Tag: travel

Two swan pages, and their order and family pages are now live

So several more pages are now live under the birding tab of the ‘blog’.

An new organizational page (the ‘water birds’) is up and running. This ‘tab’ will contain all the bird orders/families that are associated with the water (members spend at least fifty percent of their time near, on, or in the water). As mentioned on the page, while there are raptors that eat fish (namely the osprey and bald eagle), they aren’t included within the tab as they don’t spend that much time on or in the water (they grab their food and fly off to eat it).

The order (Anseriformes) and family (Anatidae) pages for the ducks, geese, and swans are also up and live under the birding section (specifically under the ‘water birds’).

Young Mute Swan

This is another group that will take several days/weeks to finish, as I think there are thirteen to fourteen members of the family for me to do research over (most seen within the United States and three or four were also seen over in the UK).

So far I have two swan pages up on the site: the Mute Swan (seen in both Boston and the UK) and the black swan (seen solely in the UK).

The black swan is native to Australia and was introduced to the northern hemisphere starting in the 1800s, and the mute swan is native to northern hemisphere–but within the ‘old world’ and was introduced throughout the rest of the world starting again in the 1600-1800s.

Black swan seen within Kensington Park

The next set of pages will probably cover the geese that I’ve seen (again mainly in the US, but several were also spotted within the UK) and I’m hoping to have those pages up and ‘live’ by the end of the weekend.

A photography goal is to get pictures of the two native swans in North America: the trumpeter and tundra swans.

Curious to know if you’ve seen a swan–which species was it and where were you?

No Comments bird watchingnatureoutdoorsSciencetravel

Identifying the doves: Eurasian Collared-Dove & Inca Dove

There are two more bird pages live under the bird tab. This time it was adding in two additional dove pages for the two doves that I had spotted and gotten pictures of years ago in South Padre Island, Texas.

Eurasian Collared dove sitting on a roof

The first one, for some reason I misidentified as a mourning dove–white it has the black crescent on the back of the neck, it is missing the black dots on the wings. Therefore, it turns out that I actually managed to get a couple of pictures of a Eurasian collared dove on a roof.

These doves aren’t native to the ‘New World’, and were originally brought to the Caribbean to be sold as pets in pet stores, but in the 1970s were released from a pet store in the Bahamas. It took them about ten years or so to make their way to Florida, and have been spreading throughout the states and Mexico ever since. For some reason though, they haven’t made much headway into the Northeastern part of the country or into Canada.

The second dove I spotted, I truthfully forgot about until I was going back through the pictures, because of how well it blended in with the grasses.

Inca Dove on the ground

It turns out that I also managed to get a couple pictures of an Inca dove as well.

This dove is mainly found in the southwestern parts of the country, even though there have been sighting of it up in Colorado. They have the coloring to blend in with the arid, desert landscapes of the American Southwest.

Photography goals will be trying to get additional pictures of the doves using my other camera (that has a slightly better zoom), and possibly getting a picture of more than one roosting on a wire or tree branch.

With the addition of these two pages, the pigeon/dove group is ‘complete’ as of today. There are still more pigeons and doves that can be spotted within the US, not to mention around the world.

What is your favorite dove/pigeon species?

No Comments bird watchingnatureoutdoorsPhotographytravel

Adventures in the Outdoors: National Get Outdoors Day

So within the ‘Great Outdoors Month’, there is also ‘National Get Outside Day’.

This day was ‘established’ in 2008 as a means to get people outside for a ‘healthy, fun day of outdoor adventures’. This is a nationwide event that is coordinated by the US Forest Service and the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable (which is America’s leading coalition of outdoor recreation trade associations and organizations).

It falls on the second Saturday of June–which means for this year it is today (June 12th). This means that in theory, today one should have free parking and entrance to parks across the country (though one should always have money on hand just in case the particular park is still charging either entrance and/or parking fees)–though other fees (such as camping or fishing) may still be charged.

