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2019—On Silent Haunches

When Carl Sandburg penned his poem “Fog” in 1916, he may have had the Great Smoky Mountains in mind. The poem is brief but perfectly describes the ground fog in the Great Smoky Mountains. It creeps in and settles around the trees, obscuring them from sight, then suddenly disappears. If you are not familiar with the poem:

Fog

by Carl Sandburg

The fog comes 
on little cat feet. 

It sits looking 
over harbor and city 
on silent haunches 
and then moves on.

2019—Sunrise in the Smokies

The Great Smoky Mountains at sunrise—Nikon Z7, Nikkor 70-200 f/4

2019—Gristmill

Cades Cove is one of the more popular areas in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, America’s most visited national park. In some areas, the park preserves places that represent mostly forgotten ways of life in America. For example, at one time, families would visit gristmills near their homes a few times a month to get corn and wheat ground into flour to make bread. Back then, people made their own bread because grocery stores and bakeries as we know them today did not exist. The John P. Cable Gristmill in Cades Cove, built almost 150 years ago represents this bygone way of life. It has been restored over time, including the addition of a new waterwheel built in 2018.

2019—Black Turnstone

Until I visited Pacific Gove a few weeks ago, I had never seen a Black Turnstone. Black Turnstones are Pacific Coast birds. Their dark feathers allow them to blend in perfectly with the dark granite rocks that line the shore.

2019—Up Close and Personal

The rocks, cliffs, and air were filled with thirty to forty thousand Northern Gannets at Bird Rock at Cape St. Mary’s Ecological Reserve in Newfoundland last week. It is one of the largest seabird colonies in North America. We stood on a narrow ridge that jutted out toward Bird Rock to photograph the birds. Occasionally, one, like this one, flew close enough to completely fill the frame, as it jostled into position so it could squeeze itself into its tiny space on the rock.

2019—Dinner Time

Northern Gannets nest on rocky ledges in dense colonies. They raise one chick per season and both parents feed the offspring. They feed their young by regurgitating fish as the young gannet thrusts its beak deep into the parent’s beak. The young make their first flight after about 90 days and grow to be larger than their parents when they first fly. This chick isn’t ready to fly yet. It is still partially covered in down.

2019—Hovering

With tens of thousands of Northern Gannets nesting on and around Bird Rock at Cape St. Mary’s Ecological Preserve in Newfoundland, space is at a premium. Birds coming in to land often have to hover while they assess the lay of the land, so to speak, and try to find their mate.. They are not graceful at landing and their landings often seemed like semi-controlled crashes. This Northern Gannet hovers above the mass of birds beneath it before attempting a landing.

Nikon D5, Nikkor 500mm PF.

2019—The Challenge

When we were in Newfoundland last week, My friend Eric took an exceptional photograph of a Northern Gannet in flight with the Cape St. Mary’s Lighthouse in the background. When I saw it, I knew it was a shot I wanted. None of the rest of us had taken that shot. During the last two days, we all worked at getting it. And, to make things more interesting, our challenge was not only to get the shot but to get the shot with the light from the lighthouse on! In the end, I managed to get a few flying gannets in front of the lighthouse. Only one had the light from the lighthouse on.

2019—Room with a View

Threatening clouds approached quickly Thursday afternoon as we stood photographing Northen Gannets on Bird Rock at the Cape St. Mary’s Ecological Preserve. The light disappeared and we set off for the mile walk back to the vehicle. Rain dropped briefly on the walk back. After an early dinner, a beautiful rainbow appeared across the fields then hail pelted down as we retreated to our rooms. But, shortly after the hail stopped, we were rewarded with a gorgeous sunset. Our rooms at the Bird Island Resort face the Atlantic Ocean. As a resident of the Pacific Coast, I think of sunsets over the Pacific Ocean, sunrise over the Atlantic. Since we’re on a spit of land that juts from Newfoundland and is surrounded on three sides by the ocean we got to enjoy an Atlantic sunset. I definitely have a room with a view. I took this shot by walking out my door and a few feet across the lawn to the fenced edge of the property which drops precipitously to the water.

2019—Northern Gannet

When we arrived at the viewing area for Bird Rock at Cape St. Mary’s Ecological Reserve on Thursday, this Northern Gannet was perched on a rock at the tip of the point directly across from Bird Rock preening. The Northern Gannets only occasionally landed near us on this rock. This particular side of the cliff is not a nesting site for some reason. We approached slowly, one by one and were able to photograph the gannet for just a few minutes before it lifted is wings and was gone.

Nikon D5, Nikkor 500mm PF Lens.