refuge before sunrise and drove along Black Point Wildlife Drive looking for birds to photograph.  I found this Green-backed Heron perched on a shrub.  With the sun still below the horizon I increased the ISO on my camera to 3200.  This allowed me to increase my shutter speed to 1/250 of a second.  As I photographed the heron it turned its head, raised its crest, and stretched its neck into a perfect pose.  A wonderful start to the day.

Nikon D800, Nikkor 500mm f/4, 1/250 second @ f/8, ISO 3200

Friday, January 4, 2019

Pic of the Day

 Alignment of Moon, Jupiter, Venus, and Mercury
January 1st, 2019

                                         Alignment of Moon, Jupiter, Venus, and Mercury
                                                      identified with Mercury magnified
                                                 (both images best viewed when enlarged)

     Mercury is always hard to spot.  Especially where I live, here in North Alabama.  But on January 1st, 2019, I was on the causeway between Titusville, Florida and Merritt Island NWR awaiting the rising sun.  The sky was dark, the waning moon shown bright, but so did two bright planets.  I assumed the planets to be Venus, and Jupiter and when I checked the positions of the two planets I discovered I was correct.  But, I also saw from the chart that Mercury was in the morning sky, below Jupiter and very low to the horizon (as always).   Sure enough, I found it just above the horizon in the glow of dawn. I used binoculars to find Mercury, but once found I could easily see it with the naked eye.
     I was so excited!  The last time I remember seeing Mercury was at least 50, maybe 52 years ago.  An exception of course was the Mercury transit on November 10, 1973.  Mercury was easy to see as it crossed the face of the Sun. (with filters of course).  
     I quickly set up my tripod to take a photo of the event.  I did a number of exposures and settled on this one to post.  The first image shows the moon and all three planets, but mercury is hard to see in the wide-angle shot as it is much dimmer than Venus and Jupiter.  If you can view the image full screen you can see Mercury half way between the left side of the image and the middle of the image in line with the clouds on the horizon. In the second image I have enlarged Mercury, and named each of the planets and moon.  Mercury is inside the white circle.
What a great way to start the New Year.  I hope its not another 50 years before I see Mercury again!  By the way, Florida has a great horizon line for seeing Mercury. Lucky Floridians.
     If you’re interest, Mercury will transit the Sun on November 11, 2019.  The entire transit will be visible from the eastern half of the United States and most of it visible from the entire continent. The transit will last over 5 hours, very long for a transit.
     If I am lucky enough to see this transit it will be my last.  Though there are two more transits, one on November 13, 2032 and another on November 7, 2039 neither will be visible from the North America.  The next transit visible from North American that will be, May 7, 2049. 

Camera: Nikon D800, Lens: Nikkor 16-80mm, f/2.8-4   set at 16mm
Exposure:  2 seconds @ f/5.6,  on tripod 

Friday, October 19, 2018

Pic of the Day

Snowy Egret, Egret hula

Snowy Egret taken in April at the Saint Augustine Alligator Farm.
Nikon D800, Nikkor 500mm f.4, 1/800 sec. @ f5.6, on tripos

Thursday, September 6, 2018

2017 Total Solar Eclipse

August 21, 2017 Total Solar Eclipse
Photos taken on Center Line near the point of
Greatest Eclipse in Hopkinsville, KY

Sunday, July 15, 2018

House Finch, Haemorhous mexicanus
Winfred Thomas Agricultural Research Station
Hazel Green, Alabama

     I was out at the A&M Farm this morning at 7:30 hoping to see some activity, but much to my surprise there was not a lot moving until about 9:00.  Once things got going the Grass Hopper Sparrows, and Dickcissels were pouring their hearts out in song.  While the sparrows and dickcissels were singing, the few House Finches I saw were busy eating grass seeds.  I photographed this finch along the fence line at the east end of the farm.

Nikon D800, Nikkor 500mm f/4, 1/1000 second @ f/8

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Pick of the Day

Least Tern, Sternula antillarum; Least Tern Colony; Gulfport, Mississippi
     On a hot June morning I spent the morning lying on the sand under a hide photographing when the male flew in and fed this day old chick.  Once the fish was down the gullet, the chick turned and ran to its mother and snuggled up under her wing.  A few seconds later the chick poked it head from under its mothers wing to give me this intimate portrait.  

Nikon D800, Nikkor 500mm f/4, 1/400second @ f/20

Friday, July 13, 2018

Pic of the Day

Dickcissel, Spiza Americana;
Winfred Thomas Agricultural Research Station:
Hazel Green, AL.  USA

     Yesterday morning I took a drive out to Alabama A&M’s Winfred Thomas Agricultural Research Station just south of Hazel Green, Alabama to see if I could find some birds to photograph.  Fortunately there were lots of birds.  Dickcissels, pictured here, Scissor-tailed Flycatchers, Grasshopper Sparrows, Eastern Meadowlarks, Blue birds, and Tree Swallows were everywhere.  This was only my third trip to the research station, and my first early morning trip.  I was quite happy with the photos and will make another jaunt to this avian paradise very soon.  Hope you enjoy the photo.

Nikon D800, Nikkor 500mm f/4, Exposure 1/1000th second @ f/7.1

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Pic of the Day

Black-throated Green Warbler, Setophaga Virens; Magee Marsh, Ohio

Nikon D800, Nikkor 500mm  f/4, Exposure 1/1600 sec. @ f/8

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Pic of the Day

Tennessee Warbler, Leiothlypis peregrina:  Magee Marsh, Ohio

                                   Warbling Vireo, Vireo gilvus:  Magee Marsh, Ohio

     With its gray cap, green back and slender bill the Tennessee Warbler is quite a dapper fellow in the tree tops during migration.  This spring I saw an abundance of Tennessee Warblers at Magee Marsh where they stopped to refuel before heading on to their boreal forest breeding grounds. 
     Many people were confusing the Warbling Vireo with this handsome fellow.  Though some may think they look similar, they do look quite different as these two photos show.  The Tennessee has that sleek thin beak where the Warbling Vireo as a stout hooked beek.  The dark eyeline and green back of the Tennessee is also absent in the vireo.
     They are not just different in appearance, but very different in behavior as well.  The Warbling Vireo methodically moves from branch to branch with a fairly  consistent foraging speed, the Tennessee Warbler on the other hand, moves like lighting in comparison.  This behavior easily separates the two species.

     Of course, I love photographing both, and though I have just returned from Magee Marsh I am already dreaming of next spring.  But in the mean time, I’ll prepare to photograph these lovely jewels on their return migration in the fall. 

Top photo: Nikon D800, Nikkor 500mm f/4, 1/320 sec. @ f/6.3
Bottom photo: Nikon D800, Nikkor 500mm f/4, 1/640 sec. @ f/8