While visiting Sitka, AK, Carol and I went on a marine wildlife excursion hoping to see a whale. Bingo! We enjoyed watching and photographing this beautiful Humpback. I happened to be in the right location on the boat to capture these images. I must say this kid from Mt. Pleasant, TX was duly impressed with seeing such a sea creature.
Whales’ “noses”, or blowholes, are on the top of their heads, so that they can just barely break the surface to breathe without rising too far out of the water. When inhaling, they flex a muscle which opens the blowhole and take in a big gulp of air. Then, they relax the muscle to close the blowhole, leaving them free to dive down beneath the surface of the water once more without drowning themselves.
It’s exhaling that’s the interesting part. When the whale resurfaces, they have to release the used up air back into the atmosphere just like all other mammals do. This results in a spout, but it isn’t water (at least not at first). The air inside the whale is typically quite warm from the whale’s body heat. When it’s exhaled, it meets the much cooler temperature of the air outside and immediately condenses, making it look like a spout of water.
A Humpback Whales fluke (tail) is like a human finger print. The marks on the fluke are unique to that whale. It is the way researchers can identify individual whales and track them each season. Small rounded marks from barnacles, chunks out of the fluke and teeth marks from predators make each tail unique and assist in identification by researchers.
The fluke of an adult Humpback Whale rising out of the water with sea water streaming off it is regarded as one of the best photos you can get and it certainly is impressive on a sunny day.
The first photograph captures an immature Blacked-chinned Humming Bird taking flight from its nest for the first time never to return. After I took the photo, I looked down at the LCD screen on my camera to see the image. Seconds later when I looked back at the nest there was only one Hummer remaining (photo #2). I then spotted the first Hummer perched on a limb in an adjoining tree (photo#3). I continued to monitor and photograph the nest only to find an empty nest several days later (photo#4). “Right Place at the Right Time”
I call the first photo “Leaving Home”; the second photo “Home Alone”; the third photo “My First Perch” and the fourth photo “The Empty Nest”. These Photos were taken in the Riverside RV Park located in Ruidoso, NM
While visiting San Diego, CA, I couldn’t resist photographing the iconic “Kissing Statue” officially named “Unconditional Surrender”. I thought it timely and appropriate to share a few of my photos and a little information about the statue since Glenn McDuffie, the sailor kissing a woman in Times Square in a famous World War II era photo taken by a Life Magazine photographer, died in Dallas on March 9.
The statue was designed by Seward Johnson of New Jersey. It is made of a foam core covered with a urethane outer layer. While on loan to San Diego from 2007 until 2012, the iconic statue was located in Tuna Harbor Park next to Aircraft Carrier Midway Museum. During our visit the statue was dismantled and returned to New Jersey for restoration. A permanent bronze replica now stands in its place next to the museum in San Diego. You should know there is some controversy within the art world as to whether the statue is art. Sarasota Florida also has a replica of the “Unconditional Surrender”.
San Diego being the Headquarters for the United States Pacific Naval Fleet and seeing this statue by the Aircraft Carrier Midway did in fact stir my patriotic emotions.
On the western shore of Penobscot Bay, roughly eight miles northeast of Rockland lies Camden, Maine, a picturesque seaside village at the foot of Camden Hills. Its slogan is “where the mountains meet the sea” and is one of the most beautiful places in New England. Camden is referred to as “The Jewel of the Coast”. We always enjoy visiting this area of New England as well as chumming around with our good friends who reside in nearby Rockport.
A visit to Maine would be incomplete without enjoying a breath taking view from atop Mt. Battie, strolling and dining along Camden’s waterfront, and visiting the Farnsworth Art Museum, which houses the Wyeth Center, in nearby Rockland.
The Old Man of the Mountain was a series of five granite cliff ledges on Cannon Mountain in the White Mountains of New Hampshire near the town of Franconia. When viewed from the north, the rock formation appeared to be the jagged profile of a face.
The first recorded mention of the Old Man was in 1805. It collapsed on May 3, 2003. The first photograph, shot with 35mm film, was taken on October 2, 1998. On a return visit nine years later, the second photo, digital, was taken on August 28, 2007.
The profile has been New Hampshire’s state emblem since 1945. It was put on the state’s license plate, state route signs, and on the Statehood Quarter. The writer Nathaniel Hawthorne used the Old Man as inspiration for his short story “The Great Stone Face”, published in 1850, in which he described the formation as “a work of Nature in her mood of majestic playfulness”.
The Old Man collapsed to the ground between midnight and 2a.m., May 3, 2003. The collapse was due to years of weathering even though efforts to protect and preserve the rock formation have been attempted.
The 18th Annual Whooping Crane Festival was held in Port Aransas, TX the last 4 days. Carol and I were privileged to hear the top crane experts in the world lecture about these magnificent creatures while attending the festival.
The Whooping Crane is the rarest and tallest of all North American birds. It is 5 feet tall and has a wingspan of 7 to 8 feet. The Whooping Crane has been slowly recovering from near extinction of only 15 birds in 1941 to about 270 migratory individuals today. The last naturally occurring population of Whooping Cranes in the world breeds at Wood Buffalo National Park in Canada and migrates more than 2,500 miles to spend the winter on the coastal wetlands near and within Aransas National Wildlife Refuge near Rockport, Texas. They arrive in Texas in the fall and leave in March. The migration takes about 2 to 3 weeks. This population of “Whoopers” is called the Aransas-Wood Buffalo flock. The International Crane Foundation headed by Dr. George Archibald is the leading organization in working for the protection and restoration of the 15 crane species found worldwide. Dr. Archibald was one of the speakers we heard.
Whooping Crane facts: Mate for life; Only one of two species of cranes found on the North American Continent, the Sandhill Crane being the other; Average life span in the wild is 30 years; They never fly at night; The migration route from Buffalo NP to Aransas NWR is approximate 150 miles wide.
In recognition of the Whooping Crane, I though it fitting to share a couple of my Whooping Crane photos.
Maybe this post will inspire you to learn more about the “Whooper” and its plight.
The day after I reached the age of 74 I hiked 1.5 miles one-way up to the arch. The elevation gain from the starting point to the arch was 480′ . Getting up to the arch was quite a challenging hour and half hike across slick-rock following cairns which are little piles of rocks to mark the way. I felt like Hansel and Gretel.
The T.A. Moulton Barn is located in Jackson Hole , WY in an area known as Antelope Flats. This barn is said to be the most photographed barn in America.
Photographers from around the world gather before sunrise to capture the image just as the sunlight hits the tip of the Grand Teton Mountains. Someone shouts “There it is” meaning the sun has just appeared at the very tip of The Grand Teton and everyone starts clicking away for the next 20 or 30 minutes. This is shown in the picture.The morning I was there with 18 other photographers the temperature was a cold crisp 24 degrees.