Per the ancient lore, part 12

Taking yesterday’s cue, we’re going to feature two images today for the ancient lore, both taken on the same day – one at close to 3 AM, and the other at 8:30 AM; I’m fairly certain I got a little sleep in between those, but can’t say for sure…

The folder is Science/Miscellaneous, which collects mostly things like weather phenomena and then everything that doesn’t fit into other categories. The first is… well, I shot it for some kind of poignancy, but soon realized that it doesn’t really carry that, and over the years I’ve looked at it and utterly failed to find a use for it – save for here, after which I may simply discard the frames.

hog jawbone covered in barnacles
That’s – the lower jaw of a pig, likely a wild pig, found in the shallows of my primary haunt in Florida. One season, someone discarded the carcasses of a couple of pigs right there, much to my annoyance, and later on I found this jawbone, studded with barnacles and blackened by who-knows-what. I perched it on the stump that sat on shore and has appeared several times on this site, but really, it just ain’t doing it.

I’ll take a moment to mention that the ‘wild’ pigs of Florida are actually domestic pork pigs that have escaped, or been released, and set themselves up a feral existence in the state, which somehow seems to encourage that kind of jazz. But no, these are not ‘boar’ or anything similar, and on occasion you can spot striped varieties. I’ve seen them a handful of times but never got any photos.

Now the next, which was actually the earlier of the two.

Eau Gallie causeway by streetlights
There’s nothing fascinating about this one either, but it was the first attempts to do some light trails across the causeway bridge – that red line is from the sole car that went through, so a time other than three AM is certainly better for traffic. And it has two little bits of trivia all its own.

The first is a story. One evening/morning, but I don’t think it was this morning, I was at the left side of the bridge shooting a long exposure out over the water, likely of a moored sailboat dimly visible in the ambient light, and decided to switch to the other side to see what could be found there. I crossed the horrendously busy lanes and reached the center barrier, which was about a meter high, swung my legs over it, and let myself down to the other side.

Except, the streetlight right over that immediate vicinity was out, which can actually be seen in the center of this pic if you look closely, and I was peering out across the water to scope out any potential. You may have already realized my mistake, but I’ll point it out if you haven’t: the lanes are, for reasons unknown, two different heights right at that point. Completely unaware of this, I swung my legs aver and expected a slight drop of a handful of centimeters, and actually fell more than a meter. There is the shortest experience of falling terror that occurs in such circumstances, before my straightened legs slammed into the road surface below and sent the shock right up my spine. I staggered but somehow managed to remain upright, then looked around to check if, by any remote chance, someone had seen me perform this graceless maneuver.

[You may be looking at this and thinking, What the hell, how could he have missed that? but I’ll remind you that this is a time-exposure, collecting a lot more light than was readily visible by eye, and even with this, you can see how dark it gets right there. But yeah, it would have been obvious had I looked down.]

Eau Gallie causeway in separated RGB color channelsNow for the second bit, discovered when doing some editing some time back; I even prepped and saved an illustrating image, but ended up not using it. Until now. The streetlamps are sodium pressure bulbs, putting out that curious orange glow, which looks reasonably accurate in digital but renders much worse in Fuji Provia slide film. However, this provided an overall orange cast to the image – accurate for the conditions, but not exactly white-balanced, you know? So I tried editing the image to bring it more in line with white light, and couldn’t even come close. Then when attempting something else, I looked at the separate color channels and found out why.

That’s each right there, and as can be easily seen now, sodium lamps put out virtually no blue wavelength, or at least none that can be captured by the digital camera I was using. To counter an orange cast, you’d want to increase the blue channel and reduce the red, but the blue channel had no effect whatsoever except for the glare from the bulbs themselves, and even then it was trivial. Just for giggles, I selected the blue channel and blew it out to almost maximum, what would normally be a radical overexposure, and got the faintest hint of reflected light only from shiny surfaces near the bulbs. It makes me wonder what the particulars are about that wavelength, since it reaches the camera directly, albeit weakly (that’s why the glare from the bulbs is still visible in the blue channel) but virtually everything that it shines on doesn’t carry away. It could just be extremely weak I guess.

