Meet the Avocet

I met an avocet for the first time at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. These birds sometimes live on the south east shores of the United States, but they are more common on East Texas coast and in California. I was captivated by the unique thin beak  curving up. The bird is about 16″ tall and slender with delicate legs and beak. If you find it feeding in the wild, you will see it wading along the shore and in marshes, sweeping for little insects and other edible creatures.

#avocet, #bird, #wildlife, #monterey, #aquarium, #shorebird, #wadingbird
The avocet’s delicate beak sweeps the sand for tiny bits of food.

While American avocets display a rust colored neck during breeding season, this one was purely grey and white.

#bird #wildlife, #monterey, #aquarium, #shorebird, #wadingbird, #beak
The graceful avocet at the Monterey Bay Aquarium has an unusual beak that curves upward.

Have you seen this bird? Where?

Gifts of Point Lobos

Today I had two conversations about holistic ways of countering stress — whether that stress comes from your personal life or worries about national and world events. One friend suggested turning one’s attention to community and religion. Another hailed the healing power of Nature.

Point Lobos State Reserve in Monterey Bay, California is one of those healing places. A long hike along the coastline is salve for whatever might ail you. This image features the yellow blossoms of early September.

#pointlobos, #monterey, #montereybay, #california, #hike, #nature, #bay, #pacific, #bluesky, #freshair
Point Lobos State Reserve is a marvelous place for a hike. Monterey Bay, California.

Arctic Terns in flight

Great bird photography comes from a successful collaboration of the right location, the right equipment, good technique, plenty of patience and an ounce of luck. If you approach a target-rich environment with the right lens and practice your technique enough — you will get lucky. (I paraphrase my husband’s motto: luck comes to the well prepared.)

The nesting arctic terns on Vigur Island in Iceland (a target rich environment) are very strong, fast and quick. They are busy catching small fish and delivering the fish to their chicks on the island. They also have an instinct to attack your head, so it helps to have an assistant guard your head with a stick.

Set your camera this way:  fast shutter speed to freeze action, and all other settings to support that choice: higher ISO, wide open lens, spot meter, and maybe continuous shooting.  Then, my technique was very quick action: pan/focus/shoot.

#tern, #flight, #freezemotion, #nikond800, #iceland, #vigurisland, #bird, #birdphotography
My favorite capture. Admire the tern’s strong wings, which will help him travel the longest migration on Earth — to Antarctica and back.
#bird, #tern, #arctictern, #iceland, #vigurisland, #windstar, #flight, #migration
The soft evening light highlighted this arctic tern in flight.
#bird, #tern, #arctictern, #iceland, #windstar, #vigurisland, #nikond800, #flight, #nature, #wildlife
This capture shows a unique angle of the tern’s wings in flight, as well as the forked tail feathers.

What the Cypress Says

If you think this tangle of cypress trees in Monterey are shaped by a strong coastal wind, you would be half right. The wind was not blowing at the time I took this photograph. But surely, the wind makes a habit of blowing off the Pacific and has shaped these trees over time.

#cypress, #dune, #wind, #clouds, #coast, #maonterey, #golf, #nature, #landscape
Strong coastal winds appear to have shaped the trees, the clouds and the sand dune.

This image invites me to ponder: how much am I shaped by my everyday environment? In what ways are you shaped by your world?

Gullfoss: Don’t Fall In

The day before we visited Gullfoss (on July 20), a massive and powerful waterfall within a few hours’ drive of Reykjavik, Iceland, a man fell in. I can easily envision this happening, as I was carefully watching my step on wet slippery rocks alongside a steep grassy hillside leading to the falls. That day, I thought to myself, “you don’t survive a fall into Gullfoss.” The 22-year-old man’s body was found miles down the Hvita River nearly a month later. This sad incident is a safety warning to all future visitors.

#gullfoss, #safety, #waterfall, #iceland, #hvita, #tourism, #powerful, #nature
You can see a line of visitors walking the path to get a close look at Gullfoss, as it crashes into a crevice in the foreground.
#gullfoss, #powerful, #nature, #iceland, #waterfall, #safety
This vantage point shows the crevice where the cascade thunders downward. For scale, notice the tourists in the upper right of the photo.

“Thar She Blows”

“Thar She Blows” was the cry of a sailor spotting a whale, but the expression came to mind as we stood waiting for the Icelandic geyser to explode with a massive force of steaming water.

About every 10 minutes, Iceland’s Strokkur geyser puts on a show — shooting hot water about 30 meters into the air. It’s a dramatic natural phenomenon that you can watch only a few places in the world. Yellowstone National Park and the north island of New Zealand are two other sites that come to mind. Geysers are an indication that you are standing in a volcanic landscape.

You would be well advised to keep your children and yourself out of the line of fire, but not everyone follows the rules or exercises good judgement.

#howto, #geyser, #geysir, #freezemotion, #iceland, #stokkur, #nikon
I chose to freeze motion with 1/1000 second exposure and f/11, the focal length that would keep the whole scene in focus. F/8 and f/11 will also give you a sharp image, edge to edge.
#strokkur, #iceland, #geyser, #geysir, #nature, #howto, #nikon
Strokkur reaches a height of about 30 meters. It’s startling to observe its power.

Geothermal Iceland

An active geothermal field of steaming, bubbling, and erupting hot water can be found a few hours from Reykjavik, Iceland. The “Litli Geysir” (little gusher, pronounced “gay-zeer”), is the name and place that originated the English word “geyser.”

#geyser, #geysir, #iceland, #boiling, #geothermal, #caution, #hot
This geothermal field is a good place to obey the signs about keeping your distance. Even the streams can be boiling hot, and you wouldn’t want to slip and fall and get burned, or step into mud and sink.

The geothermal field reveals its wide color palette, from yellow to green to blue and purple.  Steam escapes from many vents in the Earth.

#landscape, #iceland, #geothermal, #steam, #colors, #nature
Volcanic mountains and evergreens create a peaceful backdrop to the geothermal field.
#iceland, #steam, #geothermal, #hot, #sulphur, #landscape, #photography, #nature
Speculating that sulfur deposits may account for the yellow stain on the rocks underlying the hot stream here. As the water dries on the rock, the sulfur oxidizes. Notice ruins of a building to the left near the steam vents.