eregyrn: (-wolf curled)
(Previously: the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.)

K. and I drove back east and then north, heading for our last few stops: Monument Valley, and then later, Mesa Verde. Instead of just driving through Monument Valley (as I'd originally intended), we decided to stay the night there, in order to -- what else? -- see the sunset.


Read more... )

Fantastic trip. Very glad to have seen all of it, and very impressed with what a huge variety there turned out to be in the landscape and geology. And someday, there are parts that I'd like to go back and do, or things we didn't get to that I'd still like to see.

But I think I will arrange to do that in, oh... earlier spring, later fall, winter perhaps. NOT SUMMER.

(The end.)
eregyrn: (-wolf curled)
(Previously: The North Rim and Antelope Canyon.)

Because of the long day (with stops at Antelope Canyon, the abortive attempt to see Horseshoe Bend, lunch, etc.), we ended up driving into the eastern edge of the South Rim as sunset was happening.


Read more... )

Next! Monument Valley, Mesa Verde, and Petrified Forest!
eregyrn: (-wolf curled)
(Previously: Death Valley and Zion National Park)

Our next objective, after Zion, was the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.


Read more... )

Next! The South Rim!
eregyrn: (-wolf curled)
So, in early June, I went on a big trip to the Southwest with a bunch of fangirls, and it was awesome. And hot. IT WAS SO HOT. (Though not as hot as it would be a few weeks later in that area, after we'd returned home.)

It was particularly hot, since three of us decided to start in Death Valley.


Read more... )

Next! The North Rim of the Grand Canyon, and Antelope Canyon.
eregyrn: (-Saw-whet - cold)
As you are probably aware from the postings of other Boston-area LJers, we had a bit of snow yesterday and overnight into today. We actually achieved OFFICIAL blizzard status late last night (defined as "3+ hours of sustained 35 mph winds and 1/4 mile visibility") which, as the Weather Channel people never ceased telling us, is the first time Boston has had a REAL blizzard since the infamous one of 1978. We did not, in fact, beat that snow total record. However, we did have a 76 mph gust at Logan Airport last night, and a category 1 hurricane is 74 mph (sustained, granted), so well-played, nature.

I took a bunch of "before", "during", and "after" pics. You can click through and see any of them larger.

Many snowy pics below! )

Neighbors trying to dig out their entire driveway by hand. Mind you, the winds are still VERY strong. I then noticed that one of them (right) had, halfway through, gone and fetched a lawn chair, and just gave up.


I agree, neighbor. I'm not even going OUT there to clear off my car until tomorrow.
eregyrn: (Greenman)
As promised, I selected just 24 photos to represent the year, and hit every month except for April and September, I think. Click any to embiggen at Flickr.

Let's see if I can get one of those new-fangled LJ Collapse things to work...
I think I got it... oh it's just the old LJ Cut... )


Jun. 18th, 2012 11:38 am
eregyrn: (-Saw-whet - Spring)
Thanks to all for the birthday wishes yesterday. :) We actually had gorgeous weather here, so I took the opportunity to do something I've been meaning to do for a while, which was get out kayaking again. It surprises me to realize that I probably hadn't been out for 2 years, and as soon as I got back out on the water, I remembered how much I just plain enjoy it. The river is lovely and the feel of kayaking is lovely.

This time, I was excited to get out on a stretch of the Charles River that I'd never been on before. Charles River Canoe & Kayak has several rental spots, all of which I've been to, but I didn't know they'd opened up a new one upriver at Nahanton Park in Newton, on a 12 mile stretch of the river unbroken by any dams!

In a sense, this was my downfall; so was going by myself. Because whenever I go out to do things by myself, I always wind up being over-ambitious. Previously, I think I have not done paddles much longer than about 6 miles round trip. This time, I took advantage of a little canal that cut across a big loop of the river -- at the end of which, I had to actually get out and walk through a waterfall over rocks (in flip-flops, because I'm dumb), dragging the kayak under a bridge to get back to the river and go back the long way, downstream. In my head, this made sense, because paddling downstream is always easier, and I'd noticed on the way out that the wind ought to be mostly at my back on the return. But I sort of didn't do the math in my head to estimate how long a trip that would really be. When kayaking, I tend to manage about 3-3.5 miles per hour. I paddled 2 miles to get to the half-mile short-cut. That brought me back to the river 8 miles upstream, which I then had to paddle all the way back to the rental site. And while I was indeed going with the current on the way back, the current isn't so strong that it carries you at any speed. So, yeah. That was about 3 and a half hours' worth of constant paddling, more than I'd ever done before, and the river was twisty enough that I still had stretches where I had to paddle against the wind.

But it was great, even if my arms are kind of limp noodles today.

