Western Beauties

BryceSunset_wordpressClouds glide over weathered rock. Their shades of red complement each other during sunset at Bryce Canyon National Park.Sandstone_wordpressThe colorful and steep cliffs at Zion National Park are the result of millions of years of force upon layers of sandstone by winds, ice and Utah’s Virgin River. ZionEntrance_wordpressThe entrance to Zion from the east; an astonishing display of rock and sky.

“Nature is a painting for us, day after day, pictures of infinite beauty.” – John Ruskin

Night Sky at Bryce

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Far from any light pollution, Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah is a sanctuary for natural darkness. The Milky Way and thousands of stars are visible but the camera, coupled with a long exposure, captures even more stars than we can see. The tree on the left points to the planet Jupiter in this photo taken on a moonless night last week.

“Metaphor for the night sky:  A trillion asterisks with no explanation.” – Robert Brault

Clouds Over Bryce Canyon

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“Afflictive emotions – our jealousy, anger, hatred and fear – can be put to an end when you realize these emotions are only temporary – that they always pass on like clouds in the sky.” – Tenzin Gyatso (Dalai Lama)

A Lesson From Clouds

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A new, sleek three-mile-long bridge now spans the Hudson River between Tarrytown and Nyack, New York. Its concrete towers point to the sky.

“They never stand still. But they’re not in a hurry either.” – Terri Guillemets – A Lesson From Clouds.

Birds of the Jersey Shore

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Visits to three locations along the New Jersey Shore resulted in some great looks at some beautiful birds yesterday.  A female Black-Crowned Night-Heron tends to her chicks at a rookery in Ocean City.

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Male and female Night-Herons look the same but their behavior provides clues as to who is who in the pair. You may be tempted to think that this is the male as he appears to be watching the female do all the work. In truth, they each help build the nest and then both protect and feed the chicks.

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Night-Herons forage for food when the sun goes down. This is a juvenile Yellow-Crowned Night-Heron.

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An Osprey flies to its nest with a fresh catch at the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge.

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An American Oystercatcher at the Gateway National Recreation Area at Sandy Hook.

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The highlight of the day was the last bird I photographed. It’s my first-ever Piping Plover. These tiny birds, on the endangered species list due to loss of habitat, do a great job of blending into the scenery. They are difficult to spot but fun to watch.

Cape May

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This week, I was lucky enough to spend a couple of days in Cape May, New Jersey. I saw several Indigo Buntings. This one was particularly vibrant in the morning light.

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A Forster’s Tern was seen cutting through the wind while searching for fish.

A Surprise Visitor

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You can imagine my surprise to look out our back window and see this big, amazingly-beautiful Red-tailed Hawk on our back deck. I was very happy she didn’t fly away when I slowly slid the door open just enough to capture some photos.

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The reclusive Wood Thrush, photographed this morning, shares a mottled, white and brown breast with the Red-tailed Hawk. This makes for good camouflage as it forages quietly on the forest floor.