Wild Weekly Photo Challenge: Movement / Robin

Robins Bath 01
Robins Bath 01, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (click on photo to enlarge)

This is an American Robin who loves taking dips in the birdbath. He has established an almost daily bathing ritual, and is quite fun to watch.

Here he was this morning, back for his usual bath.  I hope you enjoy the photos!

Robins Bath 02
. Continue reading

Weekly Photo Challenge: From Above

Autographs in the Snow
Autographs in the Snow, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (click on photo to enlarge)

carpet of snowflakes
informs me of charming visitors
birdie autographs

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge encourages us to change our perspective on something and to share a photo of a subject shot directly from above.  I think it would be difficult to see more definition in the bird tracks at any other angle than from directly above them.

Wild Weekly Photo Challenge: Birds / Quest

Majestic Flight
Majestic Flight, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (click on photo to enlarge)

a splash of sky
rising out of the water
majestic heron

A Great Blue Heron on a quest for dinner!

This photo was taken just over a week ago at the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge in northern Utah, USA.  The Great Blue Heron is the largest of the herons in North America and is found throughout most of the continent.  They have been described as “graceful flyers with slow, steady, dignified wingbeats.”  They feed primarily on fish, insects, small mammals, reptiles and amphibians, and usually nest in trees or brushes near water’s edge.  They rarely venture away from bodies of water.  In Utah, they are a common breeding resident in the summer and nest in scattered colonies.  A few remain throughout the winter in areas of open water.

Note:  The website for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service states that the Bear River Bird Refuge is an oasis for water birds and “acclaimed as one of the world’s 10 best birding areas.” It provides habitat for more than 200 bird species.  It is definitely one of my favorite places to visit.

This photo is for the Wild Weekly Photo Challenge where we are encouraged to turn
our lens toward some feathery friends.  No one has to twist my arm to do that!
This is also for the “Tagged” letter challenge (letter “Q”) by Frizztext,
(“Q” is for Quest.)

Continue reading

Weekly Photo Challenge: Culture

Fremont Petroglyphs
Fremont Petroglyphs, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (click on photo to enlarge)

For this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge theme, I present images from two Native American cultures in my home state of Utah, USA.

The photo above was taken near Dinosaur National Monument in northeastern Utah.  These are petroglyphs dating from AD 100 to 1200, and were made by people from the Native American Fremont culture.  Some of the figures reach 9 feet tall and are located along a 200-foot high sandstone cliff.  Many rock art sites such as petroglyphs exist across Utah, and as with most rock art, they are a record of the presence of the people who lived there at the time.  (Fremont people were here until about AD 1300.  A suggestion as to why their traditions and culture disappeared here is climate change and worsening farming conditions, which did not allow Fremont people to easily adapt to for sustenance.)

Of interest to most general readers of petroglyphs is “What does it mean?”  Although archaeologists have arrived at certain general interpretations, “interpreting rock art designs is intriguing yet difficult, often impossible.”

How would you interpret these petroglyphs?

Now to the opposite end of the state for the next photo.  Tucked away into a ledge above a dry wash in the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park (southeastern Utah) is a structure from the Native American Pueblo culture.  This structure, located in the left side of the photo, is an Ancestral Puebloan granary (grain storage bin).  Built between AD 1270 and 1295, this type of granary was used to store corn, bean or squash seeds.  There are dozens of similar storage structures in this area, but few dwellings.  According to the park information, this suggests that the early inhabitants of this area farmed intensively but lived there only seasonally.

Puebloan Granary
Puebloan Granary, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (click on photo to enlarge)

“For many years, changing weather patterns made growing crops more and more difficult. Around AD 1300, the ancestral Puebloans left the area and migrated south. Their descendants include the people living in modern pueblos in New Mexico and Arizona like Acoma, Zuni, and the Hopi Mesas.”  (Source: National Park Service – Canyonlands)


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Spring Is Teasing Us Again

Daffodil Macro
Daffodil Macro, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (click on photo to enlarge)

snow melts into spring
and nature flaunts lavish costumes
flourishing blossoms

It seems like spring has been postponed for us again…and again.  Just when we think spring has finally arrived, it quickly withdraws, acquiescing to  snow.  This past Monday morning, we woke up to snow and cold temperatures, which will continue into Wednesday.

I took this photo exactly one year ago on April 17, 2012.  At that time, all of the daffodils were in full bloom and the tulips were just starting to bloom.  Right now, none of the daffodils have bloomed, although a few are close, and the tulips probably won’t start until next week.  The trees are only showing small hints of green, which will eventually turn into lush, full leaves.

