Friday, June 17, 2011

June 15 2011: Killer Deer or a case of Mistaken Identity?--on the Blue Ridge Parkway

This is my craziest outdoor experience I've ever had!

On Wednesday the 15th of June, my wife, cocker spaniel, and I arrived at the Peaks of Otter Campground, Milepost 85, on the Virginia Blue Ridge Parkway. We found a level campground site and parked our RV on Loop "T'. The campground is lush with quite a forest canopy and ferns and grasses everywhere. The deer here are quite used to people and generally don't run away when approached.

After dinner, about 8:30pm--just about sunset--I began walking my 28 lb golden red cocker spaniel (Murphy) around the RV campground. By the time we were walking along the upper loop light was gone; I spied a large, dark, stationary object ahead, on the right edge of the road by the leaves. My first reaction was that I had encountered a bear, but when I turned on my flashlight and pointed it at the object, I saw a large young female deer.

She was undeterred by the flashlight, so we slowly walked towards her, on the left side of the road. Her eyes followed us continually, until we were alongside of her. Murphy tugged at the leash to get closer, but I was wary of getting within the distance of her hooves. She didn't flinch or move.

I continued walking past her, but I kept my head turned towards her as I felt a little unsettled by this event. After she had followed us with her eyes and head for an arc of 180 degrees, I finally turned my back to her and continued walking Murphy.

Suddenly, I hear thundering hooves on the paved roadway, and the female deer rushes past us, dashing into the woods, and getting ahead of us--she then turns around and faces us! I've never experienced anything like this and am scared as to what this deer's intentions are.

I turn my flashlight onto her face and just watch her watching us, for about 30 seconds. I decide that this is not the time to continue walking this looppast here and instead take a left turn and head down a small path to the lower loop, all the while facing her and pointing my flashlight in her face.

When I get half way down the small path, the deer has not followed us any further--and I hear the voice of a fellow female camper who had observed all of this, asking me if the deer had won? I replied 'yes' and returned to my RV.

Below is the picture of my 28 lb cocker spaniel Murphy--do you think that I had encountered a killer deer, or do you think that the female deer thought that Murphy was a tiny fawn?

Saturday, March 26, 2011

March 19 2011 Supermoon Viewing

This was a perfect night to view the Supermoon--the closest the full moon was for the last 18 years! The trees near the horizon were leafless, and the temperature was mild.

My wife set me up with a spectacular viewing set-up:  a pair of Oberwerk 15 x 70 big binoculars on a Universal Astronomics tripod and parallelogram-balanced viewing assembly--which means I could view the moon for minutes at a time effortlessly instead of just for seconds hand held.

Add to this a special reclining chair meant for sky watching, and it doesn't get any better than this! Below is the setup on my deck!

From my Canon DSLR on a tripod with a 300mm lens with a 2x extender, I was able to capture this image!

Finally, while I was walking my dog and carrying a small Canon point and shoot camera, I took this handheld shot just to show that I did I see this moon in its "Great Pumpkin" mode:

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Dec 31 2010: Walk around Hidden Pond Nature Center Park

Every year right around New Year I visit a local park to check out the birds, plants, water and ice, and whatever else is evident.

This year I chose Hidden Pond Nature Center, a park less than two miles away--part of the Fairfax County (Va.) park system.

Today, the temperature was in the low 50's--quite balmy for the end of December. I started at the Nature Center and then wandered around the various trails, finishing at the caretaker's home.

This white breasted nuthatch was moving quickly along a tree along the perimeter of the pond--I was fortunate to catch this view of it!

Two items of note:  I experimented with a Canon Power Shot SD 4000 IS Digital Elyph camera for the first time--Steve Ingraham recommends it for use with Zeiss spotting scopes; I thought I'd give it a try in a conventional manner. Second, I wore a pair of NEOS overshoes through the muddy trails--these were a Christmas present from my wife. These are awesome! Excellent tread; they fit over my regular shoes--and are waterproof, as high as below my knee. There'll be a picture below.

This white breasted nuthatch was moving quickly along a tree along the perimeter of the pond--I was fortunate to catch this view of it!

This tufted titmouse was the next bird I saw.

The pond was slightly frozen and snow covered.

I found several patterns that caught my attention:

When I walked the trails and stream below the pond, I came across ice:


A nice ice block:

Finally, a faux ice floe:

A spillway below the pond provided me with some nice images:

I particularly like the pattern just upstream of the drop:

There were interesting dead wood and reflections in the pond:

The next one makes me think about a small petrified dinosaur:

I found some dried leaves that caught my attention:

It was so warm that even a small bee came out to some grasses that were in the sunlight:

 My Powershot SD 4000 camera has an interesting feature:  built-in means to create fish-eye lens effect.

I first tried it on the pond:

Then I tried it on a large picnic table--before:

and after:

The neat NEOS Overshoes, acquired through Arthus Morris' on-line store--great for getting around in marshes, muddy trails, and fording small streams--a great Christmas present from my wife! Note the velcro flap enclosures running the length of the overshoe!

  I visited the caretaker's cottage--and I saw that someone had a sense of humor:  I saw a half dozen pair of boot and sneakers thrown over tree limbs in the back yard--this is one of six!

Finally, here is what the sky looked like when I started into the park--a glorious day!