August insects in Provence

I went for an early morning walk along the edge of the vineyards in a small valley near Bandol in Provence.  The grapes were ripening and the wildflowers dying, but the insects, especially the dragonflies, were out in force.  The sun was very hot and the air extremely dry and dead leaves and dry earth cracked under foot.  There was a small stream at one side full of demoiselles and other insects.  At the other end the fading lavender bushes were alive with bees and the air full of the sound of cicadas.

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Posted in environment, General, insects, Landscape, Nature, outdoors, photography, Provence, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Whales and Seabirds at Stillwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary

Last Week I went whale watching on a New England Aquarium whale watching trip run by Boston Harbor Cruises.  I was with NOAA Stillwagen Bank NMS and Mass Audubon staff.  We had a wonderful trip counting seabirds and saw several Humpback Whales.  The weather was perfect – calm and sunny.

DSC_3788 DSC_3862 Above Cory’s ShearwaterDSC_3808 DSC_3809 DSC_3810 Above Sooty ShearwaterDSC_3858 DSC_3860 DSC_4014 DSC_4015 DSC_4016 DSC_4017 Above several shots of Great ShearwaterDSC_3877 Humpback WhaleDSC_3878 Above – Humpback whale breachingDSC_3892 Below several photos of two whales together – one is tail slapping and the other is flipper slapping – DSC_3903 DSC_3904 DSC_3906 DSC_3913 DSC_3915 DSC_3919 Below are several examples of whale tail flukes out of the water before slapping down on the water – wonderful to see.DSC_3923 DSC_3932 DSC_3938 DSC_3939 DSC_3940 DSC_3942 DSC_3943 DSC_3944 DSC_3945 DSC_3950 Flipper slapping – DSC_3985 Fluke damaged by boat propeller – sober reminder of dangers whales faceDSC_4006Another whale fluke with a piece missing after being hit by boat propeller.DSC_4011A plastic balloon floating on the water in the Sanctuary – such a danger to many marine mammals, sea turtles and seabirds.

DSC_4020 New England Aquarium Whale WatchingDSC_4034Boston in the distance with the Harbor Islands National park in front

Posted in birding, birdings, birds, Boston, environment, General, mammal, marine, Nature, ocean, outdoors, photography, sea, Travel, Whales, wildlife | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Carlisle Cranberry Bog, ME

At the beginning of July I went to the old cranberry bog near Carlisle.  It is a beautiful place – full of wildflowers,  birds and insects at this time of year. here are some of the photographs that I took as I walked around a small part of the reserve.

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Posted in environment, flowers, General, insects, Landscape, Nature, outdoors, photography, wild flowers | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Seabirds of Christmas Island

On a recent visit to Christmas Island, Kiribati I was lucky enough to spend a short time with the local wildlife official on a rat-free island in the lagoon reserved for seabirds. Christmas Island is an important breeding area for several tropical seabird species including the Sooty Tern. It was not the breeding season for the terns but Red tailed Tropic birds, the Brown Noddy and the rare Phoenix Petrol were breeding and I saw several nests. The birds were unafraid of us and it was wonderful to be surrounded by Noddies and Fairy Terns and Tropic birds!

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Brown Noddies on the beachDSC_3137

Brown NoddiesDSC_3159DSC_3241DSC_3262

Frigate BirdsDSC_3062DSC_3064

Sooty TernsDSC_3082DSC_3054DSC_2925

Masked BoobiesDSC_2794

Red Foted BoobyDSC_3161

Red Tailed Tropic BirdDSC_3188DSC_3208DSC_3154

Phoenix PetrolsDSC_3189

Phoenix Petrol on the nestDSC_3195

Blue NoddiesDSC_3212DSC_3217

Fairy TernDSC_3181DSC_3180DSC_3177DSC_3176DSC_3174

Posted in birding, birdings, birds, Christmas Island, environment, General, Kiribati, marine, Nature, ocean, outdoors, pacific islands, photography, sea, Travel, wildlife | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Kiribati, The Warmth of Christmas Island

