Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Waiting for the next storm, and a pretty cool goose

The next in the seemingly endless progression of storms to roll up the East Coast this winter is set to hit us tonite and tomorrow.    This one looks like (for those of us in So. MD) a mix of sleet and snow, with 4-6" likely.  If you've ever had the horrifying experience of being on the road with the locals in a snow situation - it isn't much fun.  Many of them fail to realize that it takes longer to stop your moving vehicle in the snow than it does on dry ground. They must have missed that day in Science Class.

So - might as well make a short post.

I've been chasing the sea ducks that winter here from their summer haunts in the Arctic.  I never paid much attention to them before, but they are really cool birds.  And not very easy to get good photos of.  A recent sensation in our area - among the bird watchers - has been the sighting of a Ross' Goose among a flock of about 2,000 Canadas.  Now, a Ross' Goose in and of itself isn't really noteworthy, but it IS when it is in MD.  They normally migrate south to California and Nevada, not east of the Mississippi. AND certainly not as far east as Maryland.  So - the birders have been out in force, looking for this goose as well as hoping to see one of the Snowy Owls that have been sighted throughout the winter here  (I've blanked on the Snowy so far)

I got lucky over the weekend and found the Ross.  On Saturday I couldn't get a picture but I did get some on Sunday.  According to what one of the online birder folks tells me, this is the fist substantiated Ross Goose sighting for Calvert Co in MD.  So, from a Birders perspective - it's pretty cool



 Here's a few others from over the weekend.

Be safe in the snow and ice.



                                                     Bonaparte gull



                                                  Male Bufflehead in flight



                                                                         Canvasbacks



                                                     Female Red Breasted Merganser


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

New Year, New Post, New Pics, New Teeth

I figured it was about time to either pull the plug on this or resurrect it for the umpteenth time.  Something just won't let me kill it, although I am certainly giving it a long, slow death by ignoring it.  But enough nonsense.


Just got back from SHOT Show.  Highlight from the show - meeting Lisa Baron (aka the Writing Huntress, blogging as Lisa Jane)  I've admired her writing style for along time and, let me tell you - she is the real deal!  I hope things work out and I get to get out to North Dakota and hunt with her and her husband Mike next year.  Great people.


I am still loving the picture / photo thing.  Trying to get good shots of birds - particularly sea ducks -  is tough but occasionally rewarding.  The backyard types are easier.


My wife and I went out to the beach yesterday afternoon - first time looking for sharks teeth in about 6 months.  Bad tidal conditions but a beautiful day.  63 degrees in the end of January.  (Can't believe its a winter storm today, but it is)  Despite tough conditions and a lot of other people looking, she found our FIRST Megalodon from the local beach. Its a posterior tooth, but it's complete and, I think, awesome!  Also found 3 porpoise teeth, including out biggest ever.  And a possible croc tooth.  Not a bad day.


I'll post more often this year - I promise

As always, click on the picture for larger views




                                                         Male Downy Woodpecker




                                                             Red Bellied Woodpecker



                                                            Swan in Flight




                                                 Megalodon Tooth



                                                             3 Porpoise teeth, and a probable croc tooth

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Wild Bird Wednesday

To see some REALLY NICE wild bird shots, click over to Paying Ready Attention each week for Wild Bird Wednesday.


                                                          "She's Not Listening"

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Saturday, November 9, 2013

SkywatchFriday - a Photo Link Up

I'm making a concerted effort to participate in a bunch of Photo link ups around the web.  Here's my submission for Skywatch Friday.  Check out the other submissions HERE.


Sunday, November 3, 2013

I'm back - more pictures

After another rather lengthy absence, I'm back.  Lots to do at work. (But - the work outlook has improved considerably.  The few of you out there who knew the work situation will understand!)

I've been taking tons of photos. I am really getting into the whole photography thing.  Can't wait to get back out west - RMNP will take on a whole new meaning now.

Here's a few recent attempts.  Hope you enjoy.  As always - click on the photo for a larger image.

First - a couple of photos from Urbino, Italy
 
 

 
Next, some local photos
 
 





Thursday, September 19, 2013

Fly Fishing in Italy, and a new butterfly

I finally got to go fly fishing this year.  First time in 2013.  And it happened in Italy.  Go figure.

There are many great things about my new job that brought me to Southern Maryland.  But the one not-so-great thing is that it has virtually eliminated my fly fishing for trout.  Nothing really close by - the Gunpowder is almost 2 hours away - and my travels haven't been taking me to any trout areas.  Until now.

I just got back from 2 weeks in Urbino Italy for work. The city is beautiful, the food insanely good, the wine plentiful and wonderful.  And, since we had a fee weekend, I decided to look into going fishing on the Saturday we had free.  Through the power of the Web, I found Luca Castellani,  http://www.lucacastellani.it/   a guide in the Tuscany region of Italy.  We emailed back and forth and I secured a day with 2 guides for 4 of us.  We met near Sansepolcro  in the morning, secured our licenses, and set off for the Tevere River.  (Which, as  I later found out is actually the Tiber River, which eventually flows through Rome.)..  The section we were to fish is a Catch and Release tailwater section that is home to brown trout and grayling.



Luca took our two more inexperienced flyfishermen.  Reports back from both of them was that they had a blast , Luca was a great and patient teacher, and they caught some fish.  I fished with my rep, Greg, who has limited fly fishing experience.  Our guide was Moreno Borriero, a very experienced fly fisherman originally from South Africa.  He has  intimate knowledge of the stream, hatches, and fish.  He is also a very accomplished bamboo rod builder.  He showed me the water and then spent some more time with Greg, working a bit on his casting.  (After my first few casts, I felt like he should be helping me.  When you take a substantial amount of time off from fly fishing, it becomes apparent that you can no longer make even a simple effortless cast.  It all came back, but it did take a while!)



