Monday, October 21, 2013

White-faced Ibis

To the uninitiated, the behavior of birders when pursuing a rare sighting is puzzling. The recent report of  two White-faced Ibis at Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge near Seneca Falls, New York brought about a flurry of activity.  There is some discussion if one of the birds is a Glossy Ibis palling with its far western relative, or if the one bird is a juvenile White-faced Ibis  with its parent. No matter, really, if you just concentrate on their rarity and their beauty.  Take a look.

It has a brilliant red eye.  The bird's feathers glow in the sun with gold and purple and green. Oh my!  It has this long curved bill that is a specialized tool to probe in soft mud for food.  In the next photo I spotted evidence of what they are seeking.

 Can you see it?  Look more closely below.

Looks like a nightcrawler to me.  Given the intense feeding activity I saw, there must be a huge number of worms in the wetlands at Montezuma.

So there were two Ibis, and they stayed close together. I theorize it is an adult and its juvenile, but it would be hard to confirm.  The markings between Glossy and White-faced are compounded in the non-breeding season by differences between adult and juvenile. I did see this interaction which led me to speculate on the adult/juvenile relation.

The bird on the right with the red eye is likely an adult. Again, beautiful colors. Worth the trip to see them and watch their behaviors.

Paul Schmitt

Friday, October 11, 2013

Rickett's Glen at "Off Peak"

Made the two hour drive to Rickett's Glen State Park in Pennsylvania today with photographer friend Ray hoping for some peak autumn color.  The maple leaves were already on the ground for the most part and beech were mostly green and holding tight on the trees.  Seemed to be caught in the middle of two autumns.  Surely not peak colors.  So, what do you do?  Well, I grabbed onto any hint of autumn and let the wonderful moving water add some interest.

Above  Mohawk Falls, which I've been to at least a dozen times, I saw something I'd not noticed before. This decaying tree stump mimics the water's drop.

How could I miss that? This is actually two images with one presenting a sharp foreground and the other contributing a sharp middle ground.  So, it closely matches how our brain pieces together the scene as the eye explores the scene.  Your eye refocuses and the brain assembles the net result as above.

I spent a lot of time at the tree stump, but finally moved below Mohawk Falls for another view.

Further down the glen, I looked down at my feet to find a little of the lost maple leaves.

And yes, there were a few patches of color.

After a morning of photography on the rocky trail, we reached Waters Meet where a second glen spills into the stream.  As I devoured my peanut butter wrap, I watched a swirl of yellow leaves in the eddy below the last drop into the pool and hatched a plan for my final image. I made extremely long exposures through a dark filter to paint the swirl in the pool.

The 1.3 mile hike to the highway was thankfully downhill.  Reaching the car, I felt optimistic that I had done okay on a day when the fall colors were definitely "off-peak".  (Yes,  I've learned not to believe the state tourism reports of peak colors.  They all overstate conditions to bring business into their areas.)

Paul Schmitt