That’s the kind of useless pondering I get up to sometimes…

Thank you, May I have another?

‘Tis the last gasp of May, and that means it’s abstract time! You’ve been bouncing up and down in your seat the entire month, haven’t you?

I am finally recognizing that making difficult decisions can induce a lot of stress, which is not good for your health and even less so for mine, so I decided not to decide (wait a second) which image from the beach trip was going to win the coveted position, and I’m simply putting them both up. If you want to shorten your life over the whole matter, you can decide on your own which is best. I’m not going to read any comments regarding this post, because that would be stressful too. Right now I’m even making someone else type this…

scattered tidal deposits
For the first, we have this little tableau found on the beach one morning as the tide receded. The little bit of greenery is what makes it, I think, but I’ll also point out the countless holes from small mollusks that were carried in by the tide and deposited, which then buried themselves quickly to escape the wading birds – you can occasionally see this happen as the water thins down to the last few millimeters, if you’re sharp-eyed.

sanderling Calidris alba foraging on flood plain
And the second comes from a small ‘pool’ in the marshes almost directly alongside the gazebo of the condo complex, which at low tide becomes an exposed mud flat. When the water level was ideal, sanderlings (Calidris alba) would often be found foraging in the shallows, mostly for small crabs I suspect, since the surrounding marsh grasses probably prevented much else from getting in there. From last year’s experience, I skipped wandering out there to see what could be found, since there was a high likelihood that I’d bury myself to mid-calf, at least, in the muck of the marsh. Yeah, I know I make a big deal out of the lengths I’ll go to for a shot, but I’d like to keep my sandals, plus oysters are incredibly sharp little bastards. Although I’ll make that extreme sacrifice if someone wants to fund the efforts…

It’s been a bit turtley lately

Back a couple of weeks ago, I featured a teaser image from a recent outing, one that I’m finally getting back to – but in the interim, we did that trip to the beach, which only added to the pattern that had been established. I don’t honestly think there’s anything more than coincidence at work here, but I’ll take advantage of it all the same.

The last outing that I made before we had to get everything ready for the trip was to Duke Forest, which is normally a decent place to find snakes. This time around the snakes were fairly scarce, and instead we were seeing turtles (among a few other subjects.) In a small pool formed by the fluctuating water levels in the creek, I unearthed a very small common snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina) while chasing very small crayfish – if you want to see those you’ll have to refer to Mr Bugg’s blog, if he ever decides to post them, since I was the one holding them and didn’t have the ability to shoot them at the same time. But after allowing him to get his own pics of the snapper, I handed it over to him to hold while I shot a few frames.

young common snapping turtle Chelydra serpentina being held in palm
It remained, for the most part, pretty docile for a minute or two, then decided it had had enough and began gaping and extending its head, looking for something to register its displeasure on in that special way snappers have, and so we returned it to the pool. There were plenty of crayfish in there to feed upon, and should those disappear, the creek was only a few meters away.

A little later on, I was looking across the creek from the spillway crossing and noticed a suspiciously dark smooth rock on the bank, a bit too far for a decent identification by eye, but a longer lens was sufficient to confirm my guess that it was another small turtle basking.

juvenile river cooter Pseudemys concinna basking on bank
Looking at it surroundings, I figured there was a decent chance to creep up on it from the shore, and so I made my way around and sprawled out on the bank behind the rocks to approach it, peeking up briefly to get my bearings, and then used the largest rock as cover until I could slip my hand around and cut off the turtle’s escape, which worked better than I’d hoped. Somehow, though, Mr Bugg was taking photos of my stalking right up until I made the capture when he stopped, and so there are no photos of this endeavor (I’m going to have to work on his photojournalism skills.) Still, we were able to do the nice scale and detail images that we were after.

juvenile river cooter Pseudemys concinna in palm
As I said earlier, I initially considered this a pond slider, but later determined that it was a river cooter (Pseudemys concinna,) mostly through the pattern on the plastron (belly) that I neglected to get any photos of. I’m still trying to impress upon myself the need to get a wide range of illustrations while I have subjects handy.

