Friday, March 28, 2008

Piney River

In honor of springtime and Super Park Saturday, I am digging into my archives. These shots are from spring of two years ago (has it really been that long?!?), when I was living in Knoxville, Tennessee.

We took a hike, based solely on a listing in a guidebook, through this area. I'm not sure that you could technically call it a park, but the public was definitely welcome to follow this trail through lands held by the Bowater Southern Paper Corporation. Many parts of the trail followed one or another of several streams. This one had pleasing falls.

I don't know what type of feathered friend layed these eggs. The nest was at ground level, tucked in a rotting stump. I chanced upon them while looking at some wildflowers blooming nearby.

And lastly, I posted lots of wildflower pictures last April, but I don't believe I ever got around to posting any stonecrop, so I thought I'd throw this in here.

Mad Skills of Goat Girl
may not be publishing an SPS post quite yet - but all is forgiven, because she is seeking out tons of new park pictures in the four corners area of the U.S! She'll post as soon as internet access allows :) If you'd like to join us on our parkstravaganza, just sign up right here, and we'll check out your parks, too!

Monday, March 24, 2008

First Shots with Increased Firepower

This past weekend, my father handed down to me a camera of his that he doesn't use much anymore, a Canon, of course. I immediately put the 10D to use on the short but fierce snowstorm that blew through Saturday morning:

The snow fell furiously for all of about 20 minutes, just enough to coat the grass and trees.

Within two hours, the snow had disappeared and the weather cleared off. I caught the above shot before the snow (hopefully the last of the year!) melted away.

On Sunday, I was able to capture some very close shots of Mom's favorite little red-breasted nuthatch.

Mom regularly sees one red-breasted nuthatch, along with four or five white-breasted nuthatches. I imagine its the very same bird that I posted a picture of back around New Year's, here. I had much better lighting this time :)

Harbingers of Spring

My grandmother was a dedicated gardener, and her garden always had a healthy percentage devoted to flowers. But the flowers weren't limited to the garden. Over the years, she planted crocus bulbs throughout the yard of the house, mostly at the bases of the large catalpa trees that ring the house.

Much has changed, but still quite a few crocuses were peeping up through the grass this weekend. As a kid, finding these out in the yard was as good as finding easter eggs!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Parks are Super!

My friend Sandy and I really enjoy the ABC Wednesday and SkyWatch Friday group posts that many of our bloggisphere friends take part in, and it sparked a little idea in our heads.

Now if you've kept up with either one of our blogs, I'm sure you know that we like to get out and about and travel. And that both of us are incurable National Park junkies :)

Something you may not know is that we both have lots and lots of pictures from parks that we've been itching to post, and now, we've decided to give ourselves an excuse to post park pictures every week:

I'm not sure how the other groups are managed, or how everyone keeps up with everyone else who posts, but I'm imagining this as a really informal group. If you want to come and visit and see what parks we have up on a particular Saturday, that's great. If you want to use the emblem and post your own park pictures on Saturday, that's great, too! If you want to make your own emblem and post your own park pictures, why not?!? [NOTE: After some helpful comments from other posters, I am trying out the Mr. Linky system ... look for it at the very end of the post! Big thanks to those who suggested it.]

I'm planning on posting shots from National Parks all the way down to neighborhood parks. As long as its public land, its fair game :)

If you would like to join us, I will keep a "master list" of folks who are posting park pictures, until the point when (if it ever does) it gets complicated enough that we need a better organizational thingamajiggy :)

Since I wanted to start things out with a bang (or maybe I should say, splash!) here's my first park shot:

This is a geyser in Yellowstone National Park, which, to risk sounding 13 years old, is my favorite park EVER :) It isn't Old Faithful, but it was within spitting distance of it. Its name escapes me now.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Trailside Sights

A last set of pictures from the York Rail Trail hike we took last weekend:

I was surprised to see turtles hanging out on a branch in the stream. One hopped down before I could get this shot off. This was at full zoom, crouched on the ground, shooting under a bush, so it is not the best :)

Some remnants of last autumn's berries. Guess the birds missed these.

And finally, a tree root growing down through a rock outcropping.

Stop by tomorrow for something of a surprise!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Howard Tunnel

Howard Tunnel is supposedly the oldest railroad tunnel in the country that has been continuously in use. It says it on a signpost, so it must be true :) I believe the only train that still runs on this track is a scenic one for tourists, and it doesn't run very often. This rails to trails project is fairly unique in that the rails are in place and occasionally used!

The tunnel is roughly 300 feet long, and the interior is lined with bricks. Stones set into the walls proclaim that it was first constructed in 1840 and rebuilt with stone facings in 1866. I find it very weird to be able to see through the ridgeline!

This shot shows the brick surface of the barrel-shaped roof of the tunnel, along with the moss and other accumulations over the years. In several places small stalactites have formed. I guess its the calcium in the mortar that seeps through.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Rails, Trails, & Puppy Dog Tails

Yesterday was a beautifully sunny day, and temperatures were in the 60s. With winter lingering on, days like this are literally breaths of fresh air. All sorts were out enjoying the fine weather:

The little guy's parents were close by, just out of the frame. I'm not sure every dog in the world would have the temperament to ride so peacefully, but this one was having a great time.

