My wife and I headed out for some sunrise photography a couple of days ago, but as we rummaged around getting ready, we were almost too late for the sunrise – not quite, as you can see below, but almost.
Fortunately, it was a beautiful brisk morning and the fall colors were just about peak, so we spent some time photographing various scenery. I’m not a landscape photographer, but some of the reflections of the fall colors in a local pond made a few of the photographs worth posting here so I don’t lose track of them. Below are my favorites, generally south to north across the pond; click on the photo for a larger image.
The driveway to my daughter’s house goes through a lovely wooded area – beautiful year round, but especially in the fall when the leaves are at their peak. My wife and I were out photographing the sunrise this morning, and I was positioning the tripod-mounted camera for photographing their driveway when one of our grandsons came by on his way to his college classes. I just liked the sequence with the jeep. BTW, he did stop to chat.
Jeep and Fall Colors
My wife and I were trying to get back home on Friday, 10/5, for a grandson’s final football game of the season (6th grade), but we managed to carve out a few hours for a drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway between Roanoke and Hillsville in Virginia. We were glad we did. The weather was wonderful, and the colors, while not yet to peak, were quite wonderful.
Tree in fall garb along the Blue Ridge Parkway
As my wife and I were returning from North Carolina on Monday, we passed a huge display of Trillium grandiflorum along the roadway. (Several Trillium simile also included – we’ll see those later.) Amongst the display I found this double form of the plant. I don’t recall seeing one before. 6 petals, 6 leaves (bracts), 6 sepals (presumably, I see 5 in the photo, but didn’t count because I was precariously positioned on the roadbank taking the photo.)
Double Trillium grandiflorum
On Monday, Feb 4, I took a ride down to The Pocket at Pigeon Mountain with a couple of my grandsons – Chase and Jeff. To a great extent this was to get them out from in front of their computers/video games, but also, since we’ve had such a warm winter, to check to see if there were any early signs of spring. We walked the boardwalk and all the way up to and above the falls. We had a good time, and even though I was expecting some indication that spring is around the corner, I was surprised…
Waterfalls in The Pocket
From time to time my wife claims that I can be obsessive, but I don’t know what she’s talking about. On a completely unrelated subject, I’ve been to the Chattanooga Riverwalk at least 5 times in the past couple of weeks. On Mondays I have the privilege of spending the afternoon with two of my home-school grandsons, Chase and Jeff, so this week we walked a couple of miles of the Chattanooga Riverwalk, and then on Tuesday Cindy and I visited the pond next to the Curtain Pole Road parking area of the Riverwalk. They were a good two days for our birding – we were able to photograph three lifers we’ve seen during these couple of weeks of walking the Riverwalk. Here are some photos; the Gadwalls and Mergansers are from the pond next to Curtain Pole Road, and the Green-winged Teal was on the pond at Amnicola Marsh.
The Hooded Merganser (Lophodytes cucullatus) is pretty shy. This is typical of how it positioned itself.
A doctor’s appointment took me out to the foot of Missionary Ridge on Thursday morning, and since I was out in the vicinity I decided to make another visit to the Amnicola Marsh along the Chattanooga Riverwalk. I was hoping to get a closer look at the Hooded Mergansers we’d spotted a week earlier. And while those ducks were there, I once again proved that not only am I a rookie as a birder, I’m still a rookie as a bird photographer. I can get frame-filling photos of birds that act like wildflowers – allowing me to approach closely and spend some time taking several photos, as did the Canada Goose and the Mockingbird shown below.
Canada Goose – Branta canadensis
There is a small but scientifically significant marsh on the top of Pigeon Mountain in Walker County, Georgia. While my many visits to Pigeon Mountain are for wildflower photography, there’s not a lot of that going on in January, so my wife and two of our grandsons visited the Pigeon Marsh on Wednesday, Jan 23. This marsh was shown to me a year or so ago by Jay Clark, a gentleman with more knowledge of the natural history of Pigeon Mountain than any other I know.
My grandson inspecting Pigeon Marsh
On the 3rd day with sunshine after a week and a half of rain, we wanted to get outside. After church and lunch on Sunday, Cindy and I went up to Cloudland Canyon State Park. Yes, again! It was a lovely afternoon as we enjoyed the sunshine – and saw the temperature drop about 20 degrees within 30 minutes of the sun dropping below the horizon. Here are a half-dozen photos from the day.