While I may not be able to head to a state or national park for the day–I will hopefully be sitting outside ‘enjoying’ the outdoors later this afternoon (we’re in our hot and humid phase, with heat indexes in the upper 90s or low 100s–so even just sitting outdoors is unpleasant unless there is a nice breeze). Though I did get ‘outdoors’ this morning when I went to get the newspaper (and it was already starting to get a little muggy).

Even though I’m not heading to the ‘great outdoors’ today, I thought I’d still share some nature photos from various trips and hikes I’ve taken over the years:

While its been the only cave system I’ve visited–I would have to rank Carlsbad Caverns (more on the caves in an up-coming #throwbackthursdaytravel post) pretty high on the list for both caves and national parks:

Various formations seen within the ‘great room’ in Carlsbad Caverns

For easy hikes, I would say it’s a toss-up between hiking in the Ozarks (at Devil’s Den) and wandering through the forests along the north shore of Lake Superior:

Water-bugs skimming the top of the water @ Temperance River State Park

I managed to get a decent picture of numerous water-bugs walking/skimming the top of the water. This was a ‘calm’ portion of the river, and not very deep. I think it took me about ten minutes or so from the parking lot to reach the spot. One nice thing about the North Shore of Lake Superior–most of the state parks allow free entry for hiking, the only ‘fees’ are if you’re wanting to camp for the night. So, we just found a nice hotel, and drove up and down the coast going to different parks for hiking each day.

Spotting Lee Creek through the trees

I didn’t really try to get down to the creek at Devil’s Den to see if I could spot any insects, fish, or amphibians–maybe next time.

So I’ve been to parks (both state and national) within the Midwest and Southwest, so if I had a ‘magic wand’ that could teleport me to any national park/monument in the country for the day, I would figure out how to split my time and go between Crater Lake Natioal Park in Oregon, Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve in Idaho, and Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky.

How are you spending National Get Outdoors Day?

No Comments Day TripsNational ParksnatureNature PreservesoutdoorsPhotographyRandom Celebration DaysState Parkstravel

The two ‘stocky’ heron (green & black-crowned) pages are live

So, two more bird pages are now live in the birding section of the blog (birds, birds, and birds).

I’m slowly making my way through the other family members of the heron, egret, and bittern family (Ardeidae) that I have taken pictures of in the wild.

The two pages that I’ve posted today are of the ‘stockier’ herons: the green heron and the black-crowned night heron.

I managed to get several pictures of the green heron last summer at Boomer Lake, and I was happy with how I managed to progress from just getting a partial picture of a green heron to actually getting a picture of one in flight during a very foggy morning.

Green heron in flight on a very foggy morning at Boomer Lake.

I haven’t seen a night heron since my trip to Hawaii back in 2009; but in all honesty, I had no idea that they migrated through Oklahoma. I think it would be super cool to spot one within the lower forty-eight states–though that may mean being in a slightly more tropical part (such as California, Florida, or along the Texas coast) where they are around all year.

Young black-crowned night heron peaking through the coconut fronds

The other ‘stocky’ members that I would like to get a picture of are the yellow-crowned night heron (which is mainly found in the eastern part of the US, though it does summer in OK), and the bitterns (both American and Least), but these two birds are even more secretive than the green heron.

Have you gotten a picture of a bittern? If you have–how long did it take to get a good picture?

No Comments bird watchingnaturePhotographytravel

Photography Challenge Day 96: Fishy Friday Edition. The French angelfish from the New England Aquarium.

Today’s Fishy Friday post winner is the French angelfish that was sitting on the artificial coral at the New England Aquarium. These are fish that live in the waters of the western Atlantic from Florida down through the Caribbean and south to Brazil.

French angelfish at the New England Aquarium

They feed on a variety of different foods including sponges, algae, soft corals, and tunicates—to name a few food sources. It’s a good thing that the corals in the aquarium are man made. Younger French angelfish will also clean the parasites and loose scales of larger fishes—including some that would probably like to have them for lunch as well. When in the wild, French angelfish actually are spotted in pairs.

Once they pair, they will defend a feeding territory from other fishes, and they reproduce via broadcast spawning. This is where the female and male both release their eggs and sperm into the water column above the reef at the same time. Broadcast spawning helps increase the likelihood of fertilization of the eggs, and protection of the eggs from predators that would feast upon them. During a single spewing event, the female fish can release anywhere between 25,000 and 75,000 eggs. The eggs will hatch within fifteen to twenty hours after fertilization. The young will live among plankton until they are approximately 15mm in diameter, where they then will settle onto the coral reef.

I’m not sure if there was a second French angelfish in the exhibit or not–and if there was I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between a male and a female. I’m happy to say though, that I’m slowly starting to identify the different fish that I took pictures of (at least of those that I have non-blurry pictures of). Next goal–another aquarium and more FishyFriday photos.

References:
https://oceana.org/marine-life/ocean-fishes/french-angelfish
https://www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu/discover-fish/species-profiles/pomacanthus-paru/

No Comments naturePhotographyZoos/Aquariums

Photography Challenge: Throwback Thursday Edition–Trip to the British Museum

One of the many things to see in the British Museum.

Well I decided that today’s picture was going to be in the throwback edition. Looking through my photos, I decided that I wanted to remember my brief trip to London and the surrounding area that I took almost a year and a half ago.

This trip was during the time that I was job searching (as I’d been laid off from my job in August of 2017 due to budget issues), and I decided that I needed a break from things. I made it a two for one trip–I was going to try to network (there was a career event that I registered for) and also treat it as a mini vacation at the same time. So this was a whirlwind trip, where I left the US on Monday, landed in London on Tuesday, did the networking event on Wednesday and then spent the next three days sighting seeing as much as possible.

Going to London was my second trip abroad (first was in college for a forestry class & we went to Honduras), and my second large solo vacation as well (my first large solo vacation was going to Hawaii after passing my PhD proposal exam in grad school).

I loved the British Museum, & I know for a fact that I didn’t see everything in the museum either. So, hey–one reason to go back, I need to see the other half of the museum. I’m pretty sure that I missed the portions on Asia. But I love going to museums, zoos, aquariums–places that one can learn, and the exhibits while they might not “change”, the second time seeing them you see things in a different light or notice something that you didn’t see before.

It has also reminded me that it’s been awhile since I took a “big” trip, so maybe that is something that I should slowly start planning for in the fall. There are quite a few different places that I would like to travel & see–Australia, Scotland, Italy, and Finland just to name a few countries. Will just have to see what the year brings and maybe–just maybe there will be another trip abroad later this year.

No Comments Photographytravel

Two goals and a plane ticket……

Well this is the first entry for my series on getting ready to travel to, around, and then back from London.  This past weekend I decided that I needed to expand the horizon for job searching…….I mean I’ve put out seventy job applications since the end of March, and about half have come back as nos–either I didn’t have the entire skill set; I hadn’t been publishing that many papers (forgot to add in the handful of in-house student publications that my name is on); I had my PhD too long (yep, in today’s job market there are a large number of labs that prefer to hire scientists who have only been out of grad school less than four to five years; right now I’m not going to age myself and say how long I’ve had mine); or I didn’t have a strong background in a subject. Another quarter have also been ignored–I’ve sent a follow-up email and have yet to hear a peep back on the status of my application–I don’t mind getting rejected. At least that tells me that my application was at least considered. When I don’t get a response, I figure that my application for whatever reason ended up in the trash (or recycling) bin.

Okay lets look at these responses logically and from the opposite viewpoint–industry is about the bottom line; they don’t want to waste time training someone, if they can find the skill set in someone who may not have the terminal degree (that person may only have a masters). I understand this, and almost wish that they’d just list their preferred qualifications as the minimum qualifications.  Why?  Because I will still apply for a job even if I’m lack a skill or two–because I will honestly state that I know little (to nothing) about that skill, but I’m willing to learn; with the hopes that there will be someone who is willing to take the chance. Read More

No Comments Personal Development