Thursday, February 26, 2015

Oh my Snow!

It has been an unusually snowy February for Southeastern Virginia this year. On President's Day we received several inches of snow and sleet that shut things down for several days. Between the snow and the holiday there was less than 2 days of work. And it was unusually cold that week so the snow and ice stuck around. We don't get much snow and ice here so the cities only clear the main roads, not the residential streets. That is not normally a problem since the temperature usually rebounds and it all melts in 2-3 days. A week and a half later we still have some of that snow left. And then two days ago we received more snow. That one was just a couple of inches but it was really wet and arrived just in time for the evening commute snarling up traffic.  But it blanketed everything and was very pretty. And last night we got the big one (for here). I measured 5.5" - 9" around the deck on the back of the house. This was a nice, light, wet snow. So we are off from work again. We've been enjoying the birds coming to the feeders and went out for a photo walk and snowball fight. Here are some photos from the BIG SNOW of 2015.

Stay Warm,

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Wee-will Willet

It has been a while since I wrote anything and even since I spent much time with my photographs. But two annual events, the Virginia Wildlife Photography Contest and the Suffolk Photography Show, with deadlines around this time have made me spend some time reviewing my shots. And while I'm not sure there are many stellar art images in there, there are definitely some interesting stories buried in those images. So I am going to go back and revisit some of those. Here's the first.

The Willet is one of my favorite shorebirds. Maybe because it combines  a set of rather distinct field marks and frequent sightings along the Mid-Atlantic coast. These characteristics led it to be one of the first shorebirds I could reliably identify and was a common sighting on those early trips to beaches. What they lack is showiness, like the well-dressed Oystercathers or the insistent chatter of Killdeers, they make up for with familiarity. They also seem to be at least accepting, if not happy, of sharing the beach with humans. I can count on Willets being seen not just in protected habitat but right in front of the resort hotels in the morning.
This past fall my wife and I made our annual trip to the Outer Banks of North Carolina with a group of friends. We rent a house right on the beach during the shoulder season. The houses are packed pretty close together and even in the shoulder season there are plenty of people walking the beach; right alongside the Willets. This particular one was right outside our house and hungry. During only about 8 minutes I saw it twice capture a little nugget of yumminess. Below you can see a sequence where the Willet grabs something from the sand, walks around with it and then eventually eats it (notice the lump in its throat in the last one).

And finally, this is one of my favorite Willet photos. It is from a couple of years ago, again at the Outer Banks, right at sunset.