No, that’s not at all close enough – let’s go in tighter on that same frame.

profile of juvenile river cooter Pseudemys concinna
Isn’t that adorable? Of course it is – I don’t even know why I ask.

juvenile river cooter Pseudemys concinna making good its escape
After our pics, we let it go back into the water right where it had been basking, and it (unsurprisingly) headed out into deeper water away from the bank as I followed its progress with the longer lens.

juvenile river cooter Pseudemys concinna basking atop rock in creekBut it didn’t go very far at all, actually. Within a few meters it found a rock protruding from the water and selected that as its new basking spot, pausing alongside and surveying the landscape for a bit to determine if it was safe – that’s the image that went with the teaser post. We left the immediate region and did a little more exploring, but when we came back a short while later, the same turtle was now basking in its new spot atop the rock, and wasn’t very concerned with our approach despite having a very clear view of us. I would have thought that, having been captured, it would have been exceptionally wary afterward, but then again we did get some flattering photos, so perhaps ego played a role here.

I’m going to take a brief break here to tackle another subject while we’re still talking about Duke Forest, before we move on to Topsail Beach and the finds there. Chronologically I’m mucking about, because the following was actually our first find of the day, but I’m going to use it as an intermission.

Right alongside the trail leading down to the creek, I spotted a snake curled up in the sun – not exactly a significant accomplishment given the coloration and the light, but it was partially hidden under a plant. I initially pegged it as a black rat snake, but as we maneuvered for a portrait angle, I realized we had something different on hand.

eastern hognose snake Heterodon platirhinos just chillin
That upturned snout is indicative of an eastern hognose snake (Heterodon platirhinos,) a species that has a remarkably broad range of coloration. While it’s easy to believe this image reflects an irritated demeanor from those ‘frowning’ eyes, that’s just skull structure, a supraorbital ridge that helps shield the eye, and indicates no emotion one way or another – most snakes have them to some degree, as do many raptors.

But hognose snakes, in fact, have a fantastic pair of responses to threats, and after we got our first images, I began trying to provoke either (or both.) Of course, when you’re counting on a critter to be defensive, it turns out to be remarkably docile, and displayed neither trait even as I picked it up. I’ll refer you to this page in the main gallery (a different species but closely related) as an example of both of those defensive behaviors, and a color variant that the eastern hognoses can be found in as well, save for a small difference in belly patterns.

eastern hognose snake Heterodon platirhinos being far too agreeable
Once again, we have that apparent glare while the snake was actually being as tame as a duckling. I might have expected this had the night been cold, producing more of a torpor state from the reptiles we’d encountered, but no, it was plenty warm enough for exuberant activity – sometimes you just have cooperative subjects. I’m not knocking it, mind you.

Okay, back to the turtles. On our first morning out at North Topsail Beach, after shooting the sunrise, I headed out behind the condo in the narrow band between the buildings and the marshy sound, and let me paint this picture for a second. We have the beach, and just behind the main dune sits a row of rental condos. Then the parking lot and the road, then another parking lot and row of rental condos, including ours. Then a small backyard of grass, bordered by a thin row of dense trees before you hit the sound. That’s literally an eight-meter wide bit of land for anything that likes grass and bushes and so on (though it probably widened off to either side of us, since we were on a very narrow portion of the island.) This might have made our backyard a kind of highway, the only patch of safe terrain for critters moving north and south, though ‘safe’ is a loaded term, because I was there! And I can’t recall whether I heard a faint rustle of movement or not, but essentially looked down alongside the small boardwalk to see this first sample of terrapins from the trip.

female eastern box turtle Terrapene carolina carolina
This is an eastern box turtle (Terrapene carolina carolina,) the state reptile of North Carolina – well, not this particular specimen, to my knowledge. This is likely a female, judging from the brown eyes and the flattened plastron not visible here. Like most box turtles, she went motionless as danger/photographer loomed, but made good time once I left her alone, as I found when I went on down to the gazebo for a few minutes and returned, then returned again with The Girlfriend to show her my find; by that time I had to reveal her in her hiding spot under a bush, which might have been her napping area in the heat of the day.

