A Black-capped Chickadee calls as the sun rises.
Sunday came with rain in the morning and then it turned to snow. As the storm evolved, huge snow flakes came tumbling down. Here in the Atlantic North East (A.K.A New England) we call this “sugar snow” because we generally get it during [maple] sugar season.
The interesting thing about sugar snow is that when it comes, it means that the snow storm is about over, usually it would end in 30 to 60 minutes.
But that is the way it worked when I was a kid in Vermont. I learned fast that in Boulder-Denver, it was not that good feeling that the storm was about to end. These large flakes meant that the storm was bout to ramp up and it was going to be a doozy laying wet snow on warm pavement creating black ice followed by a foot or two of power.
Sunday’s storm was somewhere in between. The storm lasted for hours. Maybe it is because I am no longer in Vermont and living on the coast that the sugar snow did not bring the end of the storm. Below is a reshoot of the photo above taken this morning.
If you look in the dictionary for sugar snow, you will get a totally different term. For those that study hydrology, what wet and wild branch of geology, sugar snow is another name for depth hour, which is a technical term for a ice granules that form near the snow/earth boundary.
Driving through New England this time of year, you will see on harbinger of spring. Sap buckets on the sides of maple trees. Yes, spring is on its way.
In the coastal areas of south-east New England, we don’t see this very often. It is a more common sight in Maine, New Hampshire and especially Vermont.
Growing up in Vermont, we always talked about the sap running and the quality of the sugaring season. There are a lot of processes that take place to produce sap.
To get the sap to run, it takes cold nights and warm days. This drives the sap down into the roots at night and up to the branches during the day. As the season progresses, the sugars begin to turn to starch and the quality of the sap declines. Eventually, the sap stops running and the season is over. It takes 40 gallons of sap to make a gallon of maples syrup.
Here on the coast, the season is rather short as that contrast of cold nights and warm days is not reliable. Be sure to visit my maples syrup posts from years go by.
Happy Friday. Today’s image comes from Boston Harbor. Sorry I couldn’t find any data about this tanker.
I took the photos as we were leaving Boston Harbor to sail up the Maritime Coast to Canada.
Last Wednesday night, I was driving home from work and I saw an owl fly across a nearby field and land in a tree. At first I thought it was a Barn Owl. But as I got closer, it turned out to be a Barred Owl! So I rushed home to get my gear with the hope of getting at least one good shot. After all, the sun was sinking fast!
When I got to my driveway, Mike the postman was coming by. Okay, I need to be neighborly, but my attention was definitely split. Mike and I chatted about the Nor’easter and the feeling that spring is right around the corner. I like Mike. He’s a good Carrier. He takes good care of his route.
I got home, grabbed my gear and headed back, trying not to break the sound barrier. I got to the scene and there it was! I put my camera to my face, he looked up at me and my heart sank. 1/5th of a second. It might as well have been a hour exposure. I set the ISO up to 400 and got the shutter speed down to 1/20th of a second. So pardon these photos. I did what I could with the conditions I had.
My first shots when he was looking directly at me didn’t work and hit the cutting room floor.
So let me tell you what’s happening here. The owl is looking down. I wasn’t able to get a keeper with it looking up at me. As the time progressed, it still wouldn’t look up. But then I saw that it was moving its face in a circular motion. It’s onto something!
Then it pounced into the snow.
It spent a little time scootching around and I could see it trying to go deeper into the snow.
Then it seemed that it got a little excited.
This was the last shot that I took. Off it flew deep into the brush. I could see that it caught a mouse or a mole. It flew away with it in his talons. Good job!
This, by the way, is a life bird for me!
For other feather friends, visit Wild Bird Wednesday.
I’m quite surprised that the Downy Woodpeckers are drumming already. It’s not that they shouldn’t be, but it has been so long since I’ve lived in suitable habitat. Since we are on the salt marsh and have a wooded lot, the trees on the lot do not live very long and there are lots and lots of snags.
This is a hole that is right off of our deck. I’m just hoping that someone takes advantage of it. Besides the Downies, I’ve seen Red-bellied woodpeckers take interest in this hole too. I think that there may be some real estate wars come springtime.
This male was foraging and drumming.
Another female. I think that there were about six Downies on the property that morning.
We have no shortage of snags to keep them busy.
Deep in the archives I found these two Least Terns. Pretty soon I can go out and make some fresh images. Until then, this forgotten photo will have to hold us over.
This is a Cormorant found on the west coast of North America. These Brant’s Cormorants were taken in Monterey, California.
If you have a chance, visit Wild Bird Wednesday.
Believe it or not, this is the first passerine/song bird that I’ve photographed in the new back yard. I shot him Saturday morning, hunkered down on this line in the trees.
I’m looking forward to better weather and an opportunity to work with my “new neighbors”.
Great Horned Owl
American Black Duck
Dark-eyed Junco (Slate)
Great Blue Heron
P.S. 13 Feb 12
Yes, we had a bit of weather come in. A real, honest-to-goodness blizzard. During the storm my family was emailing about their conditions. I kept saying, “We only got a quarter of an inch so far…” The reason is that it was all horizontal. Our winds were blowing up to 50mph sustained with gusts to 80. I still don’t know how much snow we received.
So Saturday morning, I wanted to take some pictures in the front yard before high tide disrupted the scene. Then I got a great idea on sharing a tip. So here’s the tip. When shooting snow scenes, override you exposure by +1.6 to +2.0 EV. Here are two photos that I shot in JPG and gave the same mild post processing.
The top photo was shot taken by letting the camera interpret the photo. The light meter in the camera is designed to make the photo 16% gray. It makes the photo look, well, 16% gray. But closer to reality is the second shot which I increase the exposure by 1-1/3 EV. There is already some black tones in the metering area, so I didn’t need to over do it. The result is more of a “what I saw is what I got” look.
I want to share with you an excerpt from a email sent out to family:
“We faired well also. The weather report said 40mph winds, but I tend to think that was on the low side. Our windows were bowing in. This was the first storm we had since we started living here. The wind came in unobstructed off of the ocean, across Plum Island and right across the salt marsh. Our house was the first line of defense for the trees behind the house! You can see pictures of “the front yard” in the following link:
“We are still getting light snow at 12:45 but the clouds are thin, we can see the sun from time to time.
“Okay, now remind me why we live in New England? It is often said by us New Englanders that we love the changing of the seasons. And those of us that move to more benign climates often miss the changing of the seasons. It occurs to me that the reason we are conditioned to look forward to changing of the seasons is because the weather is never quite right and we tire of it, thinking that the next season will bring relief from the “tool cold”, “too muddy”, “too hot”, “too sticky”, “too drab”, “too cold”, “too muddy”…
“Nah, I’ve been through worse. That April 2003 storm in Colorado where we got 48 inches of wet snow was a real pissah. Now that was a storm!”
The the top pictures are looking north. This picture is looking east and is looking out from the front of the house. This is where the wind started from.
So the wind comes off the Atlantic, from the East, comes over the salt marsh and the first thing it hits is the front of the house and those wonderful picture windows!
The the wind whipped up and started coming out of the north. This is why we call ‘em Nor’easters! Our landlord warned us that the house would be shaking, “but don’t worry”. I’m totally fine with that. Hell, I lived in L.A. for three years. I know about rocking houses. [Earthquakes] What he didn’t warn us about was the windows bowing in! Whoo-hoo!