Pied Kingfisher: Mabamba Marsh, Lake Victoria, Uganda, August 2022 — There are 15 different species of Kingfishers in Uganda, and in our 14 days of travel we saw 9 of them…but the most numerous and widespread has to be the Pied Kingfisher. They were pretty much everywhere, along every lake and river…and they were present in what can only be described as “large” numbers. Several times we saw trees or bushes with more that 10 birds perched together, and they were so common hovering over water while hunting that after a while it would have seemed more strange not to see a Pied Kingfisher than to see one. And they are hard to miss…about the size of the common North American Belted Kingfisher, and with that bold black and white plumage pattern, and their habits of actively hover hunting over water. Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Pixelmator Photo and Apple Photos. ISO 250 @ f4 @ 1/500th.
Tawas Point State Park is apparently a popular put-in spot for sailing catamarans. There were 30 or more sailing a circle coarse off the head of the point on the Lake Huron side. And it was a glorious day to be on the water. This is a telephoto shot, reaching out to isolate the boats between the glitter of the water and the piled sky.
Sony HX90V in-camera HDR. 505mm equivalent field of view. Nominal exposure 1/1000th @ ISO 80 @ f6.3. Processed in Lightroom.
“Maine: the way life is supposed to be.” State motto. 🙂 Or at least what it says on the welcome sign on I95 when you cross the Kittery Bridge from New Hampshire. I have been waiting all fall so far for a sky like this over the foliage. Sky the way it is supposed to be. Fall the way it is supposed to be. I stood by this lake, Old Falls Pond on the Mousam River, for over an hour waiting for a spot of sunlight to break through and light the foliage, but I had to settle, in the end, for indirect light. Still, pretty good! And the sky is not devoid of interest. 😉
Sony HX400V at 24mm equivalent. In-camera HDR with the level set to 6 EV and -2/3rd EV exposure compensation. Processed in Lightroom on my Surface Pro 3 tablet.
It has been a good fall in Maine, despite a week of wind and rain at just the wrong time. We lost some of the early color so that when I returned from a week of travel I thought, from the evidence right around home, inside the tidal zone, that fall had passed me by. A photoprowl inland cured me of that misapprehension. Even 10 miles from the coast, the full color show is on.
This is Old Falls Pond, which some of you have already seen this week in another view. I photograph the pond in all seasons, but it is especially attractive in autumn. This view, with the bright bush in the foreground, the fog over the water, the wispy clouds and reflections, and the line of vivid foliage across the way makes a dynamic composition with a lot to look at.
Samsung Smart Camera WB800F. Rich Tone mode (in-camera HDR). Processed in Snapseed on the Nexus 7.
And for the Sunday Thought. I have 100s of images of Old Falls Pond taken over the past 5 years. I have probably shared 10 or more just from various autumns. This view is only a variation on the theme…taken only moments and yards from other popular images…and yet I was so compelled to try the effect of the bright bush in the foreground that I actually went looking for it.
I don’t think I will ever tire of trying to capture the beauty of Old Falls Pond in fall. And I think that is a good thing. I think when I can no longer find beauty I am compelled to share in Old Falls Pond in its autumn splendor, when I stop looking for new angles and stop seeing the possibilities in new skies, then…well then something essential will have died in me. I don’t think that is going to happen.
It won’t happen because I fully intend to find and share the beauty of everyday, every season, everywhere I am. As I have said often in these Sunday posts, that is my act of worship…my homage to the Creator, the way I express my love, my gift back to the one who has gifted me with life…with eyes to see and a heart to feel and a mind to make sense of it all..with a spirit that can participate in the on-going act of living, loving, creation that is all we know and are.
So I expect you will see other views yet of Old Falls Pond in fall…for as long as I can get there. Happy Sunday!
There are a few places locally that bring out the best in the autumn color. It is early yet, but this time of year is when the birding festival circuit heats up again and, this year, I have no weekends free at all in October, so I have been trying to fill myself with early fall color, just in case.
And there is no where more reliable for color than Old Falls Pond on the Mousam River. Add an autumn sky overhead to reflect in the water and frame the shot with a fringe of turning leaves and it is a sight to behold, and a joy to capture.
Samsung Smart Camera WB800F in Rich Tone Mode (HDR). Processed in Snapseed on the Nexus 7.
And for the Sunday Thought. Someone posted a slightly malicious comment on my new adventure over at gobirding.us overnight. Something about my having too much time on my hands since I was running too many boring and redundant blogs. This gentleman has posted similar, just slightly nasty, comments on this page in the past. Hurtful. Intended to hurt. I can generally roll on past them, and I will this one, but that too much time on my hands remark hits home…and not , probably, in the way the writer intended. I have never been more aware of just how little time I have on my hands. I am, for the first time in my life, seriously thinking about retirement, looking ahead and counting the years I might have left, and wondering how best to redeem them. What will I do when I can do what I want, at least to the extent my retirement budget allows? How many more falls will I be able to get out to photograph the autumn leaves? Etc.
I can not, of course, know, but I do know, in a way that is new to me (and as old as mankind) that they are limited. Finite. Numbered, perhaps in the single digits. I can, and do, of course, hope. I hope for lots more falls. I hope for the health to enjoy them…but one thing I know is that I do not have too much time on my hands.
And that is somehow an appropriate Sunday Thought, here in the autumn of the year. I would like to go out like a New England fall, full of bright color under amazing skies. I hope my work over at gobirding.us is just the early fall show, and that the real season of brilliance is still to come. And I have a faith, as well as a reasoned confidence based on all my experience in life so far, that my time is in the hands of one who has all the time there is.