very young eastern box turtle Terrapene carolina carolina trying to be subtle
I did it again the next day, this time slightly further off but still in the backyard (technically the neighbor’s, but it was all a shared area under the HOA.) I was able to use the early morning sun to light this diminutive example that was no more than 8cm in length, about a third of adult length (so much less than that in overall mass.) This is also an eastern box turtle, so you can see the variation in carapace coloration that can occur – and something else. Look carefully at the ridges on each scute (section or ‘shield’ of the shell.) This one is likely only two years old, since there is only one surrounding perimeter outside of the central hump on each scute, and compare this against the previous specimen, which is at least eight years old, but it looks to me more like ten – yes they grow a ridge every year, and the size of the ridges tells of their health and growth rate, some years being better than others.

By the way, to get this perspective I had to lie flat on my belly in the early morning dew and got moderately soaked. I’m not complaining, I just don’t want you thinking that I’m not putting in the effort for you.

I found another on a grey morning with bad light, when the macro flash rig was still up in the condo, so the handful of frames that I shot were all blurred by my motion and I discarded them. It’s not like I didn’t already have turtle photos. In my region of central NC, box turtles generally like a decent tree canopy and are most often found in the woods, blending in with the leaves very well, but at the beach of course there isn’t any such thing as a canopy, just little copses of trees here and there, so the turtles tended to spend more time in the open, though largely at night I suspect.

And the last, taken the day before we left.

male eastern box turtle Terrapene carolina carolina looking curmudgeonly
This is likely a male, judging from the red eyes, but I didn’t inquire as to what it personally identified as. Turtles often have this ‘disapproving schoolmarm’ look to them, and to the extent that they have emotions, this is probably at least partially accurate when I’m getting down into their face like this. I’ll keep an eye open and see if I can show you a happy turtle someday, so you can contrast the expressions.

Another tighter crop from the same frame, mostly for the eyes:

tighter crop of same eastern box turtle Terrapene carolina carolina
Have I mentioned how much I like the Mamiya 80mm macro lens for this kind of work? I mean, within the past five posts? I’d hate for you to forget.

Oh, what the hell. One more, off-topic, for giggles.

author in hat holding racer Coluber constrictor, by Wendy Hall
That’s me (the one on the right) holding another backyard find, what I’ve always called a black racer but it appears just ‘racer’ is the accepted common name, but either way it’s a Coluber constrictor. Which is funny, because they don’t constrict, unlike their almost-identical counterpart the black rat snake. I had just emerged from under the condo (most beachfront buildings are on stilts in NC – hurricanes, you know) and heard a rustle under the bush alongside me. I froze of course, to seek out the source, and immediately spotted my friend here with its head raised about a meter away – always pay attention to the sounds that ‘don’t belong.’ I maneuvered into a capture position, it darted off across the open grass, and I gave pursuit, much to the amusement of our friends watching from the balcony above. Unlike the rat snakes, racers often defend themselves vigorously, as can be witnessed by the blood spots on my fingers from several bites as I got a hold of it. You can also spot the ‘open’ vent towards the tail of the snake, evidence of their other means of defense, which is to defecate on you – it has a very distinctive smell that you won’t forget.

Two things I’ll point out before I go. You can see here the traits which will distinguish this species from a black rat snake, which are the evenly-colored belly only a shade lighter than the back (rat snakes usually have white with black patches,) and the smooth scales on the back – rat snakes have ‘keeled’ scales, a tiny ridge that runs down the center of each, visible in the right light. And of course, if it bites exuberantly as you try to pick it up, it’s likely a racer. Meanwhile, I’m standing on or right alongside the boardwalk that ran immediately behind the condos, while that treeline behind me marks the outer boundary of the lawn and the start of the marshy edge of the sound – that’s the whole backyard, where I found all of these specimens, and the narrow corridor of natural conditions that they had to work with. Not too shabby for an area too small to play a game of Whiffle Ball within…

Lucky I have something

You are well aware, naturally, that today is Relate Something That Happened Last Night That Has Nothing To Do With Alcohol Day (that modifier put in there to prevent things from getting really fucking boring, because who needs to hear yet another story about people with no self-control?) and, as fate would have it, I have a nice little tale – had the holiday fallen any other time this week, it would have been something about, like, laundry. So here’s my contribution.