These pictures are from the York Heritage Rail Trail County Park. The trail runs from York city to the Maryland line, stretching over 20 miles. We followed about 3.5 miles of it. I'll be posting some more from our jaunt in the days to come.

Thursday, March 06, 2008


I thought I was taking a picture of some geese, but that's not really what I ended up with.

I still kinda like the result :)

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Duck, Duck, GOOSE!

Forgive me if I seem a little goose-crazy lately :)

These geese weren't far away and didn't seem to care that I was taking an interest in them. I tried to grab a few pics from "goose level" and this is the best of that bunch. I like how the eye is drawn to the alert goose in the middle.

Now these geese were further away, but I took this picture out of the car window, so I cannot complain :) I like this picture for several reasons: the guy up front has his wings spread, the geese in the background are coming in for a landing, and the "blue phase" snow goose that you can see just to the right of middle has its head tucked back over its shoulder. Honestly, I was just trying to get a picture of the blue goose, the other activities were bonuses :)

And here's another shot of part of the flock. Some are milling around in a small pond, but most are just hanging out in the field. There were lots of geese on this little scrap of water, but none on the larger pond just across the road. Maybe they liked the shallow depth? If I had raised the camera just a little higher, you'd be able to see folks walking along the trail just behind this group of birds.

I have one more goose picture to share, but I'll hold out on that one. Its really more of a misfire anyway :)

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

In Flight

This is the short clip I promised in my last post. I wasn't taping when the geese first took flight, but I was looking right at them, and I still wonder how that many geese decided to take off at the same moment.

Please let me know if the video isn't functioning properly.

ETA: I tested it out on my own computer, and I apologize, the video is very grainy, which makes it hard to see the birds! But if you have your sound turned on, you can still hear them talking :)

Monday, March 03, 2008


I was at Middle Creek this weekend, too, although not at the same time as Dad. His post has some good general information on the geese, and awesome photographs of them. The gathering of snow geese was in full swing on Sunday. I saw an estimate on the Game Commission's website that figured there were upwards of 50,000 geese in the area.

At one point, an entire hillside of geese "erupted" and took flight, going a short distance to a nearby field and congregating there. A small portion of the monster flock is landing in the picture above. I will post a short video of the goose explosion in my next post.

To contrast, here is one lonely goose, making his or her way across a small pond. This one was quite close, and like a lot of the other geese, showed little concern about the people "flocking" to see them :)

Reflections & Patterns at Double Trouble

My previous post gave some general information on Double Trouble State Park in New Jersey. Here's a few of the more "artistic" shots I got at Double Trouble.

The surface water in the Pinelands is usually a dark, clear, brown due to staining from the tannin in the pine needles on the ground. It is usually very pure water, but it has an odd color. The dark water is excellent for capturing reflections, like the one above.

It looked like the park was planning on adding new sign posts to its trail system. These were lined up along one side of a maintenance shed.

The bogs were also partially frozen. I liked how the ice broke up the reflection of the pines on the water's side.

This is a close-up. Flowing water was welling up between gaps in the thin ice, as the wind pushed small waves toward the frozen end of the bog.

Double Trouble in New Jersey

No, I didn't get into any trouble :) We visited Double Trouble State Park last weekend. Double Trouble is in the Pinelands area of New Jersey. The Pinelands are very different from the heavy industry and thousands of homes that most people think of when they think "Jersey." Double Trouble is the name of a very small town that is now deserted, but was once devoted to mining, then lumbering, then cranberrying. Several bogs still exist and are harvested by the State.

A small group of mallards was enjoying the shallow water of the bog. The reddish vegetation is cranberry plants.

This is the view looking from the cranberry packing shed down across three bogs:

And here is a close up of the plants themselves. You can still see a few berries hanging around.

We learned that the cranberry plants are grown in bogs that are flooded in the fall, which eases the harvest because the berries float to the top. The water is kept in the bogs through winter to protect the plants from frost. These bogs are still worked more as a cultural aspect of the state park, but large commercial growers have bogs in the area, too. As you drive through the Pinelands, you can see large collections of these bogs, interspersed with lots of pines, and large fields of blueberries. I need to come back to this area during harvest time!

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Some catching up to do ...

I have been having too much fun lately, and not doing enough blogging. So now, I have a backlog!

These are from one of our recent ice storms. I went in to work late that day, to avoid the worst of the mess, and took my camera with me. I have to walk about two and a half blocks from where I park to the building where I work, and I snapped these picks along the way.

This is part of a church spire. I've always wanted to get "winter" pictures of this church, because I thought the white stone accents on the church would look great with snow on the ground. But ice on the trees seems to work well, too :)

I posted two other photographs from this storm here. Hopefully, we can leave the ice and snow behind now that March has found us.