Monday, November 30, 2009

Gloucester Calendar

I was asked to create a calendar for a project. Since the work is done, why not make it “public” so others can get a copy? This 13 month, 2010 calendar runs from January 2010 to January 2011 and contains some of my favorite Gloucester photos of sunsets, lighthouses, boats and even a sunrise like this one. The 24 page calendar measures 11"x17" open and has the American holidays.

Buy this 13 month Gloucester calendar.

Support independent publishing: Buy this calendar on Lulu.

Support independent publishing: Buy this calendar on Lulu.

Great Black-backed Gull

This is a Great Black-backed Gull on the nets of the Plan B.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Eastern Point Sunset

I couldn't believe it. The clouds broke and we got some fresh light. Hey Gloucester, see that bright white object in the upper left hand corner? Remember that? It's the MOON! We haven't seen it in a long time.

©2009 ShootingMyUniverse

©2009 ShootingMyUniverse

Scenic Sunday

Saturday, November 28, 2009

What are these gulls???

When I went out shooting Plan B last week, three gulls caught my eye. The front gull I recognized, the gull to the left looked familiar but the gull to the right seemed odd. What are they?

©2009 ShootingMyUniverse

Now that I have a rainy day to put this post together, it is time to take a look at what we have here. So that all my research is not wasted and maybe I can encourage others to become brave and learn to identify gulls, I'll put my reputation on the line for the whole world to see.

When I was learning how to bird in my twenties, I had a birding buddy named Peter from Pasadena, CA. Two things I remember Peter saying, "Don't trust any air you can't see" (it's a Pasadena thing) and "I'm going to put off learning how to identify gulls in my dotage." Living and birding in California and Colorado, strange gulls were more of a pain in the ass and I wouldn't fool anything but breading adults.

Adult Herring Gull
©2009 ShootingMyUniverse

Adult Great Black-backed Gull
©2009 ShootingMyUniverse

Well, the years go by and as I approach my dotage, I find myself living on the ocean without the comfort of songbirds flocking to my feeders giving me reassurance that I am a master birder because I can distinguish a Pygmy Nuthatch from a Pine Siskin. No, nature doesn't take kindly to fools and now I find myself surrounded by thousands of gulls. This gives me the opportunity to grow in character.

Gulls are bothersome in the fact that there are two year and four year gulls, meaning that they mature in two years and four years receptively. Two of our four year gulls here on Cape Ann are the Herring Gull and the Great Black-backed gull. The Herring gulls are found throughout the northern hemisphere and the Great Black-backed gull is found on the East Coast and along the Northern Atlantic coast along and in Western Europe, in Iceland, Greenland, and Northern Africa. So I suspect that the intimidation of gull identification is a international problem.

So either I will help solve a common problem or create an international incident. Since I'm not afraid to create big effects, here I go.

First up is a recently fledged Herring gull. Note the brown plumage, the pink and black bill and pay attention to the face and patterns on the back. As the season progresses, the bill will turn all black as shown in the first picture above.

Fledged Herring Gull©2009 ShootingMyUniverse

This is one gull that wasn't found in any of my field guides. This is fledgling Great Black-backed gull that was shot in August. It has a lighter face pattern and an all black bill.

Fledgling Great Black-backed gull
©2009 ShootingMyUniverse

Next we have a second winter Great Black-backed gull. The face is much whiter and the back is more checkered than the Herring. The easy field mark is the white face. The back in this gull is turning black, but they can still be on the brown side.

Second Winter Great Black-backed Gull©2009 ShootingMyUniverse

Next is the second winter Herring Gull. We still have the brown finely checkered wings, but the bill is now pied pink and black. There is a hint of grey in the showing on the back.

Second winter Herring Gull
©2009 ShootingMyUniverse

As the Great Black-backed gull matures, he becomes grayer in his third year. Note that the bill is black and has a gray tip.

Third year Great Black-backed Gull©2009 ShootingMyUniverse

The third winter Herring Gull looks like this. The bill is turning yellow and still has a deal of black in it. The back becomes gray but he still has much of the brown secondary feathers. His head is streaked.

Third Winter Herring Gull
©2009 ShootingMyUniverse

As the Herring Gull matures, he develops the characteristic Herring Gull look. This is a non-breading adult.

Non-breading adult Herring Gull©2009 ShootingMyUniverse

And then you can get something in between. I suspect that this bird is coming into his adult plumage because I shot him in April. I throw this in not to put you in apathy, but to warn you, the field guides will not show you this stage and you must be prepared to do some thinking on your feet.

Herring Gull coming into adult plumage
©2009 ShootingMyUniverse

Finally, your field guides will talk about bill spots. (This is the same bird as the previous photo.)

Herring Gull
©2009 ShootingMyUniverse

Below are three mature Great Black-backed Gulls. Note that the bill patterns are all different. Your filed guides cannot possibly put in all the variations. Once again, just be prepared to think on your feet.

Great Black-backed Gulls
©2009 ShootingMyUniverse

Great Black-backed Gulls
©2009 ShootingMyUniverse

Great Black-backed Gulls
©2009 ShootingMyUniverse

With all that said, you are now armed with all the data you need to identify the three birds in the first photo. Easy-Peasy.

©2009 ShootingMyUniverseSo don’t be afraid to get out there and look at those gulls. Get to know the gulls in your area. And if something blows in from out of town like this Glaucous Gull. You will be able to quickly realize it isn’t one of the locals. You can shoot first and ask questions later.