Returning from the nearby pond where I’d been getting more post fodder to appear later on, I was right by the neighbor’s house when I spotted a fox crossing the road into our yard. This was curious enough – it was still pretty early, and there are enough streetlights that I was plainly visible. I had my headlamp, but the batteries had been run nearly flat in my previous pursuits, yet I switched it on anyway and had a quick look around the yard as I came to it – nothing to see.

(It gets better – just park the yap for a second.)

I was just about to enter our front door when I heard a rustle and a squeal, and I switched the headlamp on again and shone it in the direction where the noises had come from as I stealthily crept down there. In the neighbor’s yard, a pair of eyes reflected the light back to me, their height and distance apart telling me it was the fox. Almost as soon as I saw this, I also found a baby rabbit crawling/scampering through the grass towards The Girlfriend’s car. I simply held still and watched the fox to see what it would do.

It became clear that the fox had not only unearthed the rabbit from a small copse of flowers and plants at the base of two trees in the center of the neighbor’s yard, it had no intention of giving up its prey easily. When it disappeared for a moment I changed position a bit, but it reappeared and I held still again, and the fox spent some ten minutes searching the area in pursuit of the rabbit – never coming anywhere near it, but that was likely my fault, since the rabbit had largely come towards me. There’s a streetlight directly across the road from our yard, so it’s never dark here, and though I was shining the (dim) headlamp in its direction most of the time, I have no doubts that the fox was well aware of my presence, and only my silence and stillness kept it from fleeing – that and the near-miss of its meal. Its persistence was impressive, because it was largely between five and seven meters from me the entire time, which is damn close for something as shy as a fox.

And I will note that I could positively identify it easily with the long observation. The dark stripe down the back and the lack of a white tip to the tail told me it was a grey fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus) – we also have red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) in the area, and their coloration is often virtually the same, with the exception of the details I just noted. Yes, I know, you’d think a red fox would be red and a grey fox grey, because sense, but the truth is they often have mixes of both in their coats, and they can easily be mistaken.

Eventually, the fox slipped off after I called The Girlfriend’s Sprog down to watch the show (The Girlfriend was already in bed) – she got a brief look at the fox, but it definitely decided that things were getting too risky at that point. We then commenced a brief search for the baby bunny, knowing that finding it was not too likely – rabbits know how to hide, and searching at night by dim flashlight wasn’t ideal. We found no trace of it, so presumably it got away, with no idea what injuries it might have sustained. And there’s no telling if the fox returned a little later and made a more thorough search without our interference.

By the way, I had the Canon T2i with me, which has video capability, but the light wasn’t bright enough for either stills or video, and the headlamp too far gone (I’d been using it for other video, which will appear here eventually.) Slightly frustrating to me, since it would have been cool to have a video clip of the search efforts, but such missed opportunities happen often anyway – it was cool enough just watching the behavior from such a close position. And I have to note that the fox was utterly silent while stalking agitatedly back and forth in the neighbor’s yard, and with its coloration, it could easily have been missed entirely despite the light from the streetlamp – I was lucky enough to catch its silhouette as it crossed the road, and follow through with it from there.

Podcast: But no Annette Funicello

a pair of gulls against sunrise sky at North Topsail Beach
It’s funny; while I was in the final stages of putting this all together, I allowed myself to be sidetracked with more subjects for future posts, and just had a rather interesting evening. But I’m getting ahead of how behind I am. So for now, we have a podcast of the most recent trip, where we (meaning the family here and friends from out there, but not, you know, you and I, I’m sorry to say, unless of course it was) go back to the beach.

