Early Birds

They seemed to know something was coming so they were out early on seed patrol before the wind kicked up.  So was I in my makeshift bird blind with the Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6 at the ready.

This Common Grackle appeared to be waiting for his mate.  A large bronzed black bird with a large tail, long legs and an iridescent bluish glow on his head when the light is at the right angle, the smaller birds give him a wide birth.

Just getting a shot of these Carolina Chickadees is a challenge.  Very quick, flighty little birds, they grab a spot in a nearby tree, dart down to pick up a seed then fly back to almost exact same spot in the tree to break the shell and have a snack.  The trick is to focus on the bird when he first lands in the tree then hold the exposure and wait for him to return.  He almost always will.

The Chipping Sparrows strike me as very quiet, patient little birds who perch and watch for a while before going for a seed.  Then they’ll come back to the tree, hold the seed under a foot and pop it open with their bill.  After a snack, they’ll just perch and watch the action for a while.  Easy to get a shot of, we have lots of them here.

Another rather patient bird, the Dark Eyed Junkos are another of the year round residents here. I’ve always wondered why so many  people in Eastern North Carolina call them snow birds because we get so little snow every year.  I suppose it’s because, when it does snow, their dark feathers make them easy to spot.

The wind quickly began picking up as the Nor’easter took hold, the birds took cover and I headed for the house.  By late morning, the wind was clocking at 45 to 50 miles an hour as the storm began its trek up the eastern seaboard. Have a good week.  See you next time.

Smothered!

Dawn on Wednesday brought ample evidence of what was coming that night. By nightfall it had started as very light sleet with snow mixed.

Living out in the country, our biggest fear is always the loss of power.  I had layed in enough gasoline to power the generators  for several days in the event of a power failure but the weather gods shined upon us this time and the lights stayed on.  I figure we got maybe 3 to 5 inches with drifts in some places up to 7 or 8.  Not much when compared with what the Northeast got, but down here where snow removal is the month of July, it was enough to bring everything to a halt. There was nothing to do but admire a winter scene we had not seen since 2010.

The crews had moved in the day before the storm and harvested all of the soybeans and got them under cover before the snow started leaving a pristine field of white looking west toward the tree line and the tin barn.  It’s been brutally cold here since the storm with overnight lows just a tick above zero. Serious stuff for Southeastern North Carolina.  Thanks for the look.  Stay warm. See you next time.

Photo Of The Week: Nor’Easter

The Sea Oats on the Barrier Dunes bend South as near gale force winds buffet the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

Windswept

Windswept

After multiple attempts to get the light on the ocean  where I wanted it, I finally came close to what I had visualized.  Of course, if you’re like me, you’re never satisfied and so you keep going back time and again for the perfect shot.  I’m not sure I can do any better than this.  But,  I’ll keep trying.

Particulars:  Nikon D750 Camera, 24-120 f/4 lens.   Shot with manual exposure, f/8 at 1/640, center weight metering, auto white balance, focal length 65mm.  No filters. I used a Slik tripod for the shot.

My thanks to those who stop by for a look. I appreciate your taking the time.  See you next time if not before.

Photo Of The Week: Back To the Birds

Big Snow storms in Eastern North Carolina are rare but this time around, the TV weather readers were pretty convincing with all their dopplers, models and statistics. Rain, they said, would turn to freezing rain as the temperature dropped.  Then sleet would pile on followed by snow.  In all, two to four inches would accumulate before the storm petered out.  Doesn’t sound like much but 4 inches here is a pretty big deal.  Snow removal here is the month of July.  I’m an aging radio news veteran from the days when news on the radio was actually quite the norm and I remember well the hype that kicks in when snow appears in a weather forecast, but this time, even I bought in.  I rushed out and bought five gallons of gasoline for our generator.  Freezing rain almost always means power outages in the rural area where I live.

The gasoline went in my truck.  The storm fizzled.  We had maybe a trace of snow and sleet but that was it.  No eye popping winter vistas.  So, I ventured down to my makeshift bird blind and spent the day with the birds.

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A little snow on the River Birch Tree would have been a nice enhancement but you dance with what brung ya.  A sack of sunflower seeds scatterred on the ground around the trees always works and soon the Cardinals and the Gold Finches et al were grabbing them and flying into the tree to crack the shells and munch away.  So I got some pretty decent shots.  One or two might find their way onto my web site.  Not bad for plan B.

Here’s the gear list on these shots:  Nikon D750, 70-300mm telephoto, Aperture Priority, Spot Metering, f/11, iso 200.  Slik tripod.  See you next time.

 

Photo Of The Week: Better Days

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These have been tough times in Eastern North Carolina.  Hurricane Matthew has brought more than a week of misery.  First, there was the storm surge, the rain, and now the floods.  We had been very lucky here since 2011 when Hurricane Irene came calling.  Matthew changed all that.  It was the storm that wouldn’t leave.  For us, it was the rain.  None of us here on the farm had ever experienced anything like it.  We had well over a foot of rain here between last Friday and Sunday morning.  None of us were surprised at news the Neuse River through nearby Kinston would flood.  What surprised us was word that it would top the record flooding triggered by Hurricane Floyd in 1999.  It did. The river topped out just short of 30 feet. All of the bridges into the city were shut down cutting off access to the city.  The main east west highway through the area, US 70 was shut down for miles.  The flooding reach as far west as Raleigh.  Interstate 95 was flooded out in several areas.    The rivers are cresting now and  flood levels will slowly recede but in so doing, all that water is making its way into the sounds along the coast triggering more flooding.  Things will eventually get better . The beautiful sunrises have already returned along the North Carolina coast but the effects of Hurricane Matthew will be with us for years to come. Have a good week ahead everybody and be safe. 

Photo of The Week: Big Blow

FAA

I’m guessing the wind was gusting up to 50 mph.  I was crouched on top of the barrier dunes at Southern Shores, North Carolina and even with my tripod planted in the sand, it was hard to keep the camera steady.  The sea oats  and  the ocean tell the story.  This was the first Tropical Storm/ Hurricane I had ridden out on the coast since the 70’s.  It was a sobering experience.  Nikon D3X  24mm lens.   Have  a good week and thanks for the look.

 

 

Photo Of The Day: Iced!

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We always get ice!  Seldom any snow.  Just ice!  The freezing rain started just after dark last evening.  By this morning, an estimated 1/4 to 1/2 inch of ice covered everything including, of course, the power lines.  How we escaped a power outage is beyond me.  There’s so much ice on the lines, you’d think the electricity would just freeze up.  Big ole Lob lolly Pine trees buckled.  Two just gave up and toppled over.  Huge limbs littered the driveway into the farm like some tornado had ripped through.  The Beach Road looks like the Polar Expressway.  Our Camellia Beds had the look of frozen spinach.  That’s a photograph of it above.  When I got up this morning,  I rolled out the portable generator and chanced a two mile drive to a gas station to pick up 5 gallons. It was slow going, never going over 20 miles an hour. Yes, I have four wheel drive.    I never ever think to lay in gas the night before.  Why is that?   I haven’t had to use it.  So far so good.  Tonight, no precipitation but the deep freeze has an encore.    Maybe some snow tomorrow the weather gurus say.   I’ve always had a suspicion the weather people are in cahoots with the grocery stores to share in the bread and milk bounty when the nasty stuff closes in.  I whine.  Thank you Lord for not making us Boston. Stay warm……and safe.