12/21/2012 – Apocalypse not Now

We’ve been getting strange weather, along with our abnormally warm fall.  One foggy night I tried to capture the mood.

Perfect evening for filming a horror movie.
Insects, the live ones anyway, are all gone.  My lenses have turned more toward birds lately.
Black-capped Chickadee From November 2012
Dead insects can provide interesting subjects too.  After grading my students’ insect collections, I found that they had some very interesting subjects.  I’ve been meaning to try this technique for awhile: image stacking.  
This one is better than my first efforts, but far from perfected.  It results from stacking 9 separate images, each with a different focal plane.  It would be otherwise impossible to produce an image with so much depth of field at such high magnification.  The software magically puts together all the bits that are in focus.
I’ve stopped at Quinsippi Island on several mornings.  This Red-shouldered Hawk seems to hang out there a lot. 
I did the Christmas Audubon Bird Count again.  We had a different territory this time, which included some prime habitat.  The birds were really not cooperating, perhaps because it was so warm.  Nonetheless, we saw a diversity of species, including Eurasian Tree Sparrows, a Carolina Wren, and some Turkey Vultures.  The big surprise was the bald eagle out in a field, far from the river.  There were quite a few American Kestrels, but only one was cooperative.
Savannah and I are both glad the fall semester is over.  I turned in all my grades after finishing grading papers and exams.  I even cleaned up my office a little.  Stacey’s been busy with the Toys-for-Tots program and Lewis County Adopt-a-Family at the same time.  One night my entire truck was full of toys!  I felt like Santa Clause, but I always jokingly tell people I’m the Grinch.
We endured a horrendous blizzard yesterday.  Incredibly, we had no rescue calls in our district.  We hunkered down at home.  Savannah got someone to cover for her at work so she didn’t have to drive to Quincy.  Stacey and I had intended to start our journey south tonight, but we decided to wait until tomorrow morning.  We should be able to make it far enough to get into some warmer weather.  Texas, here we come!
As usual, click through to see a few more images in the online gallery.