Walkabout podcast – Back to the beach

57 percent of the crew boogie boarding
The first post regarding last year’s trip to the same locale – there are three in total, so feel free to click through to the following posts as well. Or you can use this link for all of the posts so tagged (which will include this one, so don’t get stuck in an endless loop…)

Topsail Escape Room, because you should check it out when you’re out there. It’s likely that you can find something similar near where you live, too.

Just for the hell of it, the posts tagged with Savannah and Jekyll Island, because that’s where our friends are from and who we were hanging out with while there. They were always photographically productive trips and the posts reflect that at least.

More will be along as soon as possible – it took me long enough to get this one done. I’m presently waiting on some contributions from others to provide a more robust, nutritious post, properly following the content pyramid as it were. We’re getting there – stay tuned.

sanderling Calidris alba pacing among the surf bubbles

Per the ancient lore, part 11

party lights on sailboat in marina at night
Dammit dammit dammit dammit dammit! I still have no fucking time to work on posts! This is getting beyond annoying. I’d say I need to take a week off, but that wouldn’t actually work…

This week’s image from the mystical and timeworn days of early digital photography comes from the Scenic/Abstract folder, and shows a small marina in the Florida town that I lived within. Naturally I was struck by the string of lights on the small sailboat and took several different versions, some cropped tighter and not showing the distant glow in the sky at all. Right now, I’ll ask that you stop and look at it for a bit, see what kind of feelings and mood you get from it, to compare to my own impressions.

No, I’m serious. Stop her for a bit and look it over. Search your true feelings. Listen to your heart. Sounds about the same as always, doesn’t it? So okay, stop that and think with your brain instead.

All set?

So, I’m a little ill-defined on this one. There’s this contrast between the faint glow from the horizon, and the darkness where the boats are, broken (somewhat defiantly, to me) by those party lights. Yet there still seems to be no one around, though I’m not sure if I’m influenced by knowing the conditions at the time and not seeing a soul stirring anywhere while getting the shots. (Curiously, there’s a small dinghy moored to the sailboat that was drifting in the breeze/current, somewhat blurred in this pic, and in at least one of the other frames there’s a faint indication that there was someone in it, but I couldn’t begin to explain why.) I get this sense of foreboding from the horizon glow, with a bit of denial coming from the party lights. In the other shots without the horizon visible, there’s instead a sense of post-festivities, an island of warmth within the stillness of the marina itself.

So how did your impressions compare?

And now, to completely ruin the idea, I’ll tell you that this was shot from the bridge overpass of one of the major roads in the town, well-lit by streetlights, and nowhere near as serene as it appears here. I’m sure it eventually quieted down late at night, but it was hardly the kind of “listen to the water lap against the sides of the boat” conditions that you might have imagined.

Per the ancient lore, part 10

male brown anole Anolis sagrei displaying dewlap
After a brief jaunt into the future with last week’s post, we return to the earliest days of digital photos (for me, anyway) and of course Florida. The subject here is the lovely textures of a Caribbean sycamore tree, rudely blocked by an impertinent anole. Okay, I lie, I have no idea what kind of tree it is, and was instead after the anole itself, hard as that may be to believe. This is a male brown anole (Anolis sagrei,) doing his territorial/mating display thing. Typically, if you see this it’s a signal to look around carefully, since it virtually always indicates another within visual range, though I admit I don’t think I ever saw the beneficiary of this display. I doubt it was for me, but cannot vouch for the sexual proclivity of any individual lizard.

