Sunday, December 30, 2012

Bird Feeder as Snow Fell 12/29/12

Snow began to fall about 11:20 on Saturday, December, 29. The temperature hovered ± 3ºF freezing. The snow accumulated at a rate of 1" / 25mm per hour for the first two hours.

Several species of birds visited the feeder. Of course the squirrels had their nosed in there, too.

©Damyon T. Verbo - all rights reserved

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Bird Feeder First Anniversary

January 2012

Christmas day it was one year since I hung my new hopper bird feeder with integrated suet cages. I've placed close to 120 lbs/ 54.4kg of sunflower seed chips into that feeder over the last year. 

December 2012

Plus the +/- 8lbs/ 3.6kg black nyjer seeds I put out just for the goldfinches and the few suet cakes for the woodpeckers. In total I probably spent in excess of $300 in bird seed. A small price for the wonder of such beautiful creatures.

source:American Museum of Natural History
Besides, they are my closest link to dinosaurs

©Damyon T. Verbo - all rights reserved

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Woodpeckers at Feeder

I placed a new store bought suet block in the bird feeder on December 2. 17 days later I saw a Red-Bellied Woodpecker at the feeder. I have never ever seen a Red-Bellied Woodpecker up close before. It is a beautiful animal.

What I think attracted the woodpecker was that new suet block. I purchased it at Lowe's along with shelled sunflower seeds that I use in the main hopper of the feeder. I like the shelled seeds because there are no shells blowing around the yard or being tracked into the house on damp shoe soles. I digress. 

I must confess. I didn't actually see the woodpecker with my own eyes. I captured photographs of it on my time lapse camera secured to the inside of my breakfast room window. The Brinno TLC 100 is held onto the window by Fat Gecko suction cup camera mount. Any reflections on the glass are because the camera is mounted inside the house. Last year it was mounted outside and there were no reflection. This year I am lazy. The batteries need to be changed everyday and I don't wish to go outside to do that.

Above you will see several clips of Downy Woodpeckers at the feeder throughout the day. Individual photographs were taken at 5 second intervals and are played back at 50% of full speed. All of the clips on this post were taken on 19 December 2012.

At one point a Downy Woodpecker is feeding at the same time as a squirrel. That is the only bird I have ever seen at the feeder with a squirrel. I think that bird is either brave or hungry.

All About Birds - Red-Bellied Woodpecker
All About Birds - Downy Woodpecker
Lowe's Woodpecker Suet

©Damyon T. Verbo - all rights reserved

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Geminid Meteor Showers

©Kevin Adams -
Meteor showers fascinate me. Shooting stars streaking through the sky.  Laying out at night or in the early morning looking up into the heavens. I love it.

In my part of the world, the meteor shower season begins in August. It kind of works out that there is a shower near each of my relatives birthdays. That makes it easy for me to remember when a shower will occur. The next shower happens on my second son's birthday, December 13th. 

I have set my camera on a tripod in my back yard, in the past, to try and capture some images of the streaking particles. However, my suburban community is quite polluted with lights from parking lots and the near by county and state prisons. I need to get away to a light free area like the middle of a desert or high on a mountain top or on a deserted island in the middle of the ocean somewhere. Someday.

With that all out of my system, I was notified via email today of a short lesson on how to photograph meteor showers and I want to pass that on to you. Below is the link. Dress for the cold and get out and enjoy nature's fireworks.

How to photograph meteor showers

©Damyon T. Verbo - all rights reserved

Sunday, December 9, 2012

A Good Day in Valley Forge Park

I was in Valley Forge Park the other day hoping to capture some images before sunset. When I set outat 16:15, the clouds were dramatically lit, but by the time I reached the park the sun was already below the hills to the west and no direct sunlight reached the ground.

White Tailed Deer  buck checking the wellbeing of his doe downhillAs I drove along South Inner Line Drive, I noticed in my rear view mirror behind me several deer descended the hill, crossed the drive and continued down towards the log huts near PA rte 252. I got out of my car to grab a photo of the fallen tree that I thought was blown down by Super Storm Sandy. Once out of my car the one buck trailing the doe stopped, just behind the fallen tree. Even though it saw me, it didn't flee. It was watching me. It seemed to be guarding his doe. It stayed there for a few minutes, watching, guarding.

At that point in time there were several thoughts going through my head.

  1. Don't get too close to this deer with sharp horns on its head
  2. It is rutting season and the buck is in a possessive mood
  3. It might attack me
  4. An attack would cause pain
  5. I don't like pain
  6. This could be dangerous
  7. This is exciting
  8. There is no one else around
  9. If I were lying on the ground in pain and bleeding could I get to my mobile phone easily
  10. If all else fails and I am on the ground in pain and bleeding, the park ranger will find me when he closes the drive after dark
  11. My health care is paid up
  12. I hope my camera isn't damaged in the impending attack
I turned to find a location along the drive to capture a few photographs of the log huts. A car to two drove past as I had the camera to my eye. When I looked back towards the fallen tree, the buck was gone. I shed no blood and had a few photographs, my camera was still in good condition and the buck had his doe. It was a good day.

©Damyon T. Verbo - all rights reserved

Saturday, December 8, 2012

South Inner Line Drive Redoubt

I returned to Valley Forge Park one week after the first appreciable snowfall in the autumn of 2012. A big change. No snow. 

The two log huts are the same buildings I photographed with snow on the ground. This time from a different point of view, looking SSW down from South Inner Line Drive.

The sun was already below the hills to the west as I traveled a little bit down the drive. There I found redoubt #3, as listed on the official Valley Forge National Historical Park map. Near the redoubt were the two cannon seen below.

Looking S from near the redoubt on S Inner Line Drive.
Looking ESE with the redoubt in the near background looking E from the bottom of S Inner Line Drive.

©Damyon T. Verbo - all rights reserved

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Philadelphia's Capricious Weather

I once read in a travel guide that Philadelphia has capricious weather. I am not sure if that is true all year long. This last week the weather has been a coaster ride. We received snow November 27 and one week later the temperature was 65ºF / 18ºC. I had the snow brush in the car and I was wearing short pants. That hasn't happened since last spring, when I was too lazy to put the snow brush away in the garage.

If it doesn't chill down soon the spring flowering trees will begin to bud.

©Damyon T. Verbo - all rights reserved

Saturday, December 1, 2012

First Snow Valley Forge Park

I found time to visit Valley Forge National Historical Park to capture the first appreciable snowfall for the fall of 2012 on 27 Nov. All the roads that run through the park were barricaded by the park rangers except PA rtes 23 and 252. I could walk into the park but not drive. Some of the parking lots were cleared of snow and open. I chose to park in the lot near Knox's Quarters, also know as Valley Forge Farm, along rte 252. These photographs were taken within easy walking distance from that lot.
PA rte 252 looking southbound towards the Outer Line Defenses
Valley Forge Farm  (Knox's Quarters) along PA rte 252

Valley Forge Farm (Knox's Quarters) from the north
Valley Forge Farm (Knox's Quarters) from the south
Log huts across from Knox's Quarters along PA rte 252 and J.P. Martin Trail seen from the trail along 252
Log huts seen from J.P. Martin Trail along South Outer Line Drive
PA rte 252 looking north from J.P. Martin Trail terminus in parking lot near Knox's Quarters

©Damyon T. Verbo - all rights reserved