The west-facing bluffs were still well-lit by the setting sun.
Cindy and I decided to take advantage of the first sunshine in 9 days by driving up to the Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge in Meigs County, TN on Friday (Jan 18.) Over the past decade this area has become a main overwintering stop for Sandhill Crane. We had gone up there in mid-November to check them out (and the excellent nearby Cherokee Removal Memorial Park,) and we did get to see a number of the cranes, but none closer than probably 1/4 mile. We were really hoping to get a closer look, and we did, but not quite what we wanted. We saw a couple dozen of these large birds, but none closer that probably 150 yards. After we watched these birds for a while with the couple of dozen other birders there, we went down to Harrison Bay State Park, and photographed some ducks and coots. Here are some photos.
Sandhill Crane at Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge – slight crop & straighten; watercolor filter applied
I’ve posted most of these photos on Facebook and Twitter already, but in my semi-retirement I am more and more using the Journal to try to track some of my activities – Cindy and I are finding ourselves asking each other “What did we do last week?” Some of those Journal entries are just private notes as to what we did, but some, like this one, might have some community interest. This is one of those.
Since I work part-time now, my weekend usually starts on Thursday afternoon, but this week some projects used more of my time earlier in the week so I finished up a couple of hours earlier than usual. We’d had rain (lots of rain) for 9 days in a row, and there was slight break in the rain before a cold front came through bringing more rain and possibly snow (some nearby areas got some; we didn’t.) I decided to take that break as an opportunity to run up to Cloudland Canyon State Park to see what the waterfalls looked like after all the rain.
The first waterfalls that I saw wasn’t one that I expected. During normal water levels you don’t even notice this one across the canyon from the main overlook. I suspect that during dry weather there may be no water at all in this unnamed stream tumbling down the bluff.
Waterfalls at Cloudland Canyon State Park after heavy rain
Chattanooga has done a great job of developing its riverfront and greenways over the past 20 years. The Riverwalk that runs for 10 miles along or near the Tennessee River from the Tennessee Aquarium on the riverfront in downtown Chattanooga all the way up to Chickamauga Dam is a jewel of that development. It’s one that I’ve so far neglected to explore except for a couple of small pieces. My wife, Cindy, and I will start trying to correct that neglect. On Friday and Saturday we walked and photographed a section of the Riverwalk near the Amnicola Marsh, visited the bridge over Chickamauga Creek, and also enjoyed a Great Blue Heron rookery on the Chattanooga State Community College campus. Here are a few photographs from this past week.
Red-shouldered Hawk – Buteo lineatus – along the Riverwalk near Amnicola Marsh
In early September I did a Boundary Waters canoe trip with a couple of friends – great time with them, and great to get back after several years of absence. One of the plants I photographed was a large shrub with white berries. I hadn’t been able to identify it until recently, when I was browsing my copy of Idaho Mountain Wildflowers – A. Scott Earle and saw those white berries in a photo. Slapped my forehead – Dogwood! Red-osier Dogwood has WHITE berries! A bit more research on what Cornus species were found in Minnesota ensured that this was Cornus sericea. I like reducing that list of “Unidentified” in my photo catalog.
Red-osier Dogwood (Western Dogwood, American Dogwood) Berries
Raccoon Mountain is near Chattanooga Tennessee, and in the 1970′s TVA built a power storage system on the mountain – they pump water out of the Tennessee River during periods of low electricity usage, storing it in a reservoir at the top of the mountain, then use that water to turn turbines to generate electricity during period of high demand. But TVA has developed it, as with many of their properties, for some recreational uses, including hiking and mountain biking. But it’s also a really nice drive, with great view of the area. Much to my embarrasment, I’ve only been up on the top once or twice. Today was beautiful, and my wife and I spent a GREAT day driving, walking, and photographing the fall colors around Raccoon Mountain today. Here are a dozen photos.
First, a view from the reservoir dam looking across the gorge that many refer to as “The Grand Canyon of the Tennessee River.” As usual, click on the photo to go to Flickr where you can view a larger version.
Fall colors in the Grand Canyon of the Tennessee River
Cindy and I took a drive over to Franklin, Tennessee yesterday (Friday, Oct 26). We were going to Carnton Mansion, but Franklin was in the cold, wet front that was headed our way, so we decided to do Carnton on another trip. As we drove back east, things got warmer and brighter. Here are a couple of photos from that drive.
Methodist Church in Marion County, Tennessee