So…we wait for spring…still…and then we will celebrate its real arrival.

This is also for the “Tagged” letter challenge letter “P” by Frizztext
(“P” is for Postponed and flower Pistil).

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Change and Clouds

Dramatic Clouds
Dramatic Clouds, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (click on photo to enlarge)

unsettled waters
sailing in flying vessels
clouds of change

The last line, “clouds of change” can be taken literally, or metaphorically.

These dark, threatening clouds rolled in so fast one afternoon that it rapidly turned a sunny day into a gloomy day.  In this photo, the clouds look ripe and ready to burst, which they did.  We got what felt like buckets of rain suddenly pouring down on us.  How quickly things can change.

 This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is to share a picture that says CHANGE.
The Wild Weekly Photo Challenge encourages us to point our lenses toward the CLOUDS. 

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(border texture used is PDPA Serve Life)

Wild Weekly Photo Challenge: Overlooked

Almost Overlooked
Almost Overlooked, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (click on photo to enlarge)

hidden yet unconcealed
overlooked in plain view

This is a photo of a little crab spider camouflaging itself on a dried maple seed pod (or a “ballet slipper” as I call it).  This seed pod was only about 1.5 inches long (~4 cm).  At first I did not notice the spider, and my intent was to get some macro shots of the web of veins running through the seed pod.  I had recently gotten a new macro lens and was anxious to start learning how to use it.  Only when I got closer and picked it up did I noticed this little creature clinging to it.  So I decided to make it part of my photography subject.  During the whole photo session, it cooperated nicely, and held perfectly still for the camera.  I only wish I had a tripod at the time to hold the camera just as still.

Crab Spiders usually have short, wide, flat bodies with the first two pairs of legs being longer than the back legs.  They are typically colored to match their habitat, and some can even gradually change to match the color of the flowers on which they are hiding.  Crab spiders ambush their prey, sometimes holding still and relying on their camouflage to keep them from being seen by their prey.  Also, their main defense is this ability to camouflage and they will hide or drop away from predators if they can.

This image is for the Wild Weekly Photo Challenge theme of “Overlooked.”  The great outdoors is filled with things that are often overlooked by most people. People these days spend so much time hurrying through life, tied to their cell phones, that they often forget to look around and see the overlooked things in nature that make our world so special.”  This is a reminder that there is beauty everywhere — sometimes you just need to do a little searching for it.

This is also for the “Tagged” letter challenge (letter “O”) by Frizztext.

Love is in the Air at the Bird Refuge

Grebe Courtship 1
Grebe Courtship 1, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (click on photo to enlarge)

dramatic performance

like a choreographed dance
instinctive courtship

In my last posting, I mentioned that we had seen far fewer migratory birds at the local Bear River Bird Refuge than the same time last year.  We went for another visit this past Easter Sunday and I’m happy to report that the birds are gradually arriving, although, still not at the level we saw a year ago on March 24, 2012.  The birds that have arrived since our last visit (at least that we saw) were a few American Pelicans, about 10 to 15 cliff swallows and LOTS of Western Grebes.  The refuge is large, so I’m sure there are many more recent arrivals hiding in the marshes.

The focus of this post is the Western Grebe, which you see in the photos.  They are the largest of the North American grebes and are fish-eating water birds that winter along the west coast of North America and breed on inland lakes during the summer.  The bird is a common breeder in northern Utah, USA, where the refuge is located.  Their preferred habitats are lakes, marshes and coasts.  They are graceful with long flexible necks, and dive into the water, rather than fly away when approached.  They spend most of the time in water.  They are awkward walking on land as their feet are placed far back on the body.

What’s so unusual about the grebes is their courtship display, which is among the most elaborate breeding rituals of North American wildlife.  Their mating display is among the most complicated of all.  A long pair bond is formed and strengthened by elaborate courtship displays including neck-bobbing, flexing their necks backwards toward the water, ritualized preening, head shaking, diving, weed carrying, caressing each other with aquatic vegetation, etc.  The bond is reinforced by a dance, or “rushing” phase.  Each bird glances at one another before exploding into a synchronous sprint, side by side, across the water’s surface, with their bodies completely out of the water, like hydroplaning.  They stand high, their wings held back and their cobra-like head and neck rigid and curved gracefully forward until the race ends with a headfirst dive!!  Wow!  (This dance was the reason for my haiku above.)

If that doesn’t sound cute enough, when the young hatch, the babies ride on the backs of their parents, sometimes as many as four chicks at a time, while the other parent dives for fish and brings food to them.  (Click here to see photos.)

Grebes build floating nests on the water, constructed of reeds, weeds and other floating vegetation.  Both parents take turns sitting on a nest of two to six eggs that hatch in about 23 days.  After the chicks hatch, the nests are deserted and gradually dissolve into the lake.  This is a perfect example of “green” recycling.

Our last visit to the refuge must have been too early for us to see the “dance finale” of this fascinating courtship routine.  There were several pairs, and we only saw the head bobbing and preening, but that’s ok.  It was still fun to see.  Here are a few photos of the beginnings of a courtship:

Grebe Courtship 2
Grebe Courtship 2, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (click on photo to enlarge)
Grebe Courtship 3
Grebe Courtship 3, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (click on photo to enlarge)
Grebe Courtship 4
Grebe Courtship 4, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (click on photo to enlarge)
Grebe Courtship 5
Grebe Courtship 5, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (click on photo to enlarge)
Grebe Courtship 6
Grebe Courtship 6, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (click on photo to enlarge)
Grebe Courtship 7
Grebe Courtship 7, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (click on photo to enlarge)

Continue reading

Weekly Photo Challenge: Future Tense

Future BR Bird Refuge

heartfelt invitation
excited for your return
spring migration

Doesn’t this body of water look lonely, eagerly awaiting the return of migratory birds to fill it full of life, including the adorable playfulness of a whole new generation of baby birds?

It’s still phoneography month, and this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge encourages taking another photo with our camera phones.  I took this photo with my iPhone almost two weeks ago at the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge in northern Utah, USA.  The water was mostly covered in ice still, and was too early for the migratory birds to make their appearance.  We heard that the migration would occur a little later this year because the ice was taking longer to thaw, but we made the trip anyway hoping to see some year-round birds including bald eagles.

One year ago, this section of water was about like you see it (minus the ice), and full of various birds.  However, having one of the driest seasons on record left this area and other units of the refuge dry or drying up by mid-summer, when we made our previous trip.  It was sad to see this so dry, but the refuge was also keeping and diverting water only in priority nesting areas.  At least we were able to see a higher concentration of birds in the priority areas.

It is refreshing to see this refuge full of water again and I am anxious to return when the migratory birds start arriving.  According to information from the refuge, the birds have survived worst conditions than last year, but lets hope the future is better and brighter for them.

Here is another photo I took last weekend, on our second trip to the refuge this year.  The bird is a Great Blue Heron.  This photo was taken with my Pentax DSLR.

Heron Silhouette
Heron Silhouette, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (click on photo to enlarge)

I’ve had several postings in the past related to this refuge.  The refuge is on a delta of the Bear River in the northeast arm of the Great Salt Lake, and is the largest freshwater component of the Great Salt Lake ecosystem.  It “offers some of the most phenomenal water bird watching in the Western United States.”  According to the US Fish & Wildlife Services, the refuge is “acclaimed as one of the world’s 10 best birding areas” and has “long been considered one of the most valuable wetlands in the intermountain west region.”  It is a 74,000 acre National Wildlife Refuge and is host to millions of migratory birds yearly.  Located the edge of two North American migration flyways, the Central and Pacific flyways, it is an important resting, feeding, and nesting area for birds in both flyways and is a habitat for more than 200 bird species.

The mountain range you see in the first photo is the beautiful Wasatch Range, home to many world class ski resorts and a host of other outdoor pursuits.  Further to the right (south) near Salt Lake City, and just into these mountains, is where I live. Continue reading

Spring Is Here!

Hungry!, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (click on photo to enlarge)
Launch!, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (click on photo to enlarge)

passionate wingsongs
carry loving nourishment
spring nesting

Happy Spring to those in the Northern Hemisphere!

Today is officially the first day of spring here, yet it is a gloomy, rainy day, which will turn into snow for the next few days.   Snow is still on the ground, and the deer are still sporting their heavy winter coats, however, yesterday was a nice sunny day and the American Robins arrived with their beautiful songs.  A sure sign of spring!

The Western Scrub Jays are gathering food more frantically lately and we hear the constant flapping of their wings as they visit the feeders and beg for peanuts continually through the day – breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks.  We also see the male feeding the female, which we learned is a way for the female to get used to the male feeding her while she sits on the nest for about three weeks straight, incubating their eggs.  Nesting should begin soon!

