Thursday, January 19, 2006

Chattahoochee Nature Center

Great Blue Heron
Originally uploaded by PhoebeJ.
I went to Atlanta on business and found myself "shopped out" at the Gift Mart. My flight wasn't leaving until 3:30 PM so I rented a car and took myself to the Chattahoochee Nature Center about 30 miles north of Atlanta. It was a gray day so the lighting wasn't great, but there were some nice birds.

Here's a Great Blue Heron. No trick to taking a decent picture of a GBH (in England GBH means "grievous bodily harm"--but I digress) especially when they are standing still.

I saw a tree with interesting exfoliating bark. My neighbor in Connecticut always likes trees with exfoliating bark because they provide "winter interest." Every profession has its jargon!

Exfoliating Bark

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Bow Bridge

Bow Bridge
Originally uploaded by PhoebeJ.
This is Bow Bridge across the Rowboat Lake in Central Park. Its lovely shape makes it so photogenic that it is hard to take a bad picture of it. It is one of the many things that makes those early morning birdwalks worthwhile even when you don't see any terrific birds. Olmsted and Vaux really knew what they were doing when they designed Central Park. I'm not convinced we've learned much about design since the mid-1800s. But that's for another post!

Monday, January 09, 2006

Dark & Deep

Dark & Deep
Originally uploaded by PhoebeJ.
"The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep."

While it was in the 50s in New York and New Jersey today, it was winter in Connecticut earlier this week. In fact, it got down to 11 degrees in Kent on Friday night.

Whose woods these are, I definitely know. They belong the the White Memorial Foundation, a wildlife refuge of over 4600 acres in Litchfield County. While walking here I found pieces of what I believe is bark that had become translucent in the snow. Here's one piece.


Sunday, January 08, 2006

The New Scanner

Lee in 1933
Originally uploaded by PhoebeJ.
Upon the advice of Cousin Dan, I invested $80 and bought a new scanner from Epson. I've been wanting to scan the old family photos, organize them and burn them to a CD to share with the family.

The scanner is easy to use, but I have a lot (read "everything") to learn about Photoshop Elements that comes with the scanner.

This photo is my father. It's dated 1933 on the back. I have no idea what beach he went to in December of 1933, not the Jersey Shore to be sure. He was in law school in 1933. Winter break perhaps? Where did Harvard boys go in those days? Where were Jewish Harvard boys even welcome in those days? We'll never know!

Sunday, January 01, 2006

New Year's Day Birdwalk

Originally uploaded by PhoebeJ.
I always try to start the year off right with an extended birdwalk. Since I spent the day in New York, Central Park became my venue for the first walk of the year.

It was a gray day, but not very cold. Sometimes these January walks require stoicism and many stops in the cafe in the Boathouse, but today was fairly forgiving. The downside was that it wasn't a great day for photography because the colors were flat.

The highlights were the largest flock of cardinals I have ever seen--perhaps as many as 25--and the Great Horned Owl that has been hanging around Central Park for about 3 weeks.
Great-Horned Owl
The Great Horned is sometimes referred to at a "cat owl" because they look rather like a fat cat sitting in a tree. This one does at the top, but I have other shots where even his tail looks like a cat's tail. Allegedly, the Greated Horned can carry off a small cat, but I imagine Nicholas at 12 lbs. weighs too much. (See Monty Python and the Holy Grail for a discussion of whether a swallow can carry a coconut.) But I digress. I thought I was going to have to consult with other birdwatchers to find this critter, but he was way out in the open. I found a hawk, probably a red-tail, in a tree near the Point and when I went around the Oven to get a better look, I stumbled on the GHO. At one point the hawk, about 2/3 the size of the owl, flew into the same tree but quickly decided to beat a hasty retreat.

There were lots of ducks on the Jackie Onassis Reservoir--buffleheads, ruddies, hooded mergansers. Shovelers on the Rowboat Lake along with Canada geese, a cormorant and mallards.

The rest of the species were "the usual suspects": chickadees, titmice, goldfinches, downy and red-bellied woodpeckers, white-throated sparrows and one lovely fox sparrow.

The year is young--many species to go! And maybe some sunny days for better photographs.