Lunar Eclipse

The weather was perfect for Wednesday’s total lunar eclipse. The little bit of fog, low and below, did not get in the way of the clear cool skies above. In Louisiana the eclipse started early in the morning and was still partially eclipsed as the moon set over some trees at the edge of a farm in West Feliciana Parish, where I was standing with my Nikon 500mm lens. While watching the moon darken I looked up and to my left I saw the constellation Orion high in the sky.  You would never see this on a full moon night without an eclipse.
Image# 20141008_0101 Lunar Eclipse

Waiting between shots I remembered the many eclipses I saw of both the sun and the moon, while shooting night skies for three years in the early 90’s. Back then it was with film. The anticipation was exciting waiting for the transparencies to come back from the lab. Only then did I know if I got the photo right. Last night I only had to look at the digital viewfinder. Next May I will be teaching a night sky workshop in Southern California, where the sky is dark and the Milky Way shows up brightly.
Image# 20141008_0129 Setting Eclipse


Congratulations Poverty Point

Image #120327_0102-3-4 Mound A is the largest at Poverty Point.

Louisiana’s Poverty Point has been named as a World Heritage site, quite an honor for this fascinating historical park.  It joins Machu Picchu, the Pyramids and the Grand Canyon among other gems around the world with this special designation.  Poverty Point is the 22nd such honor in the United States. 

I have had the opportunity to photograph there numerous times, even at night.  Quite peaceful for it is hidden off major highways in rural West Carroll Parish. You can listen to nature’s night sounds as the planet rotates making the stars appear to move.  Just like I suspect the Indian hunter-gathers and traders did 3000 years ago. There are not many places left you can imagine yourself sitting in nature as did these ancient people.

Image #120328_0203 Stars glow peacefully above Mound A.

Significant is the fact that 2,000 people lived here for about 600 years without agriculture.  They lived off the land by hunting, fishing and gathering.  There are not that many places in the world where that can happen for so many people and for so long of time.  It proves what a rich environment Louisiana has. Bayou Macon had fish of many kinds, turtles, alligators and mussels.  Deer, squirrels and other game were numerous in the surrounding swamps and forest.  Birds such as wintering waterfowl provided more food and if there were any vegetarians the varied landscapes had all kinds of nuts, berries, and other editable plants.  The earthworks are impressive and extensive.  State archeologists have figured it took 5 million hours to build then all.  The largest is Mound A and it is shaped like a flying bird. Go visit this special place.


Two for One

What a great day yesterday! Sunshine, blue skies and enough clouds near dark for a great sunset. Best of all I photographed two state emblems in one shot. You can see in my Louisiana Nature Guide thirteen pictures of all the state animals, plants and minerals. In the swamp yesterday, Sue spotted a southern magnolia tree growing right out of a bald cypress. One is the state flower and the other the state tree. Pretty neat. Enjoy the spring it is busting out in South Louisiana! 


Heading North

Image 140210-033.jpg American Coots take flight

Watching a flock of American Coots take off from Bayou Copasaw in the Terrebonne Parish marsh yesterday made me wonder if the birds were thinking it's time to go north and find their nesting grounds. Those chunky black birds use churning feet and short wings to take off the water like a turbo prop plane on a runway. They need to think twice before flying away, we got another cold snap here, and it's still icy up north!

I had the shivers in the damp cold yesterday even when it peaked to 70 degrees. We were traveling at 30 mph in Steve Uffman’s bay boat over water that was 48 degrees, burrrrr!


Snow and Goldfinches

Sunshine or snow, the goldfinches and other winter birds love my feeders. The birds have been voracious in this cold and icy weather. These colorful feathered friends are the perfect subject to try out my new GoPro camera with, especially with its Wi-Fi hotspot hooked up to my iPad. Gosh its nice sitting in the kitchen drinking hot tea as the temperature was slowly climbing toward 30 degrees while clicking the shutter remotely.

Image #140126-0029 Goldfinches feed before the snow on 1/26/14

The GoPro camera uses a super wide-angle lens to capture close up action images of surfers, skiers and mountain bikers, so it makes kind of distorted view of my feeders. The new device will have some practical uses in my new book project concerning Louisiana Landscapes and other natural subjects. I will be launching a blog about this project soon.

Image #140130-0400 Goldfinches on a morning of snow 1/30/14

In this cold weather I am having a greater variety of species at the feeders. Some like the blue jay, red-bellied woodpecker and white-throated sparrows rarely come. The last few days they too were hungry for my feeder's seed. When the yard was totally white, seven male cardinals in their bright red coats decorated the white and gray landscape with vibrant colors. I once read that the state of Maine uses more birdseed per person than any other state. I can see why, they need a little color in their long white winters.

Image #140128-0364 Cardinal and sparrows feed in the snow 1/28/14