Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge

Located on the southern end of Assateague Island in Virginia, the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1943 for the protection of migratory waterfowl habitat, with emphasis on conserving the greater snow goose.The refuge`s more than 14,000 acres of beach, maritime forest, saltmarsh, and freshwater marsh habitats are home to a spectacular variety of migratory birds, plants, and other animals http://www.fws.gov/northeast/chinco

I was privleged to spend a long weekend there at the beginning of November, with a group from the NY Littoral Society, lead by Don Riepe, Jamaica Bay Guardian, Queens, NY. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/31/nyregion/jamaica-bay-a-wild-place-on-the-edge-of-change.html?pagewanted=all

How we spent the weekend.
The weather was stormy.

There were Great White Egrets everywhere.

In the trees

Feeding frantically in the marsh
With a juvenile White Ibis
In the shrubs

Reflecting on life in the marsh
There were also Great Blue Herons
This one sat near the road for over an hour,
 providing delight to numerous photographers.
I believe it is a three year old.
Some birds neglected to pose. These included Kingfishers, Eagles and Northern Harriers.

Gulls posed
Chincoteague is also known for it's "wild" ponies. They are not really wild, but managed by the Chincoteague Fire Department. Nevertheless they roam the island relatively undisturbed. Their provenance is uncertain..perhaps from a shipwreck.

A mare, possibly pregnant,
or just bloated from her feed.
See the paint brand on this male.
Another pretty pony
The skys had cleared by the time we had to leave
On the way back to New York, we stopped at the Bombay Hook Wildlife Refuge in Delaware.
Getting a bit lost, I caught only one straggling Snow Goose (life bird) from a large flock. Consensus was, that he(?) would probably not survive, having lost his flock.

There were Avocets (also life birds) out of my camera range..& these Dunlins were feeding in front of the Avocets.

The star of the show for me tho' were the Red Foxes. Closest look at these beautiful creatures I've ever had!

Time to say goodbye..
As the sun set.

To stand at the edge of the sea, to sense the ebb and flow of the tides, to feel the breath of a mist moving over a great salt marsh, to watch the flight of shore birds that have swept up and down the surf lines of the continents for untold thousands of year, to see the running of the old eels and the young shad to the sea, is to have knowledge of things that are as nearly eternal as any earthly life can be ~ Rachel Carson

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Nature Paints: Yellowstone National Park

Visitors to Yellowstone National Park have always been fascinated by the large populations of big animals; the wildflowers, trees and geysers. What was most fascinating to me however was the rainbow of colors produced by water, minerals and microorganisms. Microorganisms comprise the most significant biomass in the park.

The stunning blues are due to selective reflection
of blue light by water. West Thumb Geyser Basin,

Yellowstone lake beyond.

The stunning whites are Sinter a porous silica mineral.
Cathedral Geyser Cone.
Sinter can kill surrounding vegetation

Red/orange hues can be due to
Iron minerals or Cyanobacteria

The name implies blue organisms..but during the summer their color is masked by Carotenoids, orange pigments to protect them from the sun. Cyanobacteria are Thermophiles, heat lovers.

The Prismatic Spring even has colored steam
This is not a microorganism!
Spasm Geyser
In cooler streams, algae can flourish.
 Cyanobacteria orange, algae, green.
Porcelain Geyser Basin.
See the algae?

Porcelain Geyser Basin
The Emerald Pool is not green due to algae.
Sulfur deposits combine with the blue hue of the water.
 Elk are not algae either.
Most mineral springs are neutral to alkaline, but some are acidic. Thermoacidiphiles live in acidic springs.

Sulfolobus bacteria live in the Sulfur Caldron.
Dragon Spring. Dragons live here.
Mule Deer are not bacteria.

Nature even paints the grass in Yellowstone.

And hides Coyotes in it.
No post on Yellowstone would be complete without it!
Light fades on the Firehole River.
Sun sets on Yellowstone Lake
Fears vanish as soon as one is fairly free in the wilderness ~John Muir