Sunday, March 20, 2011

Perigee Moon

Last night the moon was the closest to earth it is going to be for another 18 years.  I had to take photos or at least try to capture it in photos.  I didn't have much luck last night.  But when I woke this morning, I was able to take some photos that I think turned out well.

The bright photo with the ring of light is one I took on auto setting.  The rest of the photos were taken on manual setting.  Because there is a slower shutter speed, you can see much more detail.

I took these photos on auto just before the moon set this morning.  There was enough light then for me to shoot these strictly on auto.  How beautiful it was!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Red Tail Hawk

Every day, on my way home from work I pass this wonderful dead tree that sits at the edge of an open field.  I think it's beautiful even though it doesn't have any leaves.   

The Red Tail hawks pretty much love it too. because they sit in this tree on a regular basis to look for prey.   Here is a photo of a hawk sitting in the tree that I took last year.  I see this hawk pretty frequently; and you can see that he's looking right at me.

I took these photos last week on my way home from work.  There she/he was, sitting in the usual spot, overlooking his domain.  

I'm fascinated by hawks.  I try to read everything I can about them.  We have several different types that live here, and they're all beautiful.  

Here are two photos of what I believe is a young Cooper's Hawk.  Isn't he gorgeous!

After doing some reading, this is what I learned:  All raptors are classified as Falcaniforme, which includes eagles and hawks.  These are subdivided in the United States into four groups:   buteo, accipiter, kites, and harriers.   Red-tail Hawks are "broad-winged or soaring hawks," classified as Buteo jamaicensis.  They have large wings and relatively short tails used for soaring while searching for prey.  Most buteo species live in open area habitats like grasslands and prairies and mainly eat rodents and other small mammals.

Accipiter species include the Cooper's and Sharp-shinned hawks and are considered forest-dwelling hawks.  They have short, rounded wings and long rudder-like tails.  Their flight pattern consists of several rapid wing beats, short, gliding flight, followed by more rapid wing beats.  Their body shapes and flight pattern make them agile hunters of birds.  The number of accipiters had a serious decline in the 80s with the use of DDT and are now starting to stabilize.

All raptors are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.   Eagles, ospreys, hawks, falcons, kites, owls, vultures and all other native North American birds of prey are strictly protected, to include a prohibition against the taking or possession of their parts such as feathers or talons. The only exceptions generally allowed for individuals to these prohibitions require permits from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Educational and scientific institutions are exempted from most permit requirements.

Penalties for violations of the MBTA can go up to $15,000 and 6 months imprisonment for common violations. The sale or barter of migratory birds is a felony with penalties up to $500,000 and 2 years imprisonment. Some raptors, such as the bald eagle, are also protected under the Endangered Species Act, and both the bald and golden eagles are also protected under the Eagle Act.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Don't Feed the Ducks

That's what the signs say all around the pond.  Apparently, someone wasn't listening because as soon as these guys saw me, they began a mad swim to shore.   I didn't have anything for them, just me and my camera.

They created quite a wake in their synchronized rush to get to me.

They were SO excited to see me!  And I couldn't wait to see them and take their pictures.   They waddled toward me as quickly as their little feet would let them.  I love ducks.  They're so darn cute!

Ducks:  Hey, guys, this one looks like a pushover for someone with feathers, webbed feet, and a duck bill.

 Can I have an extra treat just for being so different and cute?

Okay, I think this one is a bust.  No goodies here.

 Feathered friends:  We're outta here!  Deadbeat!

Me:  Wait, come back!  Don't you want to be famous?  I'm planning to put your photos on my blog!

Come back!  Please?

Oh well, I did manage to take these great photos of cat tails that have gone to seed for another year.  It was incredibly warm yesterday here in NOVA at 79 degrees.  Can you believe it!?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Burgeoning Spring

It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold:  when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.  ~Charles Dickens

 Definition of Burgeon:  intransitive verb

1  a:  To set forth new growth (as buds or branches):  SPROUT
    b:  BLOOM

2   :  To grow and expand rapidly:  FLOURISH

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Make Hay While the Sun Shines

. . . and if it rains, then find a serendipitous pond to swim in!  We had so much rain on Wednesday that there were flood warnings everywhere and low-lying roads were covered with water.  It took me TWO HOURS to drive home from work.  It's normally a 45-50 minute drive.  I still haven't quite figured out why there are times when it seems like everyone in the state of Virginia is on the road, trying to get home at the same time.  Maybe it's because everyone in Virginia IS on the road and trying to get home at the same time.  I decided not to let it stress me out, turned on some classical music and just took my time since I didn't have much choice.

There is a low spot on the property where I live that has a storm drain in the middle of it.  But sometimes, if we get a lot of rain, it floods into a makeshift pond.  

When I woke this morning, I heard geese honking and just assumed they were flying over as they do every day on their way to a pond or lake.  But this morning, when I looked out of the window, they were having a great time, delighted to find this wonderful little pond that had magically appeared overnight!  

A perfect example of taking advantage of every happy thing that comes your way.  This dog was startled to find the geese swimming where he normally gets to run and play.  Can you just see look on his face, saying where the H*LL did they come from?!

Hope you are all having a wonderful weekend!!

Pre-Dawn View

I usually leave for work about 4:45 a.m.  When I get to work at the Washington Navy Yard, it's still dark; but there are some beautiful sights even that early in the morning.  No breathtaking sunrises yet because it's still too dark.  But if you look at the Anacostia River, you can see the bridge from D.C.  I love the colors reflected on the water in the very early morning.

There is also a battleship on display on the waterfront.  It's the USS Barry.   

This is what I learned about her online:  

"USS Barry is one of only three remaining Forrest Shermans. She is the third ship to bear the name of the illustrious Revolutionary War naval hero, Commodore John Barry. She supported the 1958 Marine and Army airborne unit landing in Beirut, Lebanon. In 1962, she was a member of the task force that quarantined Cuba in response to evidence that Soviet missiles had been installed on the island. 

Barry earned two battle stars for her service during the Vietnam conflict. She was credited with destroying over 1,000 enemy structures. In the early 1970s she was homeported in Athens, Greece as part of the Navy's forward deployment program. Barry was decommissioned in 1982. She began her new career as a permanent public display ship in 1984. She is also used for training and shipboard familiarization, and as a ceremonial platform."  

People take tours aboard her all the time.  She's an amazing ship.