Saturday, April 22, 2017

Earth Day 2017

I love you Earth

Earth is beautiful,
You is beautiful,
I is beautiful,
Sky is beautiful,
Land is beautiful,
Ocean is beautiful,
Plant is beautiful,
Animal is beautiful,
Insect is beautiful,
Bird is beautiful.

The world rejoices

Monday, March 27, 2017

Early spring delights

A quiet and peaceful walk around the trails of the North Carolina Botanical Garden revealed some early blooms and foragers.

The pretty goblet-like cups of Carolina Silverbells.

A bumble bee seeking nectar from the Silverbells.

A delicate and nearly ephemeral early Iris.

A trillium in lovely ruby and green variegated colors.

And an amusing surprise awaited along one of the trails.

A whimsical woodland creature, out and about, enjoying nature as much as me.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

2016 A Photographic log, Part II

Frittalaria, North Carolina Botanical Garden, Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Wild Maine blueberries, Acadia National Park, Maine

Rain forest, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee

White-marked tussock moth caterpillar (Orgyia leucosstigma)
Holly Springs, North Carolina

Shasta daisy, Holly Springs, North Carolina

Trillium grandiflorum, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina

Mark Island lighthouse, Winter Harbor, Maine

Fall migrating Monarch butterfly, Holly Springs, NC

Mountain stream, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee

Prickly pear cactus bloom, Holly Springs, North Carolina

Shelf fungus on a log, Acadia National Park, Maine

Yellow-bellied slider, American Tobacco Trail, Durham, North Carolina

Tiny cabin, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee

Black rat snake, American Tobacco Trail, Durham, North Carolina

A tree root hugging an oval rock, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee

Saturday, March 18, 2017

2016 A Photographic Log, Part I

Great blue heron and turtles, American Tobacco Trail, Durham, North Carolina

Cosmos, Holly Springs, North Carolina

Storm over the Great Smoky Mountains, Tennessee

A leaf slowing giving up its chlorophyll to autumn, Holly Springs, North Carolina

Dendrobium Orchid, Holly Springs, North Carolina

 Elk, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina

 Fog rolling in from the Atlantic Ocean at Schoodic Point, Acadia National Park, Maine

 Fall migrant, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Holly Springs, North Carolina

Frye pond, Massachusetts

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee

Spider orb web in the morning light showing the supporting threads for the radials and iridescence, Holly Springs, North Carolina

 Willets and chicks, Cape Hatteras National Seashore, North Carolina

Tide Pool, Acadia National Park, Maine

Mountain stream, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee

Circumhorizontal arc, Holly Springs, North Carolina

Monday, January 23, 2017

My morning buddy

One morning, on the way to work, I spotted him while stopped at a light on a busy intersection.

He was at the top of a utility pole busily poking at it. His red head struck me as it shone bright in the morning sun not unlike that of the red stoplight.

Suspecting it was a woodpecker because of holes I saw in the side of the pole and the way he perched at the top, I attempted to identify the species as soon as I could. After doing a web search, the ID came swiftly as images matching him surfaced. 

He's rightly called a Red-headed woodpecker.

He became my morning buddy as he seemed have a routine just like me. I would pull up, wait at the light or drive on through the intersection, and there he'd be - same time, same place.

I often saw him atop the same pole or the pole diagonally across the intersection but mostly on the one I originally found him. Occasionally, I'd see him fly off into the woods just behind the pole or perch on a high-wire.

Eager to know more about this striking bird, I read up on the species. I was disheartened to learn the Red-headed woodpecker is a near threatened species, perceptively close to endangered.

The bird has declined severely in the past century due to habitat loss and a change to its food supply, acorn and beech nuts. They've adapted to use utility poles for nesting but it's not enough.

I've seen many types of birds in my forays into nature but this woodpecker is the first I've seen of his kind and the only, except for another.

One morning, about  a quarter of a mile where I'd see my buddy, I spotted something small lying on the side of the road. Even though I was a distance away, I could discern the colors of red, black and white. Especially the red. 


As I drove past I could see it was, indeed, a Red-header woodpecker. My heart hit the pavement as did my stomach. The image haunted me all day and I chastised myself for not stopping. I felt I lost something as sure and as enduring as the sunrise.

But a few days later I saw him perched on the top of the pole. Although glad to see him, I wondered if the one I saw lying in the road was his mate or, perhaps, it was him and this one on the pole his mate? I will never know. 

From time to time, I think of that small body lying on the pavement in the morning sun. I think of the decline of the bird, the threats it endures and scold myself for not stopping and burying the bird to bring it some dignity and honor its life.

In the ensuing days, I've kept an eye out for him but see him less and less. The last time I did he flew from the pole into the woods.

Just yesterday, I saw a sign posted on that very piece of land. It read, "VALERO GAS STATION COMING SOON."

Now, there will be even less habitat for this vulnerable woodpecker -- to his loss, our loss and that of the Earth.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Furry frost

About year ago, a day or two after a rain-sleet-snow storm, I noticed that the small tree at the top of the driveway appeared as if it had grown a furry coat.

Heading out to walk my dogs, I took a closer look and was amazed to see a coat of frost with a beautiful needle-like pattern. I suspected it to be hoar frost, which is a common frost that forms in a number of patterns but I had never seen the beautiful needle-like form before.

I stood for awhile taking in the beauty of the delicate pattern of ice crystals. 

After investigation and looking at images I did, indeed, confirm it as hoar frost.

Hoar frost occurs when the surface of objects, here tree branches, are colder than the surrounding air, which is a hundred percent saturated with moisture.

Another wonder of planet Earth.