                                                    A morning brown trout



                                                 Greg fishing a bugger against the bank


                                               Wooly buggers work everywhere!

The fish in these waters are pretty highly pressured and are extremely selective.  There were a few rises as I worked my way upstream.  Occasional BWO's lifted off the surface.  I had to go to a 9' 6x leader with a 3'-4' 7x tippet, and a #20 CDC olive.  I brought a few trout to hand in the morning, but really had to work for them.  It was, in a word, perfect.  Nothing big for me - fish were all around a foot in length.  The other guys were throwing buggers and brought a few nicer fish to hand - 16"-18" fish.  There are some really big fish in these waters, too.  I set up on what Moreno thought was a rising grayling and , after a couple dozen casts, finally got him to take.  Of course, a grayling has an over-slung mouth and needs to come up and over a dry fly to take it - much like a redfish in saltwater.  Of course, I pulled the fly away before he actually go it in his mouth.  Nice move, Joe!

A light lunch was to be provided, per Luca's website.  To me, that meant a sandwich and a bottle of water.  Instead, we went to a very small cafe along a nearby road.  We sat outside, drank wine and beer, and were served a couple of large platters filled with the most delicious cured meats and cheeses imaginable.  A couple loaves of fresh bread, some olive oil.  Awesome lunch!!  Then the bowls of pasta came out.  This "light lunch" at a roadside cafĂ© was seriously better than anything from the finest Italian restaurant in the states.  The food in the region is amazing.


                                            The second or third course of the "light lunch"

So - back to the river after lunch.  The afternoon turned out to be the kind of day you dream about. Well - at least I dream about.  Good, solid hatch of BWO's.  Constantly rising fish.  TOUGH, selective fish.  So selective that they consistently refused the NATURALS that were floating down the current seams.  I had a dozen fish within casting distance of me rising steadily.  For 3 hours I cast to them, extended my tippets, changed flies to smaller , more subtle patterns, got ignored, got refused, missed hits, got ignored some more.  I finally got one small brown trout, and I couldn't have been happier if it had been a 26" trout.  These fish were tough, selective, and demanded perfection.  I LOVE fishing to these kinds of fish, even though they almost always win..  I had a ball.


                                                          A very well colored brown trout




                                                   Me and Moreno with another brown

Finally, at the end of the afternoon, I decided to see if I could still catch any fish, and tied on a San Juan worm under an indicator.  3 trout and 30 minutes later, I decided that, if I really needed to catch something, I could still nymph fish and bring something to hand.

Now I remember why I love fly fishing - it is days  like this that live on forever in my memory.

On the home front, my wife saw a new butterfly come into the butterfly bush.  After a couple of failed attempts, I finally got some pictures of it.  The shots I tried to get with its wings upright were blurry, and this little guy doesn't hang around very long.  Also, I leave you with a photo of my favorite spider - the Orb Spider.  He's got quite a lunch, feasting on a pretty good sized grasshopper.


                                                Our new butterfly - a Red Spotted Purple!




                                                                    Orb Spider

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Butterflies to get you through a week and a half

I'll be out of town - in Italy, actually, for a week and a half, so I'll post a few pics to pass the time before I go.  (For those few folks who have been long time sufferers at the hands of this blog - you're probably thinking "A week and a half???   Usually you only post twice a year!!")   I should come back with a lot of photos - keep your fingers crossed   In addition to spending the time in a beautiful old walled city - Urbino - I get a chance to fly fish for trout and grayling on Saturday, and hunt pheasant and red legged partridge on Sunday.  Plenty of photo ops.

The pictures below were taken on our vacation.  We visited the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens in Richmond VA - I HIGHLY recommend it if you're in the area!.  They had a butterfly exhibit, and these shots came from there.  Nothing really artistic - just cool butterfly photos.

See you in a week and a half

Joe












Tuesday, August 27, 2013

A walk on the Boardwalk

About a week ago, my wife and I finally got around to taking a walk on the Boardwalk in the neighboring town of Chesapeake Beach.  This relatively new boardwalk follows a saltwater creek into a salt marsh. It was a nice day, so I grabbed my camera and off we went.

Nothing too eventful - just a lot of opportunities to take pictures.  I did find a couple of things that were, I believe, helpful in my development as a photographer.  Taking a lot of photos of everyday life will usually result in a photo or 2 that are really nice.  Next time out I want to try some more shots of crabs in the water using my polarizing filter, but I forgot it this time.

Probably the thing I came away with most was the opportunity to practice taking shots of moving birds.  It's not an inherently easy thing to do, but when there are a lot of seagulls around, you get a LOT of practice.  I'll continue practicing on the seagulls to ensure that , when the opportunity presents itself for a great heron / osprey / bald eagle photo, I'll be ready and comfortable in the setting.

Here are a few of my favorite photos from the walk








             Crab boats




        This crab was chowing down on something on this buoy - seaweed maybe?



                 This is why I need to remember to bring along the polarizing filter


                                                          Osprey in flight


                   This is what I love about taking a ton of digital photos.  Every once and a while you get one that is, well - perfect!





         Trying to freeze the seagulls in mid-flight.  It's harder than it looks - at least for me.



           Even though this one isn't in perfect focus, I like the reflection in the water



       Another one that, to me, turned out really nice.


Thanks for looking!

Joe