One new photograph, almost every day of the year

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2018—Slurping In The Surf

There were a couple of flocks of Willets foraging in the surf on the beach at Port Aransas on Sunday morning.  This willet had just slurped up something into his beak when I photographed him in the surf.

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2018—A Striking Difference

On Tuesday morning, we took the Jetty Boat to the Port A North Jetty so Susan and Dave could fish, Rose could search for shells, and I could take photographs.  We were all successful in our efforts.  Susan and Dave caught their limit with several Sheepsheads and a Redfish.  Rose found the St. Joe’s Island beach strewn with more shells than we’d ever seen there and in another first, I saw more birds on the island than I’ve ever seen in all my years of visiting there.  Large flocks of Sanderlings, something we haven’t seen recently on the Port A beach, skittered along the surf’s edge.  Of course the Gulls were ubiquitous as were Forster’s and Royal Terns, Brown Pelicans, and even a few Willets.

But I got most excited about a lone American Golden Plover that strutted gracefully at the farthest end of my traverse of the beach.    I was uncertain because my only other sighting of one was a nesting American Golden Plover that I photographed last June in Churchill, Canada.  The breeding plumage of these birds is strikingly different from their non-breeding plumage.  At first, I didn’t recognize it as an American Golden Plover because it looked so different but I suspected it was a type of plover because of the shape of its head.  I confirmed its identity with Moose. These birds have one of the longest migrations of any bird, wintering at the southern tip of South American and raising their young near the Arctic Circle in North America.  I was interested to see one on its return journey to its breeding grounds, in a different season and sporting different plumage.

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2018—Did You Say Something?

As I have often said, Sanderlings are my favorite Texas shore birds.  They’re usually skittish and don’t hold still for more than an instant but Tuesday  morning on St. Joe’s Island, none of the members of the Sanderling flock seemed concerned about our presence.  This one appears to be listening to something (or someone) from above.

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2018—Foggy Background

The fog shrouded beach made an almost completely white backdrop for this ring-billed gull as it flew over the surf on Sunday morning.

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2018—Port A Strong

I’m back in Port Aransas, TX with my friend Susan for my eleventh annual visit.  We’re staying with our friends Rose and Dave in a rental home just a few yards from the beach.  Port A was Ground Zero for Hurricane Harvey and the devastation from that storm is evident everywhere.  There are fewer Winter Texans here than in past years because many of the rental houses are either being rebuilt or are inhabited by locals whose homes were destroyed.  Every street sports gigantic piles of construction debris and there are vacant lots where in past years, homes or businesses stood.  But Port A residents are strong and they are rebuilding with positive outlooks for the future.  Port A Strong is their motto and flags sporting the motto hang everywhere.

Susan and I walked on the beach for the first time Sunday morning.  Dense fog advisories warned that visibility was minimal.  The beach was shrouded in a foggy curtain as we strolled down the nearly vacant beach.  The beach was flat and hard, quite a change from past years.  The piles of loose sand and parts of the dunes were washed away when the 12 foot tidal surge that hit following the hurricane washed back out to sea, taking the loose sand with it.

Despite the changes on the beach, shore birds were visible through the mists and seemed undeterred by the changes on the beach..  Flocks of Willets waded in the surf and my favorite shore birds, the adorable little Sanderlings, raced from wave to wave looking for delicacies to eat.  We also saw a Ruddy Turnstone and flocks of Royal Terns.  It’s good to be back and we’re happy to see the unwavering spirit of the locals.  Port A Strong!

For me, Sanderlings represent Port Aransas so I’m posting a photograph of a Sanderling as my first photograph from this visit.

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2018—Stay Away

When the Yellowstone wolf pack (we’re still unsure if it was the Wapiti Pack or the 8 Mile Pack) began to stir and returned to the bison kill, the alpha male warned the other wolves as well as the ravens to stay away.

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2018—Effie Yeaw

A few days ago, I visited Effie Yeaw Nature Preserve for the first time.  It is a nature preserve along the American River and I went with my friends Jim and Jack from the Placer Camera Club.  There wasn’t too much bird activity there except for a few turkey vultures sunning themselves atop dead tree snags and of course the ubiquitous Canada Geese because the Nature preserve is part of the Ancil Hoffman Golf Course.  We did see and photograph mule deer, several bucks and does that were not the least bit concerned about our presence.  This doe was just a few feet away off the trail.  I used my Nikon D500 with a 300mm lens with 1.4x teleconverter.

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2018—Beehive Geyser

Just a short distance from Old Faithful, other geysers spout, some with more intensity and these days, even more regularly, than Old Faithful.  Here, Beehive Geyser gushes like a giant broken sprinkler head.

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2018—Clepsydra Geyser

The Clepsydra Geyser in the Lower Geyser Basin is quite beautiful with golden yellow surrounding its aqua pool.  The colors are sometimes completely obscured by the spray and  mist from the geyser which seems to spout almost continually.  Old Faithful Geyser, which is not as faithful as it once was due to seismic activity over the years that rearranged the plumbing that causes its now semi-regular eruptions, does not have the beautiful colors that Clepsydra has.  The term “clepsydra” refers to an ancient time-measuring device that worked by flowing water.

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2018—Alpha Male

Identification of wolves and their packs is difficult in Yellowstone, even for experts.  We thought that the pack we observed at Bijah Spring was the 8 Mile Pack because the kill was at the most southerly end of the pack’s known territory but the NPS identified the pack as the Wapiti Lake Pack.  This kill was documented by many photographers besides us and a video made in the hours before we arrived at the spot was posted on Instagram by the National Park Service.

The Yellowstone Forever Wolf Fund sells a guide to the park’s wolves that includes the known number of wolves in each pack, the territory each pack roams, which wolves have radio collars, and males, females, and alpha wolves and their colors.  Identification of the Alpha Male in either pack is not definitive but the chart indicates that both packs’ Alpha Males might be uncollared black wolves.  While we watched the wolves napping in the afternoon sun, one large black, uncollared male got up and headed toward the kill.  As the other wolves stirred and one by one began to make their way down the hillside toward the bison, the black male alone went to the kill and began to feed.  All of the other wolves stayed well away from him while he fed.  He fed alone for about ten minutes before the others slowly crept into the kill area, still giving deference to the black male.  Here he approaches the kill site stealthily working his way through the mists from the hot spring.

 

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