Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to my U.S. friends!

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Wild Turkey, Black Hills, South Dakota
(taken August 2016)

Enjoy your day, and please be safe if you’re traveling the highways.

 

November 2016 Supermoon

Each year, November’s full moon is called the Beaver Moon.  Algonquin Native American tribes as well as American colonists called it the Beaver Moon because “this was the time to set beaver traps before the swamps froze, to ensure a supply of warm winter furs,” according to the Old Farmer’s Almanac.

Tonight’s Beaver Moon was also the long-awaited Supermoon, the largest moon in 69 years.  The most spectacular Supermoon since 1948, it appeared 14 percent bigger and 30 percent brighter than usual.  Nothing will match it until the moon makes a similar approach on November 25, 2034.

I couldn’t set up for a location and so tried my luck from our campsite.  When it first appeared, it was bright and golden.

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Fooling around with different ideas, I caught this next shot I thought was neat.

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I waited five hours after the Supermoon rose and tried my luck once more.  I processed this one in black and white.

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It was fun and challenging, and that’s what photography is all about!

I had practiced this past week where I had a little better luck.  The next photo was taken a few days ago on November 10, 2016.

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I am excited to see everyone else’s moon photos.  Many put a lot of thought into the time and location; and I know there are going to be some awesome captures.

Thank you for taking a little peek at mine…..   🙂

 

Birding in South Carolina

Autumn is just beginning here at Lake Greenwood, with the trees transforming into bold colors of yellow, orange, and red.  I’m waiting for the group of trees across the lake to fire up….fingers crossed.

I headed down to the lake’s edge in the last hour before sunset.  The House Finches were busy, dangling upside down in the Sweet Gum Tree, eating from the tree’s seed pods (popularly called monkey balls or gumballs).

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Male House Finch

 

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Male House Finch – “Peek-A-Boo!”

 

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Female House Finch

However, a Red-winged Blackbird just pulled the seed pod up with his feet for his feast.  To heck with all that dangling!

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Red-winged Blackbird

Sightings of other birds…….

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Northern Mockingbird

 

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Tufted Titmouse

 

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Pine Warbler

 

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Northern Flicker enjoying a few sips from the edge of the lake

 

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Ruby-crowned Kinglet (a new lifer for me!)

 

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Cormorant Fly-Over

 

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Female Northern Cardinal

 

We’ve had a few nice sunsets since we’ve been here but none have been as gorgeous so far as this one taken from our site a week ago.

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Sunset over Lake Greenwood

Enjoy your day, my friends!

 

Birding From a Beach Chair on Virginia’s Eastern Shore

Waiting for my scheduled knee surgery, we decided to go to the southern tip of Virginia’s Eastern Shore to spend a few days to pass the time.  We stayed at Sunset Beach Hotel and RV Campground that is along the bay side and has direct beach access.

With the summer season gone and the resort not busy just yet with the surge of visitors for the upcoming 24th Eastern Shore Birding & Wildlife Festival, it was a beautiful time of year for the beginning of the Chesapeake’s major fly-way southern migration.  Just north of us was Kiptopeke’s hawk observatory that is among the top 15 nationwide. I couldn’t make the trek to the observatory and had to settle for my beach chair.  That was okay, I enjoyed being the only ones sitting on the beach.  Just hubby, me and my camera.

Here’s my collection from those few days.

The Brown Pelicans and Cormorants were in full force every day.

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Brown Pelicans and Cormorants chillin’ with me

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Brown Pelican

A Great Blue Heron stopped by.  As far as I was from him, he still kept his eye on me.

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Great Blue Heron

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Great Blue Heron

Of course, there were a few exciting fly-bys…..

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Cooper’s Hawk

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American Bald Eagle

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Merlin (a new lifer for me!)

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Willet

Back to the shoreline……

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Sanderling

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Willet

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Willet

Even the little crabs were out and about….

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I was very excited to watch Osprey fishing each day!

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Osprey

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Osprey looking for a fish to snag!

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Osprey

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Osprey

We took a drive into Cape Charles.  I shot these next photos of interest from the truck window.

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Cape Charles

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Common Buckeye

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Juvenile Yellow-crowned Night Heron (another lifer!)

All in all, these sightings during our few days to Virginia’s Eastern Shore helped ease my pain and worry about the surgery.  I even made it down to the beach to capture a sunset from our golf cart.

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I’m recovering well now thanks to all your prayers!  We’re in South Carolina soaking up the warmer rays, and I’ve just begun some birding again.  Yay!

Nature has it’s way of making us feel better. 🙂

Rocky Mountain Goats

This past August after leaving Mount Rushmore and traveling along Highway 89 in the Black Hills, we stopped at a highway turn-out for some photos.  Looking at the beauty of the landscape and odd rock formations as well as searching for wildlife, it was then that I spotted several Rocky Mountain Goats just hanging out below and to my right on the rocky granite cliffs.

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Rocky Mountain Goats are not native to South Dakota.  In 1924, six of these goats were gifted to nearby Custer State Park by the Canadian government.  Excellent climbers, those six goats quickly escaped their penned area and headed to the craggy granite core of the Black Hills for refuge.