So, today, I will do my best to enjoy and celebrate what is…today, the early fall color at Old Falls Pond, and the changing foliage framing an infinite sky. Happy Sunday!
Boats on the water at the Federsee in Bad Bacheu, Germany. We also saw a rare Feruginous Duck, lots of Great Crested Grebes, damselflies and one very large dragonfly. Great place! It is one of the very few places in Germany where a boardwalk allows relatively close views of birds and bugs 🙂
Samsung Smart Camera WB250F in Rich Tone (HDR) mode. Processed in PicSay Pro on the Samsung Galaxy S4.
We have had every kind of summer weather England has to offer at Rutland Water in the past 3 days. In fact most days we have had them all in a single day 🙂 This is a sweep pano showing the little cove where the optics tent (on the left, I am here for the British Birding Fair) is located, around to the Anglican Water Bird Center on the right. It is typical English weather. About to rain or just finished raining.
Still this is a view that has a lot to interest in any weather.
Samsung Smart Camera WB250F. Sweep panorama mode. Processed on the Google Nexus 7 in PicSay Pro.
And for the Sunday thought. I know how blessed I am to be here in England to experience the beauty of these days at Rutland Water. And this, my birthday week, I realize how blessed I am to be here on Earth to experience the beauty of this life. I am not sure I give enough back, but I am sure this is part of what I have to give: these images and these musings.
Several of the field trips at the Potholes and Prairies Birding Festival in Carrington North Dakota seem to end the day at the same spot: the little rise overlooking the end of Mud Lake, where 50-75 pairs of Western Grebes, and few pairs of Clark’s Grebes, have formed a nesting colony. Grebes build floating nests, loosely anchored to reeds and cattails or underwater vegetation. Nest colonies are probably common among Westerns and Clarks, but the Mud Lake colony is the only one I know of. The first shot is of a pair of Western Grebes.
As you see in the second shot, Grebe eggs are among the largest, relative to body size, of any bird. I visited several weeks ago. By now, the colony must be full of zebra striped baby grebes. Because the nest materials slowly sink, the Grebes are always adding new materials to the top of the nest and rearranging the eggs.
Finally we have a Clark’s Grebe on a well hidden nest. Note the line of black on the face is well above the eye, and the bright yellow of the bill (as compared to the greeny-yellow of the Western’s). In the water, the Clark’s gives an impression of a lighter bird overall, gray where the Western is black, but it is hard to see unless you have the two species side by side.
Canon SX50HS in Program with my usual modifications. 1800mm equivalent flied of view. Processed in Lightroom.
This is the accidental prairie/marsh formed when they built out the last section of the coast of the Netherlands in the 70s. Today it is home to an ancient breed of horse, recreated ancient cattle, Red Deer, foxes, and a few hundred species of birds…as well as being a major stop-over site on the European migration for many more. It is essential Holland, reclaimed from the sea-bed, cut by canals, backed up against a large inland lake, right on the edge of the sea. A beautiful place.
The weather while I was there was typical Dutch summer weather, with fronts coming through continuously: bouts of rain, sometimes heavy, and then periods of sun under skies straight out of a painting by Jacob van Ruisdael.
I felt blessed to be there, even when caught in a sudden downpour, even when the umbrella turned inside out.
These shots are with, of course, the Canon SX40HS. The top one was taken through the very dirty glass of an observation tower on the refuge, and I learned just how good the spot-removal tool is in Lightroom. It is very good!
1) 24mm equivalent field of view. f4 @ 1/1000th @ ISO 125. 1) 2 frame panorama, stitched in PhotoShop Elements. 24mm equivalent shots. f5 @ 1/1250th @ ISO 200. Processed in Lightroom for intensity, clarity, and sharpness.
And for the Sunday thought…well, it is going on 10PM here in Holland after a full day of work, workshops, and some birding and photography, and slightly too much good Chinese food. I am feeling decidedly spiritual in the sense of blessed and grateful, but my mind is too tired to make much more of it than that. I have an early train ride to the airport and then the long trans-Atlantic flight home, so I am thinking mostly of packing and getting some sleep. It has been, however, a great Sunday, and I hope yours was too!
As I mentioned, I am in the Netherlands for a few days for the Dutch Birdfair. It is at the Oostvaardersplassen in Lelystad, and Lelystad is a new town on land only reclaimed from the sea in the 70s. The Oostvaardersplassen (east fisherman’s ponds) is a large expanse of newly flooded land (again, the 70s) which is adjacent to Lelystad and which has developed into a world class bird refuge. I barely got to the edge of it today, walking from my hotel on too little sleep and without adequate hydration, but it is certainly impressive.
Right across from the hotel, which is actually the barracks buildings for the workers who diked and drained the land in the 70s, is the yacht basin (or one of the yacht basins) for Lelystad. It seems like at least half the people in Holland have a boat…no…not really, but there are sailing boats of all kinds and all sizes docked near the hotel. I am pretty sure the boats above are traditional canal barges.
The highlight of the trip so far, however, has to be the butterflies. Totally unexpected. I saw at least three today that are new to me (not surprising as it is my first trip to Holland).
I have not had time to look them up yet. This is the first one. Maybe one of you can help with the IDs.
And we will finish with a view of the Oostvaardersplassen itself (or at least a smallish section of it).
That tiny white speck by the trees on the left is the blind I walked to today.