I visited Christmas Island for some meetings this week. It is the largest coral atoll in the world –  150 square miles or so and a lagoon about the same size.  It is in a remote area of the Pacific as part of the Northern Line Islands of Kiribati. I basked in the wonderful warmth of welcome from the people of Kiribati as well as the warm tropical breeze.  I had read as much as I could about Christmas Island before I went and in many ways it was as expected  – many coconut trees and houses with tin roofs or grass thatch – a beautiful lagoon and a warm pacific ocean – and a small population of welcoming folk, however I had not expected to fall in love with this special place and its warm and kind people.  I took many photographs  – here are a few to give you a sense of the island.

photo 1

Welcome at the AirportDSC_2976

The Captain Cook Hotelphoto 1-2

Bungalow on the beachphoto 3

View from my bungalow front door.DSC_2980

Beside my Bungalowphoto 1-3

Sunset that first eveningphoto 4

Dawn light the next dayDSC_3578

An hour or so laterDSC_3564

Looking down the beach in the opposite directionDSC_3029

Taking photos from the car when we drove down the main road on the islandDSC_3037DSC_3038DSC_3051

Looking out onto the lagoonDSC_3070

Fishing close to the harborDSC_3052

Fishing BoatDSC_3078

The Port in London, Christmas Island.DSC_3345

Fisherman on the LagoonDSC_3091

London from further off shoreDSC_3368

Taking pictures on the way back to the hotelDSC_3376DSC_3370

ATM machineDSC_3383DSC_3603

School visit – much wonderful singing and dancingphoto 3-2

School assembly hallDSC_3451

View of a corner of the lagoon often used for swimming and boatingDSC_3493DSC_3506photo 2

SunsetDSC_3562

 

 

Posted in Christmas Island, environment, Kiribati, Landscape, outdoors, pacific islands, photography, sea, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Afternoon Walk by the Lake in Ireland

The cottage is surrounded by trees including beech, oak, larch and Scots Pine.  The lane winds through mixed woodland leading to hedgerows and fields. These photographs were taken at the end of May on a walk through the woods and into the marsh by the lake just before sunset.DSC_2632DSC_2286DSC_2643DSC_2629DSC_2602DSC_2617DSC_2283DSC_1967DSC_2624DSC_2579DSC_2303DSC_2297DSC_2294DSC_2570DSC_2246DSC_2237DSC_2571DSC_2584DSC_2460DSC_2437DSC_2447DSC_2384DSC_2421DSC_2435

Posted in environment, flowers, General, Ireland, Landscape, Nature, outdoors, photography, Travel, trees, wild flowers | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Memories of China

A few years ago I was lucky enough to make a short visit to China. Here are some photographs from that trip that illustrate some of the unforgettable experiences I had in China – visiting the Great Wall   – the Forbidden City – the Summer Place – singing in the park – wonderful food – lotus flowers

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Posted in Architecture, art, buildings, China, General, Landscape, outdoors, photography, Travel | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Memories of Mallorca

This stunning island has beautiful landscape and buildings.  If you want to avoid the crowds on the coast go inland to experience a Mallorca that has not changed for centuries. Here are a few photos I took on a visit a few years ago.

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Posted in Architecture, buildings, General, Landscape, Mallorca, outdoors, photography, Travel | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Parker River National Wildlife Refuge

I went to Plum Island last weekend  – the Parker River National Wildlife refuge.  Wonderful to see the ecosystems on this barrier island. It was a bit early for many migrants, but as I am still excited by almost any eastern species the birding was fun  – a great day.  I took a few photos but could only manage a distant shot of the bird of the day for me  – An American Bittern.

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Posted in birding, birdings, birds, General, Landscape, marine, Nature, ocean, outdoors | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Flowers from a La Jolla Garden in March

Spring came early to Southern California this year.  The blue skies and riot of color in a peaceful La Jolla yard was wonderful after the freezing Boston weather and piles of snow.  Hummingbirds rested in the shade and Monarch butterflies flew by or briefly settled on  milkweed.

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Posted in environment, flowers, General, outdoors, photography | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments