Places Remembered: Desert Drama

Amid many pressing distractions, I’ve managed a quick look at my archives for this date in history and found this image that I made 15 years ago from my window seat during a flight from Mexico City to Phoenix, Arizona. I think I had crossed the border when this scene presented itself, but I can’t be certain. It doesn’t have the resolution I’ve come to expect in more recent times, but I rather like its resulting larger grain, and I’m very fond of its abstract patterns and shadings and the way the plants bracket the various waterways.

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Serenity Sunday: The Foggy, Foggy Dew

On the morning of the third day of my fishing adventure a week ago, I was blessed with this view of the inlet that feeds Lake Otamangakau, as we approached it. I really do love a nice foggy morning, and they are very rare in Auckland. I would have liked to have been able to spend much more time with the dewy webs on the precipitously-steep stream bank, but they were beyond the reach of my physical and photographic capabilities at the time. Maybe next time I’ll be able to bring my serious tripod—and perhaps also a pair of stilts.

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Thoughtful Thursday: A Recent Reflection

I’ve just recently returned from a glorious three-day fishing excursion at Lake Otamangakau (sort of rhymes with “go to a rock now”) with three other members of our North Shore Fly Fishers. It rained the first day, but then we had two days of weather that one dreams about, with clear skies and only very slight winds. The little lake is about 13 km northwest of the town of Turangi and one can clearly see the three volcanic mountains that are the central feature of the National Park. The main one, to the left of center, is Tongariro; the dramatic cone just to the right of it is Ngauruhoe, and the snow-capped beauty at the right is Ruapehu. I am seldom a fan of having the horizon in the middle of an image but, hey, sometimes it works. And what a wonderful way to ease into autumn.

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Webnesday (67) Trapeze Artist?

Late yesterday (Webnesday) CD found this little spider in our kitchen and called it to my attention. I carefully eased it into a small container with a flower to keep it for the night. Today I released it onto a different flower (a type of dandelion) from our garden before releasing it. My research indicates that it’s a trapezoid crab spider (Sidymella trapezia); I think it was a female but I’m not sure (the females reach a length of 6 mm and the males 4 mm). I measured the diameter of the flower at 4 cm, so I’m pretty confident of my guess. They are also found in Australia and South America. (Click on a photo for a larger view.)

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Webnesday (66): Long-Jaw Silver

The day before yesterday Squiddy came and tapped on our window. She had discovered a spider that we had both been hoping to find some day, but which had so far eluded us. It was a female Leucauge dromedaria, commonly known as a humped silver orb spider. It belongs to the long-jawed orb weavers and is native to New Zealand, Australia, and also some South Pacific Islands. She was quite happy to explore a branch of swan plant (Gomphocarpus physocarpus), a southeast African variety of milkweed which is, by far the universally-preferred food plant here for our many Monarch butterfly caterpillars. As usual, if you’d like a more detailed view, just click on one of the photos.

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Menagerie Monday: Figuratively Speaking

One of the trees that we acquired when we bought our place here in Auckland three years ago was a fig. Frankly, I have had many chances to sample (candied) figs in my younger days, and I must admit that I cannot remember ever having been impressed. However, I try to be always open to (most) new opportunities, and I had never sampled a fresh fig right off the tree until we moved here. I can’t say that it matches other fruits in our little orchard, but it’s a little better than I expected. On the other hand, there are birds that are very fond of them, among which are the wonderful silvereyes (Zosterops lateralis). They are very small, with a maximum length of about 12 cm (4.7 inches), and very active and difficult to catch with a camera. As our figs mature, however, they are increasingly attracted to them, and they provided me with a few minutes of opportunity yesterday. Aren’t they lovely? (See also my last post from two years ago featuring them, here.)

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World Whale Day

Tomorrow, the third Saturday in February, is World Whale Day, which has been observed on this date since 1980. I’d like to offer a few images from two encounters that come immediately to mind. I made the first in the Hauraki Gulf, during an excursion from Auckland, New Zealand, in 2005, while I had only dreams (and no firm plans) ever to reside here. It’s a pair of Orcas, with the Auckland skyline in the background. These last two are fond memories of humpbacks from a cruise that sailed from Moss Landing, California, back in November, 2014. May you have a safe, healthy, whale of a day.

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Monday Menagerie: Feathery Flashback

As high summer has us in its grip here in the Southern Hemisphere, with near-drought conditions again threatening us with brown grass and the start of cracks in the soil, I’ve gone back in my archives to six years ago, to a welcome relief from a several-month-long winter drought when we lived in Nebraska. The relief came in the form of a beautiful snowfall that started around 9:30 in the morning and lasted for about 5½ hours. When I went out to shovel the driveway, I heard the unmistakable chittering and cooing of several turkeys calling softly to each other, a sound I hadn’t heard for a couple of months. I spied a flock of ten toms slowly working their way in my direction, so I slowly went back into the garage, put the shovel down, hurried inside, grabbed my camera, and slowly made my way back outside, standing very still and very quietly near the foot of the driveway. They didn’t seem to mind the click of my shutter at all, and we watched and studied each other for about 15 minutes before they ambled out of range again. It’s a memory I will long remember. Meanwhile, back to the present, rain is predicted—at last—for tomorrow. I hope it will come, as the land really needs it, with water restrictions and well-below-normal reservoir levels. Here’s hoping.

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Here Be Goblins (3)

Here’s another offering from our hike on Mt. Taranaki earlier this week. We were surrounded by three of my favorite forms of vegetation—mosses, ferns, and lichens. Today I bring you a sample of the latter. I would have loved to have a tripod to get a shot with greater depth of focus and my Nikon with a macro lens, but the weather and the available time resulted in my using my waterproof Olympus hand-held. Next time we get a chance, I hope to go better equipped and with more time for photographic preparation.

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Here Be Goblins (2)

Back in the Goblin Forest on the eastern slope of Mt. Taranaki, there were not only a great selection of mosses and lichens, but also a fine array of ferns as well. Both the overcast sky and the intermittent rain cooperated to produce my favorite lighting conditions. I believe these are Parablechnum novae-zelandiae, or palm-leaf ferns, or Kiokio (the Māori name).

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