I don't have any pictures of any of that, because I don't tend to try to mess around with electronics in a kayak, since it's all so wet. Instead, have some pictures from a few weeks ago, when Diane and Katie and I took a day-trip up to the White Mountains in NH. I was the instigator of this plan, because it has seemed for a while now, to me, that it is ridiculous that I have lived up here for over 20 years and never been up there, and never driven up Mt. Washington.


Many more pictures below the cut, half of cool animals and half of scenic mountain vistas: this way... )

Conclusion: the White Mountains are really pretty. And I want to see more waterfalls.
eregyrn: (-Saw-whet - cold)
Last weekend I went and visited my Mom, only two months after seeing her at Xmas. The biggest issue here is that it's a long drive and I get SO BORED with all of the possible routes, which I have done multiple times a year for years and years. SO BORED. I have gotten to the point where I will plot a route that is out of my way and on slower roads, just so that I have something to look forward to. It takes longer to get there, but at least I'm mentally stimulated.

On the drive back, therefore, I routed myself through Harriman and Bear Mountain state parks (NY) as has become my custom, and then noodled my way up the east side of the Hudson Valley, discovering things as I went. Alas, a few of them I did not get any pictures of -- like the several deer and for-real beaver dams seen in the aforementioned state park. So for the collection below, you know it had to be truly arresting for me to have stopped to take a picture of it.

But let's start somewhere familiar: bird identification!


As I was getting gas while leaving the island that Mom lives on, I noticed a bird on nearby power lines, and I looked at it idly, as you do. "Huh," I said to myself, "that's the size of a mourning dove, and it has a long tail... but that is NOT a dove's head shape".

more below, including an identification )

Before we leave LBI...


Yes: the beach, still there. Actually, the beach is very notably wide right now. Probably because the island has not suffered a big storm in a while. This is high tide.

more beach below )

So, after the nice state park and the deer and the beaver-dams and all, I'm driving up the Hudson Valley on roads I'd never been on before, and I come to a junction where I turn from one little state route to another and WHAM:


Curious? See below the cut... )

Coming up this weekend: bald eagles! And maybe, if we are very very lucky, snowy owls.
eregyrn: (-Saw-whet - Autumn)
Of course, it is often owl-time around here these days, so what I mean specifically is, it's saw-whet owl-banding time!


More under the cut! )

Tonight is "friends and family night", so I'm going back. We are just hoping like hell any owls show up. There was a 4th owl last night who flapped her way out of the net before we could get to her, so we're hoping she sticks around and gets in the net again tonight.
eregyrn: (-Saw-whet - hairy eyeball)
I mean, can we talk about this?

Screen shot 2011-10-28 at 11.41.46 PM
eregyrn: (-Saw-whet - hairy eyeball)
Yesterday on my drive home, it was sleeting. Which, fair enough. But this morning as I commuted, I could see some cars -- not many, but really, too many -- with about an inch of SNOW on the roofs and hoods. In Belmont, MA. Which is outside of Cambridge. WHICH IS NOT THE FROZEN NORTH.

Also, on the radio as I woke up this morning, they advised me that there is a Winter Storm Watch (or Warning, I can never tell those apart) for my area this weekend, although it may just involve rain in the actual city area.


p.s. keep an eye on your local PBS schedule for Nature during the week of Nov. 16th, which I hear is when they may be showing "My Life as a Turkey", which looks to be just adorable.
eregyrn: (-Saw-whet - hairy eyeball)
Did you know that eels go through a larval stage? I didn't until I came across this video last night.

Apparently this is a ribbon eel, in the moray family, and its larval stage consists of it being an approx. 3" wide, 2-foot long TRANSPARENT body with a little head stuck on the end. And then it will go away, and become a real eel. How freaky is that?


Also according to the write-up, you seldom get footage of eels in this stage, because since they are transparent, it's hard for divers to find them.

It's just mesmerizing to watch.
eregyrn: (Hawk)
Remember the hawks at Harvard? We had all kinds of Drama earlier in the spring, and then the upshot of that was pretty unclear. But my guess has been that the resident pair didn't raise any young this year, because of the disruptions to the mating season.

I will sometimes see one or the other of the adults perched on a weathervane. But a couple of weeks ago I found BOTH of them perched on a steeple around the corner from my office, so I went out to get some pics.


A few close-ups below... )

Meanwhile, in Nature News, we have also acquired bunnies.

More details below... )
eregyrn: (- Saw-whet - Spring2)
Yes, yes, still behind. Have some owl pictures from June!


More owls behind the cut... )

Next time: the USS Constitution (I promise!), and a trip to the Jersey shore. (Not THAT Jersey Shore. I swear.)


Jul. 8th, 2011 07:42 pm
eregyrn: (-Saw-whet - hairy eyeball)
It's an inauspicious start to the evening to have to KILL A SPIDER in your CLEAVAGE.

brb, icked out FOREVER.
eregyrn: (- Saw-whet - Spring2)
So now we reach the weekend of May 28th, which marks the last weekend spent stalking the great horned owlets. We arrived at Mt. Auburn and, to our great shock, found that the site of the nesting tree was empty. Really empty -- it lacked the police tape that had been strung around to keep people away from the tree, and it lacked the crowd of people with binoculars and cameras that had been gathered there each of the other times we'd gone. And the tree itself of course was empty of owls or owlets.

It's not fun to realize that they are probably still in the area, but good luck figuring out WHICH tree they're in. My recollection is fuzzy at this point, but I think what we did was walk back up to the information desk at the cemetery entrance, to see if anyone had earlier spotted them and noted it; and I think they DID tell us that the owls were still in the Dell area, so after a detour to try to find a screech owl that had been reported (we didn't find it), we made our way back to the Dell, and eventually spotted the owls by, essentially, looking for other groups of people scanning the tree-tops and hoping one of them could point the way. Which I think is what happened.

We discovered one of the owlets in one of the trees that the adult was pictured in the week before:


More behind the cut... )

And that's it! I haven't managed to get back there since, to check up on them. As I said above, though, if the development of great horned owls is anything like the development of redtailed hawks, then I don't think the owlets will have flown off yet. They ought to still be in the stage of learning to hunt, and being fed by the parents. But as they get older and get more of their adult plumage, they are likely to fly farther and farther afield... and there are a LOT of trees in Mt. Auburn.

The summers when I've been able to stalk the redtails around Harvard have always been vastly helped by two things: the fact that there are a lot of buildings to perch on, which the hawks do, and you can at least SEE them on buildings; and the fact that at least some of the hawk babies have that extremely loud begging cry, which you can triangulate on to find them. While we did get to hear one of the owlets give some kind of call, which might have been a begging cry... it wasn't nearly as loud, and I'm just not sure if they do it as much overall.

Still, I should drop back in over there within the next couple of weeks, and see if any other birders have spotted them and noted the location. Maybe I can find them a few more times before they really do leave.

And here's hoping the parents use the same nest side next year. :)
eregyrn: (- Saw-whet - Spring2)
Meanwhile, when we last left the baby great horned owls in Mt. Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, it was the middle of May. We did go and search them out on the following two weekends. Below, a report from May 21st.


More below the cut... )
eregyrn: (- Saw-whet - Spring2)
Okay, so I'm hideously behind on updating. Therefore, expect to get some picspam posts for several days in a row. We have owls! Raccoons! Also the USS Constitution. (... One of these things is not like the others.)

First: raccoons!

As anyone with firsthand experience of them will tell you, raccoons are humongous, and frighteningly clever. At the Wildlife Care place I volunteer at, we are often wistfully remarking that it would be so cool if we had some raccoons for display or programs... but it's just not worth the gamble. Our building where all the display animals are housed has big signs on both doors that say, "DO NOT BRING RACCOONS INTO THIS BUILDING". It doesn't matter if the enclosures inside are sturdy and locked, raccoons are just that scary.

As it happens, there is a big tree about 15 yards in back of the main wildlife care building, which has a classic, big hole in it, and there is a raccoon family that lives there. The WLC boss was telling us on Saturday that she surprised one of the adults just brazenly ambling up the road back to the tree in the morning, to go to sleep. (There was also an adventure involving two raccoon families that had moved into the produce storage barn over on the farm, where they were emerging and methodically stealing the farm interns' lunches, before being evicted.)

So when I was out there Sat. morning, cleaning out the ducks' and geese pens, I looked up towards that tree to see if anything was visible. And yes... yes, it was.


Close-ups under the cut... )

So, that was fun. I wish we could get a look at the babies. They are doubtless inside that hole.
eregyrn: (- Saw-whet - Spring2)
So, I have a LOT of pics to share, spanning the last month or so. Pretty spring flowers! News on the Harvard hawks! Baaaaaby owls!

A tease:

IMG_0286 IMG_0404 IMG_0420

Follow the cut for more and bigger pictures... )
eregyrn: (Hawk)
No. However, there are signs that spring is coming -- redtailed hawks in nest-building mode!

In fact, today I was out around lunch-time in Harvard Square, unfortunately without my camera (it was raining), when I looked up to see a flock of pigeons startled up off a building's roof. When you see that it's always worth looking to see whether they were put into flight by a hawk -- and on this occasion, I got to see what I think was Harvard's redtail pair flying together up JFK street and circling around the area of the T station and in front of Holyoke Center. One of them then landed on the flagpole on top of the Citizen Bank, which left his/her partner nowhere nearby to land, so s/he circled several times more before taking up a perch on the weathervane of the First Church (a favorite of theirs).

Nice to see them out and about! And together.



This is NOT one of the Harvard pair. This is a different adult redtail, resting in a tree along Belmont Avenue in Belmont, right near where I get the bus in the morning. While waiting yesterday morning I happened to look up in time to see this hawk land in the tree, and pulled out my camera.

A couple more behind the cut... )


eregyrn: (Default)

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