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Today, their primary range now extends over 32,000 acres at elevations from about 4,000 feet to over 7,200 feet.

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Once fall and winter approach, the Rocky Mountain Goat’s fur coat will grow longer and quite shaggy to protect them from the elements.

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Rocky Mountain Goats are grazing animals.  Their diet includes grasses, herbs, sedges, ferns, moss, lichen, and shrubs.

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As I watched and shot some wonderful photo ops, the goats skillfully climbed and stood on sides of granite as if it was no accomplishment.  It was quite amazing!

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The Rocky Mountain Goat has been part of regulated hunting through the years since their arrival, but it was stopped in 2007 due to a noticeable decline in population.  This year marks the reopening of the Rocky Mountain Goat hunting season September 1 – December 31 after being closed for the past nine years.

I was disappointed to find out that information.  They are too cute to shoot, except with a camera!  By the time I stopped photographing them, there was a crowd of people around me, watching and laughing and totally enjoying these unique animals.  I am certain they would all agree with me.

Hopefully, this small group of goats has been outsmarting the hunters! 🙂

Happy 75th Anniversary Mount Rushmore

Located in the Black Hills of South Dakota and carved into a 5,725 foot high mountain of granite, Mount Rushmore National Memorial features the faces of our U.S. Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln.  This year Mount Rushmore celebrated it’s 75th anniversary on October 31st.

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Carving began on October 4, 1927 by Sculptor Gutzon Borglum.  More than 90% was carved using dynamite, the rest by jackhammers and hand chisels.  Borglum hired approximately 30 men at a time to assist his creation, totaling more than 400 individuals by completion.  Would you believe, each worker had to climb 700 stairs every morning to punch a time clock.  Whew!

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To give you a perspective of size, George Washington’s head is 60 feet tall, with a 20 foot nose, an 18 foot wide mouth, and each eye is 11 feet across.  At these proportions, if George’s entire body was carved, he’d have been as tall as a 40-story building.

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First President George Washington

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Third President Thomas Jefferson and 26th President Theodore Roosevelt

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16th President Abraham Lincoln

Actually, the original carvings were to be Wild West heroes to include explorers Lewis & Clark, Buffalo Bill Cody, and Sioux Chief Red Cloud.  But Borglum was inspired to due something more of a national significance.

Washington was chosen to represent our country’s founding, Jefferson for growth (purchasing of the Louisiana Territory, doubling our country’s size), Roosevelt for development (the National Park Service and the Panama Canal), and Lincoln for preservation (served during the Civil War and credited for keeping our country united).

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For 18 months, Thomas Jefferson’s face was on Washington’s right, but undetected fractures in the rock caused the stone to be too weak.  Borglum was forced to change his design to put Jefferson on Washington’s left.  This change actually provided Washington’s profile to show perfectly from one pull-over location along Highway 244.

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In 1937, a bill was introduced to Congress to propose social reformer and women’s suffrage activist, Susan B. Anthony’s face to be added to the Memorial.  Unfortunately, the proposal fell through due to limited federal funds.

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Although the carving was not complete, early in 1941 Congress cut all funding for Mount Rushmore.  Sculptor Borglum died a week later.  His son, Lincoln Borglum, oversaw some final touches throughout the rest of the year on his own to best complete his father’s masterpiece.  Congress then declared the monument complete October 31, 1941.

However, per Gutzon Borglum before his death, it was not yet complete.  Borglum specifically calculated three extra inches on all the face features to allow for natural weathering.  He had stated, “Three inches would require 300,000 years to bring the work down to the point that I would like to finish it.  In other words, the work will not be done for another 300,000 years, as it should be.”

From 1927 to 1941, the total cost to carve Mount Rushmore was $989,992.32, mostly paid from the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

What an awe-inspiring, magnificent work of art for visitors to see year-round.

 

Black-billed Magpie

I’ve marveled at photos of others of the flashy Black-billed Magpie.  Not seen on the East Coast, this species is widespread in towns, fields, and stream corridors of the West.

Their bold, contrasting plumage and glossy blue/green iridescence on their wings are unmistakable.  I saw my first Magpie in Utah; and as we moved north on our road trip, they were a common sight to my delight.

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Black-billed Magpies are a relative of Jays and Crows but slightly larger.

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They’re also vocal birds and keep up a regular stream of raucous calls.

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One of the most interesting Black-billed Magpie behaviors is the so-called “funeral”. When one Magpie discovers a demised Magpie, it begins calling loudly to attract other Magpies.  The gathering of raucously-calling Magpies (up to 40 birds have been observed) may last for 10 to 15 minutes before the birds disperse and fly off silently.

Magpies are social, inquisitive birds that eat fruits, grains, insects, and small animals.

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On their expeditions, Lewis and Clark reported Magpies boldly entering their tents to steal food.

The Magpie is a beauty in flight as well!

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I love photos with fences, so I had to include and share this last photo.

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As you know, it is always a delight for me to get to add another lifer to my bird list!   🙂

 

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