The photos above were taken yesterday and are of the same male scrub jay.  The second image is a combination of two different photos.

Continue reading

Weekly Photo Challenge: Lunchtime

Lunch, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (click on photo to enlarge)

This is a juvenile male downy woodpecker being fed lunch by its mother.  The juvenile was able to land clumsily on the feeders, but wasn’t able to feed itself yet.  Thank goodness for Mama!  (If you have been following my blog for a while, I’m sure you’re not surprised that I’ve tried to work a nature shot, especially birds, into the photo challenge.)

Since it’s phoneography month, this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is to take a lunch photo with our cameraphones, that is, if we have a cameraphone.  The photo above was taken with my DSLR camera, but the photos below were taken with my recently acquired iPhone.

One of my favorite things to do is to try different eating establishments with my hubby and mother.  From the fancy to the non-fancy, we’re game to try many different places and cuisines, which we have done more frequently in the last couple of years.

Most recently, a burger, fries, beer and a movie sounded good, so hubby and I tried Brewvies in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA.  It is a cinema pub “featuring first release and independent films shown in a pub and restaurant atmosphere.”  Here, you can order a meal and drinks at the bar, load them up on a tray, take them into the movie theatre with you, and even play some pool or a pinball machine afterwards.  Narrow tables are located in front of each row of theatre seats where you can set your food.  It is an older establishment, so the theatre is not fancy.  We watched Django, which was shown from a movie reel.  It had been a while since I had seen the occasional vertical lines in the picture and heard the movie projector running in the back room.

The drinks: For hubby, a Detour Double India Pale Ale, 9.5% abv. For me, since I’m a lightweight when it comes to alcohol and I prefer still to be standing after a drink, I went for the hard apple cider in a much smaller bottle than the IPA and less alcohol content.

The bartender had a “great suggestion” to combine the cider and Guinness together, and gave me a small amount of Guinness to try it out. I took a small swig of Guinness combined with a small swig of cider and decided that the taste wasn’t my cup of tea. I prefer to enjoy each one independent of the other.

Finally the food! I ordered a wild salmon burger with caramelized onions, chunks of roasted garlic and blue cheese crumbles. What a yummy combination that was! Oh, and it came with home made wedge cut fries.

Overall, it was a nice way to spend the afternoon!

Continue reading

Weekly Photo Challenge: Lost in the Details

Part of a dinosaur leg bone fossil imbedded in a large rock face.  There also appears to be clam fossils along the lower right side of the bone.  (See the hand at the top right corner for perspective on size.)

Part of a dinosaur leg bone fossil imbedded in a large rock face. There also appears to be clam fossils along the lower right side of the bone. (See the hand at the top right corner for perspective on size.)

150 million year old fossilized clam shells imbedded in a large rock face.  (I hope hubby is not upset that I didn't get a model release for his fingers!)

150 million year old fossilized clam shells imbedded in a large rock face. (I hope hubby is not upset that I didn’t get a model release for his fingers!)

Dinosaur National Monument, located on the border between northeast Utah, USA and northwest Colorado, USA, is the only national park area set up to protect a historic dinosaur quarry.  It is one of the world’s best windows into the late Jurassic period and is home to an amazing display of fossils from this era.  The vast diversity of plant and animal fossils found there helps reveal its ancient environment.  (Click here to see my previous post on this monument.)

Along the park’s Fossil Discovery Trail, one can view a few large dinosaur bones and bone fragments that are imbedded in the rock face along the Morrison Formation spur trail.  These dinosaurs lived approximately 150 million years ago.  Approximately 163 million years ago, the area was an ocean environment.  If you look carefully, you can find small clam-like fossils and one-hundred-million-year-old fish scales!

One could definitely get lost in the detail looking at both large and small fossils imbedded in these large rock faces.  Fascinating to realize how ancient the remains are!

Sign at the beginning of the trail.

Sign at the beginning of the trail.

Morrison Formation spur trail at Dinosaur National Monument

Morrison Formation spur trail at Dinosaur National Monument

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is to share a photo that means Lost in the Details to you.  (This challenge is about getting lost in the details. Once you’ve found a subject you want to photograph, challenge yourself to work a little further into the scene.)

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Forward

Moving Forward Through Storms
Moving Forward Through Storms, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (click on photo to enlarge)

the snow will still fall
paths and journeys will shift
moving forward

This is a combined photo and doodle image, which I worked on this morning in the warmth of my home and surrounded outside by one of a few snowstorms we are receiving this week.  Also, this blog, which includes my explorations and experiments with photography, digital manipulations, doodling, haiku, etc., was created in 2011 as a therapeutic way for me to move forward in the midst of many developing health issues and chronic pain.

