It was a Friday night disco at the Kettler Iceplex...
Wildlife was not active today. Got the shot of the owl at Riverbend, but hard to get much more even after hitting Lake Fairfax. A couple pics from the day out.
The pond at Fair Lakes was mostly iced over. But there was this track across the pond. Not sure what made this but it is most interesting.
It continues to be really cold here, but this animal track is something to ponder.
A walk around the lake, which is about four miles long, on a fine day in January.. I wanted to get out for a walk, and our son Connor wanted to come along. And it was a fine outing.
The first thing we saw of interest, was a bald eagle circling around before heading off.
And then more cool bits.
Last night we saw our first bat, flying around a palm tree in a median strip. Watched it for a while and then headed to dinner. And here are the well-photographed bats...
Look, I never said the bats photographed were the same as the first bat sighted! Let's not jump to conclusions here. Also, there is something else interesting going on in this picture. If you don't see it, I will explain at the end of this entry.
So we went to dinner at one of these places where you walk around a bunch of aquariums and point out what you would like to eat for dinner. They have a wide selection including various fish, shrimp, crabs, geoduck, snails, etc. Then you sit down and they go and cook it and bring it out to the table where everyone shares so you get to try a lot of things.
Walking back to the hotel we saw these odd lights in the median strip trees. They didn't just stay one color, but the colors constantly changed. Seemed odd.
And as promised, the answer to the interesting bit in the first picture. If you look at the reflection in the windshield, you will see a halo around the sun. Here is a better photo of it.
This is generally called a 22-degree halo because the halo extends 22-degrees out from the sun. This can also happen with the moon or other situations as well. It forms when you have very small ice crystals high up, like maybe eight miles up, and they act on the light either like a mirror or prism. It's a very cool effect and can last for hours.
Monday and Tuesday the schools were closed due to snow, so did not get to go for a walk in a park. Today the schools had a two-hour delay, so just enough time to sneak in a 1.5 hour walk at Mill Creek Park. This is a riparian park that follows Accotink Creek, with a paved trail (under snow today).
This creek floods, and generally isn't awesome for pics as there is flood debris all over the place. But with the snow, it became pretty.
And as always, there were things to photograph.
Which is the start of what was good day birding, and another very average photo of a pileated woodpecker (a great shot still eludes me).
But then there were two woodpeckers, a pair!
But lots of smaller birds as well
And then... Don't get me started!!! The Hokey Pokey started and this red-shouldered hawk got into it...
Hope you enjoyed this walk with me along Accotink Creek. But just one more thing. I was observing my surrounding, looking for things, and caught the toss of a tail through a lot of brush. Thinking a deer, I moved into position to get a look, and...
Sticking with the caving theme, I am putting up a few shots of caves from central Pennsylvania. As I continue to scan my slides (a woefully slow process) there will be a lot more caving pictures here.
And since we are preparing for yet another snowstorm and cold temps here in Falls Church, VA,, I went with two shots with ice and one that was a winter trip and we were hiking in deep snow to get to the cave.
This is Gypsy standing outside the entrance to this quite small cave. From the outside it has this classic entrance shape of a cartoon cave entrance. And it is right beside the stream, so one might think it would go somewhere. But it does not. Just a pretty little cave with a lot of ice on a cold day.
I got permission to visit the cave a long time ago, and have no idea if visitation is allowed currently.
And a really cold cave is...
Bilgers Rocks is a sandstone outcrop with a few small caves. And, it has its own website at: http://www.bilgersrocks.com/index.htm
The third cave for today is McAlisterville Cave, located in Juniata County (Contact Nittany Grotto: http://www.caves.org/grotto/nittany/main.htm for access information).
And no, the cave didn't have some weird gravity. I put them in those odd poses to try and frame them in the flashs' light. This was back in the day before infrared flash slaves or radio triggers were being used to set off remote flashes. This photo was taken in total darkness in the cave, and I had the camera set for 1 second shutter speed. Upon hitting the shutter button I would shout and everyone (three people in this photo) would set off their flash manually.
And as always back in the day, you had no idea whether you got the shot or not. You had to wait until the slides got developed. Here I am fairly satisfied with the result, as this passage was deemed hard+ to photograph given its structure and I got something showing it, even if not perfect.
For a variety of reasons, I have not been able to get out and walk as much as I prefer. But today was just so nice out with temperatures in the low 50s and blue sky for most of the morning.
So off I went to Great Falls National Park. Their website is:
http://www.nps.gov/grfa/index.htm and I learned something. I have always inserted the word "National" into the name of parks, as I did in the title of this blog post. But this is just Great Falls Park. So how about others? I used that same website to quickly look up the pages for a few other famous parks. Yellowstone National Park. Death Valley National Park. Yosemite National Park. While I didn't search too heavily, only Great Falls seems to be missing the word "National." Go figure
So, the obvious thing to do is to have a look at the falls from the three observation decks. The water was up a bit with the snow melt, and infeeders near the left bank were muddying things up a bit while the water in the center channel was running pretty clear.
And speaking of infeeders...
So I started my walk, and it got a lot quieter away from the falls. But still there was this little babbling brook of snow melt gurgling away. But after that it was mostly just the crunching of snow underfoot. And a hint: It is far easier to see birds and wildlife if you don't have to watch where you are walking, so I wear 18 inch high waterproof muck boots and just walk though the snow and puddles without have to dance around.
And then I spotted a lovely...
And it was just totally quiet while I stood still to photograph the bird, so I decided to put on some music. The bird looked right at me and...
I couldn't believe it, but you have to know the song I was playing...
Okay, so I'm making all this up, but it is what I was thinking. And so songs kept running through my head as I encountered various things along the way like...
I'm not going to put all the videos in this post, but links if you are curious.
Bang Your Head
So next came a...
And right after I took this picture, I saw another large bird coming above the treetops, and got this shot of a raven also sailing by.
Okay, so I had been standing there long enough that the wildlife activity was picking back up, and right down the tree in front of me comes...
The Mississippi Squirrel Revival
So what more could happen on one short walk? Well I ended up hiking upstream after going downstream. Made sense to me, and upstream is where there are usually...
The Duck Song And if that isn't enough Duck Song, there are at least two sequels.
And I heard a bird on the ground, slowly turned and spotted this...
Walk Like an Egyptian And yes, this is the best video version.
And that was the last thing of interest I saw. I walked back to my car along the road just to do something different and didn't see much.
Hope you enjoyed my walk as much as I did.
No, no, no! This is not what you are thinking. These yellow icicles are created when tannins leach out of the wood into the water.
I am often at the Kettler Ice Center, where much ice skating happens. I did a lot of skating back in the day, but such is not my thing now, as my feet are no longer able to handle the tight skating shoes. But I watch my family skate, and sometimes the Washington Capitals are practicing on the second rink there.
A few photos of the Capitals' goalie Braden Holtby taking practice.
Keith Christenson - Wildlife Biologist