We’ve made it to the Reptiles/Amphibians folder, of course. The brown anoles weren’t originally native to Florida and are thus considered an invasive species, but the definition of this can be debated if one is so inclined. Right now the browns outnumber the native green anoles significantly, and are probably the easiest reptile species to spot in Florida, small as they are (roughly 14cm in overall length.) Which reflects a little on my changed approach to nature photography in the intervening years (this was taken in May of 2004.) The anoles, both green and brown, in Florida are abundant, and I even had a resident within the tree right outside my window, but I never sat down and did a detailed photo-examination of them. They were certainly easier to find than the Chinese mantids that I’ve been chasing the past several years, if a bit spookier, but I have far fewer images of them. Nowadays, with such easily available models, I’d probably have a full selection of portraits and behaviors, eggs and newly-hatched young and so on, within my stock folders, and this is at least partially due to writing blog posts, realizing that I had a good subject to feature and trying for more illustrating images. Certainly I’d have better-lit versions than this (and do,) but when you spot a wild and rather shy reptile displaying, you get what you can without thinking about how to coax it into a different position, or whether you can get a fill-reflector in place. And as the theme goes, these are the early digitals shots, so this is not an example of the best that I’ve ever gotten.

I don’t wanna!

If it seems like too many posts recently are quick little trivial things, kinda hit-and-run offerings, well, there’s a few reasons for that. If you haven’t noticed, stop reading right here and, uh, wait a bit for the next post. But anyway, as an explanation, there’s been an awful lot going on, without much of it being blogworthy, while the appearance of decent photo subjects has been particularly slow this spring. Meanwhile, when I do actually get something to write about, I really don’t have the time to do so. I don’t want to leave the blog lacking in this manner, but haven’t been able to correct that yet.

Which means I’m here to say, it’s going to go on at least a little bit longer, but hopefully not too much. And I not only have subjects for two posts already lined up, I expect to have at least a few more on top of those coming in pretty soon. In there is a known podcast, and the potential for more. And lotsa pics. Maybe even some that aren’t creepy…

In the interim, I leave a little teaser, what I had initially identified as a pond slider or yellow-bellied slider, but instead believe is a river cooter (Pseudemys concinna) – a juvenile at that, peeking out from the water suspiciously before climbing onto that rock to bask. Just one of a handful of subjects from a recent outing, which will be elaborated upon soonest.

juvenile river cooter Pseudemys concinna peeking from water

Oh boy oh boy oh boy

laughing gulls Leucophaeus atricilla migrating and not
Tomorrow – that would be Saturday, May 12th – is World Migratory Bird Day. Yep, already! So find your favorite world migratory birds, and treat them to dinner, or a movie, or maybe a day at the amusement park checking out the season’s new roller coasters. Whatever, just let them know you’re thinking about them.

Or I suppose you could just photograph some, or identify one or more that you haven’t seen before, or tally how many you can see during the day. It’s a little shallow and impersonal, but you know, whatever fluffs your coverts.

At least part of the day I’ll be tied up, but we’ll see if I get some time free to chase a few birds, as the English say. Meanwhile, I’ll direct you over to the itinerant birder Mr Bugg to see what he scares up for the holiday.

Per the ancient lore, part 9

small runoff shower across cave opening from within
Let’s take a trip to the Mountains folder, shall we? Though to be honest, if I was doing these in true chronological order this wouldn’t appear for quite a while; this was actually taken with the first digital camera that I owned, a Canon Pro 90 IS, on the first trip to the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina – somehow, while living in this state from 1990 to 2001, I never made it out there, so I finally did a trip once I’d returned, this one being in May 2005. My timing was off – the spring foliage and colors were still a little ways away, arriving much later in the higher altitudes than I’d guessed.

I was partially chasing waterfalls, and partially in search of scenic compositions, which the just-budding trees weren’t contributing to very well. But I can’t really remember where this was taken – I just know that I’d been on a short trail seeking something specific, and happened across this small cascade over the mouth of a shallow cave. It was easy enough to duck inside without getting wet, but not the most photogenic of actions; if I got the outside foliage exposed properly, the water would nigh have disappeared and nothing inside the cave would have shown, even with firing off the flash as I did here. It would have been much worse trying for a long exposure to get more of a milky look from the water, because the region outside the cave was in bright sunlight, very easy to over-expose. Ah well.

Here’s a curious thought, however: I would have believed that, over the centuries, this cave would have been cleared out by natives, whether Native Americans or even some earlier cultures. So was it just not as good as something else not too far away, or is it newer than I imagine? Perhaps it had been cleared long ago, but rockfalls had re-cluttered the floor?