Here is a larger version of the doodle.  I created it on my iPad using the Paper by 53 and ArtStudio apps.  Before moving forward with more doodling recently, my attempts consisted of very bad stick figure drawings.  🙂

Moving out the Negative

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge
is to share a picture that says FORWARD to you.

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(kk textures used: edith and sybil)

Weekly Photo Challenge: Kiss

Scrub Jay Kiss
Scrub Jay Kiss, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (click on photo to enlarge)

winter bling
enhances my allure
snow kisses

…and here’s also a KISS photo I took in Brugge (Bruges), Belgium:

Romance, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (click on photo to enlarge)

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge
is to share a picture that means KISS to you.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Home

Home, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (click on photo to enlarge)

priceless journeys
in seas of euphoria
the sky is my home

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge
is to share a picture that evokes home to you.

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“F” Tagged: Flicker of a Flicker

Flicker Flicker
Flicker Flicker, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  Click on photo to enlarge.

a rare fiery flash
eager for a striking pic
hopefully next time

The camera is set and ready to capture a bird in flight.
I anticipate its takeoff and start continuous shooting,
hopeful and excited that, finally, I got the shot I wanted!
Darn!  I cut it’s head off!

(Has this ever happened to you?)

This bird is a male Red-shafted Northern Flicker, which resides in western North America.  It is a member of the woodpecker family.  Their outer coloring is mostly neutral, but they are red under their tail and underwings.  The males have a red moustache.  They are stunning when they take off, with their vibrant flashes and flickers of red from their underwings.  Although I have been able to get some good bird flight shots, I’m still working on getting some of the Flicker.  They are quite skittish compared to most of the other birds around here.  Practice, practice, practice!

This image is a combination of two photos taken in sequence using continuous shooting.  I thought that the trees in the background in the original photos were distracting so I used a texture to soften them.

After a long absence by me, this is for the “Tagged” letter challenge (Tagged “F” Challenge) by Frizztext, to share a short story or reflection, even an aphorism using a word tagged with each letter of the alphabet.
Texture used is Kim Klassen’s “Havana”

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Unique

Ladybug Handstand
Ladybug Handstand, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (click on photo to enlarge)

have you ever seen
a ladybug in a handstand
dare to be different

Glad to be participating in the Weekly Photo Challenge after being absent for a couple of months.
Post-processing done in Photoshop Elements 10.  Here is the original photo:

Ladybug Handstand photo

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is to share a photo
that says unique to you.

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Belated New Year Greeting and Hummingbird Profile

New Year 2013
New Year 2013, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (click on photo to enlarge)

I’m popping in to wish you all a belated Happy New Year.  (At least it’s still January!)  I haven’t posted for a while, but I’ve really appreciated your visits, comments and well wishes on my blog and by email.  Healing in general is slow, and even slower when there are already existing health issues.

This is my Japanese New Year postcard for 2013.  I have been creating these postcards, called “nengajo” for the last few years, and with my own twist!  (Click here to see my nengajo from last year.)  In Japan, these cards are traditionally delivered on January 1st, but there is no mail delivery in the United States on that day, so my cards arrive after the 1st.

  • Akemashite Omedetou Gozaimasu 明けましておめでとうございます – Happy New Year!
  • Nengajo 年賀状 – Japanese New Year’s card
  • Etegami 絵手紙 – Japanese word meaning picture letter/message, traditionally done in a postcard size meant to be mailed
  • Hachidori  ハチドリ – Hummingbird

This is an image of a female Rufous Hummingbird, which I created from a photo I took last summer.  Hummingbirds have different symbolisms in different countries, but the more common ones I’ve found are the following:

Tiniest of all birds, the hummingbird is quite spectacular.  It is the only bird that can come to a dead stop in mid-air.  It can hover, fly backwards, forwards, up and down.

A common symbolism of the hummingbird is joy.  It also symbolizes powerful energy, the ability to accomplish the seemingly impossible, and flexibility in life circumstances.  They are reminders that life is meant to be savored.  When in the air, their wings are continually in motion, which symbolizes tirelessness and perseverance.  The hummingbird wings move in the pattern of the infinity symbol (figure 8) and are often thought to symbolize eternity and everlasting life.”

 Wishing you a happy new year full of JOY! 

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