Afternoon Lightning, Grand Canyon

Why do I specify “afternoon lightning”? Because evening lightning is coming soon in a future blog post! You can see in this photograph that the canyon is well lit by afternoon light. I was standing on the porch of the North Rim Lodge, watching the darkening clouds for a stroke of lightning over the South Rim when this image was captured. A custom-made lightning trigger helped.

Warmly lit Grand Canyon beneath a dark and stormy sky, seen from the North Rim looking Southwest. Lightning reaches from the cloud to the ground on the right above the Oza Butte.

Enlarge this image on your screen to see the lightning best.

Lightning at the Grand Canyon

My first attempts to capture lightning in a photograph have met with success, thanks to some spectacular storms firing across the Canyon from my vantage point, and a sophisticated device that triggers my camera shutter in time to capture it.

It was after sunset last night, and the canyon below us was getting quite dark. Check out these lightning forks.

Lightning at the Grand Canyon, seen from Hopi Point after sunset.
Lightning pierces storm cloud at the Grand Canyon, west of Hopi Point after sunset.

Good morning, Grand Canyon

Walking out to Bright Angel Point on the North Rim, I paused at this burnt tree trunk. I wondered, imagine what this scene would have looked like when the tree was burning.

Along the trail to Bright Angel Point on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, a tree you can nearly reach out and touch, and the canyon beyond, vast and mysterious.

USA: East to West

My summer travels are taking me from the Atlantic coast of Cape Cod to the Pacific coast of California. As I write today from San Diego, I am sharing the scene from atop a high dune in Wellfleet, Massachusetts on Cape Cod. It’s a sunny and very windy morning. The dune fence in a state of disrepair tells the story of surviving the harsh winter weather.

Cape Cod, dune, ocean
Spokes of the dune fence have fallen like dominoes in Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

What do you like best about this image? Are your eyes drawn to the ocean?

Stay tuned to this photography blog, as I’m headed to the Grand Canyon tomorrow.

Frozen lake’s sights and sounds

My eye followed the leading lines in this frozen lake across to the Wasatch Mountain Range. While the mountains were lacking in fresh snow, the temperatures were very cold, in the single digits and teens on this February day. Nearby, a well-bundled man was ice-fishing.

Wasatch mountains, lake, Utah
Frozen lake at the foot of the Wasatch Mountains, Utah.

While I was taking in this vista, I noticed the interesting sounds the ice was making. Have you ever listened to the sounds of a frozen lake?

My Favorite Hawk

I should be more precise: the Red Shouldered Hawk is the ONLY hawk I like. I think it’s such a handsome bird. It’s classy, quiet and artfully patterned. What do you think?

red shouldered hawk
Red Shouldered Hawk at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary in SW Florida, on the hunt.

I like this pose in which the hawk tilts its head while looking at possible prey.

red shouldered hawk
Red Shouldered Hawk with a sharp eye on the swamp below at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary.

I first spotted this silent hawk directly above me. At this angle, its torso is foreshortened, but the morning light illuminates its habitat. You don’t need binoculars to observe this large hawk.

red shouldered hawk
The Red Shouldered Hawk displays piercing eyes, a bright yellow bridge on its beak and a barred pattern on its feathered breast. Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, SW Florida.

Ibis Activities

The Ibis — large white wading birds with pink curved beaks — are often seen in Florida. They feed in groups, pecking the ground in shallow water or near the water. I like them because they are beautiful, peaceful birds with black wingtips, whether I see them soaring overhead, landing on the beach or walking through my neighborhood.

The Ibis were active at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, a wildlife observation site near Naples, Florida. A flock of three flew overhead, making a racquet with their unique “quack.” I observed one perched atop a high tree branch, and watched him long enough to photograph him fly into the brilliant blue sky.

ibis in flight
Ibis flies from his perch on a high tree branch in Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary in SW Florida.

Later, I watched an Ibis in a tree gathering nesting material. Usually, I see Ibis in shallow water or in the grass feeding, so this was interesting to watch.

Ibis nesting
Ibis gathers nesting material in January at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, SW Florida.

A more typical Ibis sighting is this one from Sanibel Island at low tide, where I observed this Ibis catching a crab in his beak.

Ibis feeding
Ibis feeding on a crab at J.N. Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island, Florida.

Pecking the Palms

This morning I rose before the sun to go birdwatching on our golf course. As the sun began to light the landscape, I spotted this Red-Bellied Woodpecker looking for insects on the palm trees. As he flew from one palm to the next, the sunlight gave us a good look at his red crown and black and white patterned wings.

This Red-bellied Woodpecker was spotted in Naples, Florida, but they can be found all along the East Coast of North America. Their red crown feathers are far more prominent than the tiny red lower belly.

Introducing the Pronghorn

This beautiful mammal is truly one of a kind, as the pronghorn’s 11 closest relatives are extinct. It is the last surviving member of the Antilocapridae family. The Pronghorn’s closest living relative is the giraffe!

The pronghorn (female shown here) is the fastest land mammal in North America, running up to 55 miles per hour. Grand Teton National Park.

You might have seen some pronghorns running at top speed around the national parks of Wyoming, because the species is repopulating, coming back strong from near extinction in the early 1900s, when it had been over-hunted by humans for food. It’s numbers dwindled to about 13,000. Private groups began buying up land to create a refuge for the pronghorn until the 1930s when Presidents Hoover and Roosevelt (FDR) created enough public land for them to live in a protected habitat. The presidents also put hunting restrictions in place. Now the pronghorn is estimated at 500,000 to a million in the American Rockies. (Read full details on Wikipedia.)

Now we could say of our fast-footed friend, that she is one in a million.

Watch Your Step, Heron

Dear Beautiful Heron, Please watch your step as you tiptoe silently through the long grasses and past the purple thistle. Do you remember those baby alligators that you like to eat? When they grow up, those big alligators might take a bite out of you. If they catch you, they will eat you whole, feathers and all.

Great Blue Heron tiptoes slowly and silently through the tall grasses and the thistle in the Everglades, March 2021.

Also silently lurking nearby in the grass is this large alligator. If he is hungry, the Great Blue Heron could be his next meal. Yikes! The food chain is merciless.

American Alligator, lying in wait for its next meal near the water where wading birds feed. Shark Valley, Everglades National Park, March 2021.