And if you think one field guide is going to just hand you an answer, you are sadly mistaken. For this post, I used National Geographic’s Filed Guide to Birds of North America, The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Eastern North America, and Peter Harrison’s Seabirds, an Identification Guide. Oh, and then I pulled out a 25 year old copy of Peterson's East Coast.

Visit Camera Critters

P.S. I spent about five hours putting this post together, yes five freaking hours! After that I was going down through my blog roll and over on Kim's blog she pointed a blog dedicated to gulls which lead me to another one. Looking at them, I realized that they are a wonderful resource so I set up a new blog roll to the right, "Strictly for the Gulls".

Friday, November 27, 2009

Sun Setting on Tenpound Island

This short video shows the colors developing and dissapearing over Gloucester Harbor and is made of still frames shot over a 70 minute period, one frame every sixty seconds. Although this is a quiet time of year on the harbor, you will see lots of working boats coming and going.

©2009 ShootingMyUniverse

Forgotten Photo Friday, Tuna, It's what's for dinner.

I try to keep SMU posted with current photographs. Sometimes, good or interesting photos are no longer fresh and get put in a shoe box and forgotten. On Fridays, I open the archives to find little nuggets to post. In this case, these photos were taken on June 20th, 2009 at State Fish Pier. The first two photos are of yellow fin tuna.

We bring in a lot of big tuna in Gloucester and ship it around the world. The "tuna coffin", a large wooden box that holds, a single 1000+ pound tuna was invented down the street from me. The tuna is packed in ice and flown all over the world. Later, the wooden coffins were replaced by cardboard coffins. Now, the average tuna weighs in at about 600 pounds, ~300 kgr.

Where are these yellow fin tunas going to go? It’s hard to say. We ship fish all around the world. Perhaps if you went to a sushi bar last summer and ordered yellow fin tuna, you may have had a piece of one of these.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving, my last film picture

Happy Thanksgiving. I had visions of bringing the wild turkey shot to you today. But alas, I do not have one for you. We have lots of turkeys around work, during the week days you practically have to sweep them out of the way. However I don't pack a camera at work because, well, the temptation to be out in the woods shooting bugs and birds would be too great and we've become accustomed to having food on the table and a roof over our heads.

So what does this shot have to do with Thanksgiving? Well, it does have a thin connection. When I was a teenager (back when dirt was invented) we were friends with the family that owned the farm right next to Norman Rockwell's Arlington home. You cross this bridge and walk about three minutes and twenty five seconds and you are at his summer studio.

©2009 ShootingMyUniverse

This was one of the last film images I made...ever. The image below gives this posting a little credibility that it is truly a Thanksgiving day post, and it the closest image that I have of a turkey due to the fact that the turkeys do not hang around campus on the weekend when I can walk around with a camera and without getting fired.

I do not own this image. I swiped it. I'm sure that the website that I swiped it from did the same. Perhaps if I referred you to the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts I may be forgiven. I hope so.

In all sincerity, Becky and I visited the Norman Rockwell Museum several years ago. It is a wonderful institution and I highly recommend it any time of the year. I grew up with these images. As a kid, there seemed to be a familiarity about them. Mainly because Norman used his Arlington friends and neighbors as models, real Vermont woodchucks just like me.

Speaking of turkeys, this year our company distributed turkeys to all employees. I am truly thankful that the economy is on the mend and I hope that we can get all the people that lost jobs back to work.

I am also thankful for my followers who take five to thirty seconds to pop in to see something new.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Plan B

Today I'll continue with some shots of the working boats here in Gloucester. This is Plan B tied up at State Fish Pier in Gloucester.

©2009 ShootingMyUniverse

©2009 ShootingMyUniverse

©2009 ShootingMyUniverse

Visit Watery Wednesday

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Working Boats bringing Seafood to the World

These boats are all coming into Gloucester Harbor with the bounties of the sea. Gloucester has been fishing since 1623.

©2009 ShootingMyUniverse

©2009 ShootingMyUniverse

©2009 ShootingMyUniverse

©2009 ShootingMyUniverse

Monday, November 23, 2009

Sundog to the South and the Endeavor

We had wonderful weather last Saturday but in the afternoon we had sundogs which generally are a harbinger of bad weather coming. Yesterday morning was great, we went out for a beach walk and picked up some sea glass. Later in the morning the clouds started to roll in and today we have rain in the forecast.

©2009 ShootingMyUniverse

The Endeavor heads out as the Sea Force One heads in.
©2009 ShootingMyUniverse

Saturday, November 21, 2009


This is our Northern Mockingbird. There is a bittersweet bush with a lot of berries in our yard. The Mockingbird is cool when it comes to the herd of House Sparrows that hang about, but if the Starlings come in, there is hell to pay. The Starlings have learned to come in fast, grab a couple of berries and leave.

©2009 ShootingMyUniverse

Friday, November 20, 2009

Forgotten Photo Friday Don't you know you're floating with the king? II

This is a true Forgotten Photo Friday. It isn't that I forgot these photos, it is that I forgot to publish them. In May of 2008, I was taking a walk after work and I saw this raft of ducks. (Get it, raft of ducks?)

©2009 ShootingMyUniverse

Well a male King Eider in breeding plumage sticks out like a sore thumb. I was just thrilled, because it was a life bird and I actually had a camera. (Right, like I'd go anywhere without my gear.)

©2009 ShootingMyUniverse

When I posted Don't you know you're floating with the king?, I wanted to backlink to my King Eider photos. Well, wouldn't you know? I never posted them. Sorry for holding out.

©2009 ShootingMyUniverse

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Annisquam Light photo study

This time of year has the most wonderful sunsets. Here is a favorite subject of mine shot in a different light.

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