Mergansers, Hawks, and Turkey

Late morning yesterday while driving along Route 11/103 in Newport, NH, I spotted Hooded Mergansers in the Sugar River. I parked, carefully crossed the busy road, and slowly approached the two pair.

They swam back and forth with one female normally a bit away from the others.


Eventually I must have gotten too close, so they moved a bit upstream.


Early afternoon while heading home I spotted two Red-tailed Hawks sitting right next to each other in a tree near Route 4 in Lebanon.  This is the same area where I have often seen one the last few weeks above the fields between Ruddsboro and Ice House Roads. Unfortunately, before I could get a photo of the pair, one flew.  Here are distant, highly cropped photos of it departing.


But one remained and I was able to get a photo of it.  This is the first time I have gotten a relatively clean shot of the hawk in this area.  Other times the hawk has been hidden behind branches.

Speaking of hiding behind branches, earlier in Etna I found this turkey working on the crab apples in a tree.

If you want to learn a bit about how your mind can fool you into “seeing” something that differs from reality, click on the Blog below on Perspective and Light.


Perspective and Light

I recently took this photo of tracks in my yard. This is the way I took it with the bottom of the photo nearest me. But the tracks look “wrong”. If you study them, some or all look raised rather than depressed like they should be. How could this happen?  I remembered part of a lesson from the Photo Classes I teach and that provided the answer.

Here is a photo of a muffin pan.  Are the “dimples” for the muffins concave (inward) or convex (outward) in this view?

Here is another view of the same muffin pan.  Are the “dimples” for the muffins concave or convex in this view?

Most people will answer concave for the first view and convex for the second view. So what?  So what is the point of all this? What is the trick I am playing on you?

In fact I only took ONE photo of the muffin pan. The two image above are identical.  All I did was rotate one 180 degrees. 

We are accustomed to light coming from above and that conditioning is what causes us to sometimes misinterpret what we see. Photos don’t (often) lie, but our brains can fool us.

Back to the tracks in the snow.  Here is another view.  Again, I only took one photo — this one is rotated 180 degrees to cause the light to come from the top of the photo. Now the tracks look indented like they should be. You can compare it with the photo at the top of this article.

So the next time you are photographing animal tracks, or muffin tins, you might consider orienting the light “properly” or rotating the resultant photo.



Skating Connecticut River

Dr. S and I skated the Connecticut River yesterday morning from Wilson’s Landing north.  The ice was fantastic with some areas with a small pebbly surface and a few spots of open water.  

The first thing we noticed when we got on the ice were the leaves drifting downstream under the ice as shown below. 

We saw five others as we skated, but we mostly had the river to ourselves.

On a great winter morning like this, even flare can be beautiful.

We met a friend and his daugher.  

Three years earlier I partied and skated with them at this same spot. The next day I took off with him from the ice in the plane behind the girls.  The cover and insides of the Winter 2014-15 issue of Upper Valley Life had photos of a wonderful adventure flying a number of times with him and his friend in 1940s ski planes.

Back to 2017…  In parts there were very small raised areas that one barely noticed. They can be seen in the photo below.

There were places near shore that we stayed away from.

And a few spots with open water as seen at the top of the photo below.

We met a young couple.  She was making great swirls in the ice.

Here are more photos from this wonderful winter morning.


Winter Yard Birds 2016-7

Here are photos of a few of the birds that have visited my yard the last two months:  Blue Jay, Red-breasted Nuthatch, White-breasted Nuthatch, Downy Woodpecker, Tufted Titmouse, Mourning Dove, Black-capped Chickadee, and American Goldfinch. 

Click below for a cute hare.