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.

IMG_2917

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.

IMG_2676

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.

IMG_2451

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.

IMG_2330

Read more... )

Next! The North Rim of the Grand Canyon, and Antelope Canyon.
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... )

Outdoorsy

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.

IMG_2163

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!

IMG_1905

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...

IMG_0117

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:

IMG_1923

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!

IMG_1568

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.

The Sunset

Sep. 9th, 2011 02:53 pm
eregyrn: (-GHowl - windblown)
As mentioned: visiting my Mom a couple of weeks ago on the Jersey Shore, and the house my brother rented for his family came with a rooftop deck that was perched up higher than any of the other decks for a ways around. That made for a fun view during the sunset, so I went to get some pics.

Yeah yeah, I know, there is nothing more pedestrian than Pictures of the Sunset. I wanted to take some, though, because LBI is not the most aggressively scenic place ever, but it's home, and it can be pretty (even if it's a thoroughly over-built island). It's MY childhood summer sunsets and beach at twilight, in other words.

IMG_1288

More under the cut... )

Next: seagulls and sandpipers (or, what passes for Wildlife).
eregyrn: (-GHowl - windblown)
So, a couple of weeks ago, I went again to visit my Mom down on the Jersey Shore; because this summer she had her 80th birthday, and to celebrate it, my brother rented a house a block from her so that his entire family (grown children and spouses) could converge, since Mom's place doesn't have the room (and has a cat, to whom my nephew's wife is deathly allergic). I went down for part of the week to visit with the entire family, and as is my wont, took some pictures.

One of the things I decided to do was go up and visit the Barneget Lighthouse, which is one of the... well, probably the ONLY attraction of any significance on LBI (as we do not have a boardwalk or casinos or other familiar hallmarks of other shore resorts). My relationship with the lighthouse stretches back many many years, to when I was very small. To climb it by yourself for the first time was a milestone. To bike to it for the first time (10+ miles there and back from where our house is) was another. To bike to it alone, yet another. And like other landmarks in places with which one is very familiar, after a while, you take for granted that it's there, and you don't go. So every few years, I like to go back.

This time, I also decided to climb it, which is something I haven't done in so long that I can't remember when I last did. Mom had gone with me for the ride and the short walk, but didn't mind my leaving her to sit at the bottom for a short bit. (Well; she thought it was insane that I wanted to go up, and wouldn't I rather just walk out along the jetty? But no.) Built in 1857, it is the 4th tallest lighthouse on the east coast, and the tallest of the NJ lighthouses. It has 217 steps to the top. (After my experience last summer with Yosemite's Vernal Falls trail's 600+ steps, I was hardly deterred.)

IMG_1200

More under the cut, not for those inclined to vertigo... )

Next: pretty sunsets; gulls and sandpipers.
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.

IMG_1148

A few close-ups below... )

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

IMG_1108
More details below... )
eregyrn: (-GHowl - windblown)
First: if you haven't yet watched the video I posted last night, go do so! It is short and very cool. (It's a 100-second retrospective of fashion in the last 100 years in London, illustrated via a nifty dance routine and some extremely good editing.)

Next: as you can tell from the subject line, still playing catch-up. On July 4th, the Constitution is brought out of its berth and pushed out as far as Castle Island and Fort Independence, before being turned around and pushed back into its berth. This is apparently to rotate it so that it weathers evenly, and it's done 4 times a year. On July 4th, they make a big deal out of it.

IMG_1079

More under the cut... )

Finally -- It only occurred to me most of the way through the cannonade that my camera has a video function... and then, since it's a new camera, it took me until nearly the END of the cannonade to figure out how to start it recording. So I missed most of it, but here's what I got, including the horn-honking salute from the flotilla of sight-seeing boats afterwards, and at the very end, the sound of the little cannon on the dock being set off.



So there you have it! We may try to go down again next year and make a picnic out of it, as there were some nice places to do that, and it wasn't nearly as mobbed with people as we thought it might be.
eregyrn: (- Saw-whet - Spring2)
Yes, yes, still behind. Have some owl pictures from June!

IMG_0955

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.)
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:

IMG_0818

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.

IMG_0692

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.

raccoon1

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, some of you may remember a month or so ago that I posted to express my doubt that the New England Aquarium's new Shark & Ray Touch Tank would actually -- as billboards implied -- allow me to pet a hammerhead shark. And yet, this turned out to be accurate, inasmuch as their tank truly contains several bonnethead sharks, which are the smallest members of the hammerhead family.

A couple of weeks ago, [livejournal.com profile] maxineofarc and I went to the NEA in order to check this out for ourselves. And we had an excellent experience.

IMG_0487

More sharks this way! )

NEXT: more owlets!
eregyrn: (- Saw-whet - Spring2)
First, thank-you to everybody who answered the name-change question. I decided to go with it, along with the suggestion to make a note in the LJ's sub-header line. And I suspect that I'll keep using the seasonal saw-whet owl pics that I've been using for a little while, which ought to provide a sense of visual continuity. Not to mention that you guys who pay any attention to what I post are probably used to the types of things I post nowadays. And that won't change, as this entry will show.

So! I am also incredibly behind on posting pictures. Several batches of photos and interesting events/news behind, in fact. So let's get cracking.

IMG_0536

Way more owls to see this way... )

Finally, because it's SPRING: a very vivid flowering dogwood near the cemetery entrance:

IMG_0653

NEXT!

- petting sharks!

- owl developments the following week (or, this past weekend).
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.

Meanwhile...

IMG_4729

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... )

Winter Fun

Jan. 15th, 2011 07:26 pm
eregyrn: (-Saw-whet - cold)
Today, I went cross-country skiing for the first time, and did not even kill myself or break anything! This is a minor miracle, because I am not good at ice-skating; I tried rollerblading once and broke my elbow; and I have never been on skis before, at all. (I view the concept of downhill skiing with suspicion. But I always wanted to try cross-country. It's flat! That always seemed much more reasonable to me.)

What they don't tell you (except for how [livejournal.com profile] my_tallest totally told me) is that cross-country is only MOSTLY flat. There are little hills that you have to learn to go up, and deal with going down.

Anyway, I had planned to go to the walk-in lessons at a nearby ski track, but they were full. And [livejournal.com profile] katie_m was with me, and she said she'd done it before and it really wasn't hard, so why didn't we just rent the skis and do it? And so we did.

GOSH, those things are slippery. But by the end of the two hours, I was getting around pretty well, the stride felt pretty natural, and I even managed one smaller downhill, and then one bigger downhill (where the wind blew back my hair and everything!) without falling at all. Woo! So yes, I would like to go again.

In a different category of winter "fun", I also bring you, belatedly, some pictures from this past Wednesday's blizzard. It was an impressively sticky snow. And then, at the very end, I bring you video of Emily-cat exploring the snow. (She really likes walking outside, even when it's cold and snowy. Alas, I just barely did not turn on the video soon enough to catch her rolling in it. But then her little feet get cold and she wants to go in.)

Pictures this way... )
Finally: Emily is Adventure-Cat.



(The sky looks blue in the pan up at the end there, but it's not. It's actually a very very dark grey, as this was from the middle of the storm.)

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