Little Blue Heron in Norwich

Yesterday Chris Rimmer of VCE found a Little Blue Heron at Campbell Flats in Norwich, VT. He reported, “… and an immature egret/heron that was either a Snowy Egret or a Little Blue Heron. I never managed to get my spotting scope on the bird, but based on a 20-25 second view through binoculars as it perched atop a tree, I believe it was a Little Blue.”

By this morning a few folks much more expert than I had concluded it was indeed an immature Little Blue Heron.

I was fortunate to spend 13 minutes with this beautiful heron this morning. I normally do not like to photograph birds with backlight, but it worked out very well with this bird.  

This is how many large birds signal they are about to fly.


But it did not launch. It first needed to scratch…


… and stretch its wings.

Finally it flew.  I believe it was reacting to a farm vehicle that started up nearby.


Here are some more photos I took.


Photo Lessons

This weekend I gave two 3-hour photo lessons to two very enthusiastic photographers. It was fun for me, and I think they benefited from the time we spent together. Both Saturday and Sunday we started indoors covering techniques and composition. Then we moved outside to practice what was discussed, answer questions, and touch on other topics in the field.

Saturday was sunny, but when we headed to the Etna Library area the sun was softened by some high clouds. This allowed some nice flower photos that otherwise would be poor in bright sun. We photographed mostly with shallow depth of field to blur the background.  I like this one because of the background colors.

And then there were some fast-moving bees to try to capture.

One simple thing I stress when teaching is that if the sky is not dramatic and does not contribute to the photo, try to eliminate it. Previously I had photographed the nearby barn with very beautiful skies, but this day the sky was white. So I practiced another simple composition tip — sometimes a piece of the subject can be better than the whole.

Sunday afternoon we headed to Hanover and the Dartmouth campus. The other option was Moose Mountain, but it was way too sunny for that. The woods are too contrasty for good photos with full sun. But architecture is often excellent on a sunny day. So we took some photos of buildings. I suggested focusing on details rather than trying to get it all in. And I pointed out that sometimes shadows are an important part of the composition. 


I showed how to get a sun star. It is caused by diffraction (bending of light) at the edges of the lens diaphragm. It is strongest when the physical size of the aperture is small, which means both a large f/number and a wide angle lens. At any f/stop, the aperture is 10 times smaller at 20 mm than at a focal length of 200 mm. I wanted to create one at the very top of Baker Library, but a tree got in the way and blocked the sun. So I put the sun star on the top of another building.

We tried some panning. I showed how to create some motion blurs by zooming during exposure with a slow shutter speed.


While we were walking and looking for the next interesting subject, I got a few photos of people on the Green and along the streets.


It was a good weekend.

Wolfeboro Road and Tunis Schoolhouse

The Hanover Conservancy, the Hanover Town Library (aka, the Etna Library), and the Hanover Historical Society co-sponsored two outdoor programs about the historic Wolfeboro Road.  This road was first laid out in 1772 for the convenience of Governor John Wentworth so he could travel across the Province of New Hampshire from his summer home in Wolfeboro to Hanover for a Dartmouth commencement. The second of these programs was held last Sunday.

We met on the Hanover Center Parade Ground where historian Ed Chamberlain recounted part of the fascinating story of Stephen Burroughs, an infamous counterfeiter and con man. He was also a schoolteacher, library founder, horse thief, and author. Robert Frost wrote a preface to the 1924 edition of his memoirs. Stephen Burroughs grew up on a farm in Hanover Center where Ed has lived for almost 50 years. In Hanover, Burroughs was know as “the worst boy in town”.  Ed is at the far right in the photo below.

After Ed finished his entertaining talk, we set out to hike the sometimes-muddy Wolfeboro Road over Moose Mountain. We visited Ed’s beautiful yard and headed uphill past his Upper Valley Land Trust Conserved Alswell Farm land.

We had lunch at the col where the Appalachian Trail crosses just below North Peak. Our leader, Adair Mulligan, Executive Director of the Hanover Conservancy, asked if I would take a photo of the group. The light was terrible — very sunny all day and very contrasty in the woods. Nonetheless, I set up my camera on my backpack and, in jest, told the group they would have to stay in place until a cloud covered the sun. About 15 seconds later … a cloud covered the sun! Sometimes one just gets lucky.  Here are the dozen of us that crossed the mountain.

We headed down a steep, very wet, and muddy road with deep ruts and boulders everywhere. Then we heard the sound of a jeep coming uphill toward us. We couldn’t believe it and certainly could not believe it could travel up to the spot where we stopped to watch it struggle up hill. But it did make it past us. And then came another, and another.  I believe there were 8 in all. Here is a brief slide show of the craziness. They do it because they can, but maybe they should not be able to do this here.


We detoured off the road a bit and found some cellar holes from long-ago inhabitants. At the spot of the second photo below, two of us got hit by a bee, or similar. I got the photo quickly before warning others away. My leg was swollen for days. 

Reaching the part of Wolfeboro Road that can be readily navigated by normal vehicles, we visited a farmhouse owned and beautifully restored by Barbara Fildes and Keith Quinton. They also own and have restored the historic Tunic District Schoolhouse that we would visit next. Our shoes were way too muddy to go inside but I got a photo of the farmhouse room from the doorway.

Barbara showed us a few things she recovered from this room before the restoration.  One was an old penmanship course, something that is not taught anymore. 

We walked down past the old cemetery to the schoolhouse. 

Tables, chairs, lemon water, and delicious cookies awaited us out back.

Here are more photos of the restored Tunic District Schoolhouse. You can click on any image to stop it and then step through them at your own pace.


And here are a few of the cemetery.






Loon Chick on Lake Mascoma

Mothers (or fathers) and babies can be adorable. Loons certainly fall into this category. There seems to be something about this ancient species that is very attractive to many of us. The photos in this blog were taken on Lake Mascoma July 3 and 4, 2017.

Jann and I took an early morning hike near Lake Mascoma July 3rd. Near the end of our walk we heard a loon call. Peering through the shrubs between us and the lake we spotted a loon carrying a chick.

We hustled home and by 7:30 AM I had launched my kayak. I was carrying a camera with a long lens. Normally I prefer to stop photographing loons by this time in the morning as loon photos are best when the sun is very low. But I came to take photos, so that is what I did for the next 30 minutes. Here are a few from the first morning with the chick.


On July 4th, I launched my kayak in the early mist just after 5:30 AM.  

The light was low so I paddled up and down both shores for 20 minutes before photographing my first loon. The warm light of dawn and the mist on the lake gave the first photos I took a soft quality. 

The second parent arrived, and I was able to capture a feeding sequence. Whatever the chick got was quite small.


A few minutes later when the sun broke through, the character of the light changed dramatically.

One parent departed. I think they did a switch but I couldn’t be sure. I drifted with the parent and chick for 20 minutes taking a number of photos.


When the second parent returned it swam right by my drifting kayak. I got two photos of it 3 seconds apart with very different light and reflections.


But it would be another 25 minutes before the chick was fed again. Meanwhile the chick waited patiently on its parent’s back.


Finally a parent arrived with a fish. Unfortunately, the parent circled the chick and fed it out of sight. Oh, well…


It was a great two mornings — quite unexpected.