The Fast & Furious Merlin

Merlins are small, fierce falcons.  They are just slightly larger than the American Kestrel.  I feel fortunate to have sighted this Merlin, who appeared to had already sighted me first.

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Merlins are powerful, fast flyers.  They travel around 30 mph (48 km), but are much faster during a high-speed chase.

Merlins eat mostly small birds.  They typically chase the small bird upwards until it tires, then attack and catch it in midair.

High up on a snag, this Merlin was perched with his prey.

 

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After he gave me a nice smile and profile stance in the next photo……

 

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the Merlin went back to his prey, obviously knowing I was no threat.

 

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Having only photographed a Merlin in flight, it was a pure delight for me to capture this series!

 

It’s Halloween….What Are You Scared Of?

A local newspaper headlined, “It’s Halloween….What Are You Scared Of?”

Me?

SPIDERS!!

I really do have a phobia with spiders.  I will go absolutely crazy with fear if one should happen to land on me or near me.  Trust me.  Ask my husband.  Ask my kids.

A couple days ago, I was going through photo folders and came across shots of two different spiders.  What was I thinking?!!  Well, I was out and about photographing nature, and I guess they both had been odd/interesting, and with a camera in hand each time, well…..I took a few photos.  Not too close mind you.

Then I got the heck away!

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They were both around coastal areas.  The above one was hanging out at a salt marsh.  I can see now why I decided to photograph him as he does look interesting with his shape and colors.

And then there was the BIG one I watched walk out of the Atlantic Ocean surf…..like a scene out of a horror movie.

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The spider walked out of the water that had washed ashore and up on the sand…..towards my direction and chair.  At first, I thought it was a crab……until I got up to further investigate.  Okay, he was interesting too.  As long as he kept his distance and me mine.

Thank goodness he turned direction from my chair!

I’m guessing the ocean spider was already on the sand and somehow got caught in the surf.

I didn’t try to identify either one for you…..I’d have to look at way too many spider photos to try.  Sorry, that is definitely too much for me!   🙂

Are you afraid of spiders?   😉

 

Ruddy Turnstones

A medium-sized colorful sandpiper, Ruddy Turnstones are easily identifiable with their bright orange legs and back’s rufous-color pattern that looks similar to that of a calico cat.

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Ruddy Turnstones are one of the most northerly-breeding shorebird species, breeding during the summer across the Arctic Tundra, from Alaska to Greenland, on Svalbard, and from Scandinavia to Siberia.

These long-distance migrants then spend their winters along the coastlines of the United States, Central America, South America, Australia, Western Europe, Africa, and South Asia.

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To cover those vast distances between their breeding and nonbreeding grounds, Ruddy Turnstones need to fly very fast, and average between 27-47 miles per hour.

Ruddy Turnstone juveniles need to grow up and learn to fly quickly.  They take their first flight when they are about 19-21 day old.  Two days later, they begin their thousands of miles’ migration.  Not much time!

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As their name suggests, they use their slightly upturned bill to flip over stones and other objects to find insects and small crustaceans.

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Ruddy Turnstones have special feet that are somewhat spiny, with short, sharply curved toenails that help them hold on to the slippery rocks.

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I knew there was a reason why they weren’t slipping!

The Ruddy Turnstone is one of two Turnstone species.  The second is the Black Turnstone, limited to the Pacific coastline from Alaska to South America.

 

Solar Eclipse Totality – August 21, 2017 – Lake Greenwood, South Carolina

My absence became much longer than I planned, and I truly appreciate all the well-wishes and prayers so many of you left me.  They were so very encouraging, I read them over and over.  Thank you so much!

I’m back with sharing a shot of mine of the Solar Eclipse event today that occurred across the United States.  We went to Lake Greenwood, South Carolina, at the center of the path of totality to watch it.

There was a lot of hype with this event.  And it was worth it!  I was absolutely amazed from start to finish.  And when totality occurred, WOW!  It was spectacular and unforgettable.

I didn’t take my tripod.  I wanted to experience the totality in full, not worry about setup, settings, and ‘getting the shot’.  I did have my camera & wide angle lens, and fired off a quick series of the totality, guessing at settings & hoping I could hold it steady enough.  Then I was back to watching it with my solar glasses, while listening to the birds and insects chirp in the cooler darkness.  Again….WOW!

I am surprised I captured something I liked and decided it’s time to get back to blogging, to share.

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And now it’s time for me to start back visiting your blogs, my friends.  I have really missed your posts, and look forward to getting back to enjoying them!

Enjoy your week, be safe!

 

Taking A Break……

As you know, I’ve mentioned in past posts on having some medical issues and apologized I haven’t been able to post as I use to.  I am going to take a long break, and this will be my last post for a month or so.  I will be getting a total knee replacement this week, and I know I’ll need this break to work on my recovery.  I hope to be back as soon as I am able!

Before I leave, here’s a couple more birds I captured at Blackwater NWR the same day I photographed the American Bald Eagle in my previous post.

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Red-winged Blackbird

 

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Osprey (one of my top five favorite birds!)

If I’m able to, I’ll try to keep up with my fellow bloggers’ posts, even if only to ‘like’ to let you know I’ve stopped by, but I might not leave any comments.  I’m just not so savvy on small devices/cell phones on typing.   🙂

Happy shooting and happy posting while I am away, my friends!  I will miss you!

 

An American Patriotic Symbol

Recently my husband and I took a drive along Maryland’s Eastern Shore, spending a couple hours driving along the wildlife drive at Blackwater NWR in Cambridge.  It felt wonderful to be out and about with nature, and it had been a couple years since I had last visited.  I was super-excited to say the least!

I was fortunate to get the chance to photograph several birds and a few animals, but nothing compared to the close-up opportunity of this gorgeous American Bald Eagle.

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This majestic bird was conveniently perched in a tree right alongside the wildlife drive.  It can’t get any better than that!

 

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Blackwater NWR hosts over 150 American Bald Eagles during the winter, as well as hosts one of the largest breeding populations of American Bald Eagles in the country.  We were fortunate to see about a dozen or so other Bald Eagles off in the distance flying, perched in trees, or on the ground along the water.

 

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A even closer close-up……

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We were preparing to move on when he/she decided to take flight.

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The American Bald Eagle has been the national emblem of the United States since 1782 and a spiritual symbol for native people for far longer than that.  Once endangered by hunting and pesticides, American Bald Eagles have flourished under protection.

I still get chills seeing one as if it’s my first time.  And when they are close enough for photo ops, WOWSA!

 

White-crowned Sparrow

(Due to medical reasons, I have not been able to post for a while and hope you’ll excuse my ‘no visits’ to your blog site.  I’m working on trying to get back and will be there soon!)

 

There are more than 30 different types of Sparrows.  Some are easy to identify, and some are so slightly different from another, identifying can be trying.

One that is easy to identify is the White-crowned Sparrow, with his/her bold black-and-white striped head, pale pink or yellow beak, and gray breast.

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Except along the West Coast and mountains of the West where they live year-round, White-crowned Sparrows appear each winter across the United States and Mexico, arriving from Alaska and artic Canada around September.

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“Fluffing the feathers”

Alaskan White-crowned Sparrows migrate about 2,600 miles to winter in Southern California.

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The White-crowned Sparrow usually leaves most of us by March or April, migrating back to Alaska and artic Canada for summer breeding.

A migrating White-crowned Sparrow was once tracked moving 300 miles in a single night.  A lot of miles for a little bird!

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“Foraging the ground”

White-crowned Sparrows eat mainly seeds of weeds and grasses, and insects. They also eat grains such as oats, wheat, barley, and corn, and fruit including elderberries and blackberries.

Definitely a cute little Sparrow!

 

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