Next Generation Prep

Ospreys are “snow birds,” they do not stick around for the cold weather.

IUCN designation: LC The Osprey is a global bird whose populations are increasing.

I recently visited one of our many preserves and ran into these two birds. They were in the process of lining their nest for the upcoming parenting season. Ospreys are “snow birds,” they do not stick around for the cold weather. They generally return to the same nest each year. I’ll return to photograph over the coming weeks once the eggs have hatched. In the meantime, you can find a four-shot sequence here.

Earth Day 2022

April 22, 2022 update: Hello, is anybody listening? A just released IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) report says we are going in the wrong direction on climate change, but there is still a narrow window left to avoid a complete catastrophe to our biosphere, and that includes us.

According to an ongoing temperature analysis led by scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), “the average global temperature on Earth has increased by at least 1.1° Celsius (1.9° Fahrenheit) since 1880. The majority of the warming has occurred since 1975, at a rate of roughly 0.15 to 0.20°C per decade. . . . . The data reflect how much warmer or cooler each region was compared to a base period of 1951-1980. (The global mean surface air temperature for that period was 14°C (57°F), with an uncertainty of several tenths of a degree.)”

There was time when we believed that we were the center of the universe and that we should have dominion over the Earth. But then Copernicus came along who asserted that the Sun is indeed the center of our solar system, the Moon being the only body that revolved around the Earth. I’m sure you know that this resulted in a bit of an uproar. As for the dominion idea, our use of resources, over-hunting, and factory farming of animals have contributed to climate change and the current sixth extinction. Watch Marvin Gaye’s video, Mercy, Mercy Me (The Ecology), released in 1971.

The following two photos show a contrast between Greenland’s Tunu Glacier in 1933 and 2013. This melt-back is characteristic of ice all around the world, though melt-back varies widely, depending on location.

Source: The Greenland Ice Sheet – 80 years of climate change seen from the air. / Bjørk, Anders Anker; Kjær, Kurt H.; Larsen, Nicolaj Krog; Kjeldsen, Kristian Kjellerup; Khan, Shfaqat Abbas; Funder, Svend Visby; Korsgaard, Niels Jákup. 2014. Abstract from 44th International Arctic Workshop, Boulder, Colorado, United States.

It wasn’t so long ago that Carl Sagan and climate scientists started sounding the alarm that we were going down a dangerous path. Subsequent climate data has revealed that those early projections vastly underestimated what was happening, since we now know that climate change is not a linear but an exponential process. That is, it happens faster and faster over time.

Via Voyager 1

The now famous photograph of Earth as a pale blue dot was taken on February 14, 1990 by the deep space probe, Voyager 1, from a record distance of about 6 billion kilometers (3.7 billion miles). The more recent

Via Cassini

photograph was taken by the deep space probe, Cassini. Though more striking with Saturn in the foreground, it also shows how Earth is but a spec in the cosmos. As Sagan said in his book: Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. (Carl Sagan, The Pale Blue Dot, 1994)

People often say we have to save the Earth. Not so! The Earth will go on just fine without us. The issue is preserving the current biosphere that supports us and the other higher vertebrates. There will always be life on the planet so long as there’s liquid water. As I present every year, here is my fictionalized account of our worst scenario. Let’s do better!

Waves Crashed Reid State Park

I shot 400 frames this day at 1/30 seconds or slower so as to get a bit of a blur in the waves to convey a sense of motion.

The sea has mitigated climate change thus far by absorbing most of the heat from the greenhouse effect. However, it has come at a great cost; as the sea warms it becomes more acidic thus changing the balance of life. The coral reefs, upon which so many aquatic species depend, are dying. Here in Maine the lobsters are moving towards Atlantic Canada and the sharks are moving in. Reid State Park Beach now has shark alert flags that are raised during a spotting, along with a warning horn.

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As you can see, it was quite the day. The surfing site, Magic Seaweed, reported wave heights at 9-13 feet. It was raining heavily on the drive up, but according to the radar it was supposed to let up about the time I arrived. By the time I got there it was only misting. Only?! The mist was like a fog. Although I brought a hooded rain jacket and all my clothing was synthetic, quick-dry including a waterproof camera cover (my camera and lens are supposedly weather-sealed), I was concerned that the driving wind would force salty air into my equipment. Fortunately, all my equipment only needed an exterior cleaning after I returned home.

So, here I was walking around on wet, mossy rocks carrying my camera on its tripod looking for places to shoot, protected from the wind. When on wet rocks it is best to plant your foot and see if it grips before taking the next step. It takes more time but saves broken bones or worse.

I shot 400 frames this day at 1/30 seconds or slower so as to get a bit of a blur in the waves to convey a sense of motion. I shot all my previous wave scenes at high-speed to freeze the action, giving the waves a sharp look. Both techniques provide impressive results, it just depends on what the photographer wants to convey.

After several hours of post-processing and culling photos, I reduced those worth showing to 12.

There were only three other vehicles that showed up at different times during my four hour stay. The only exception was a woman driving a four-door pick-up truck who came about two hours after me. Her truck was still there when I left. I captured a shot of her from afar standing on the rock ledge looking out at the surf.

You will find my wave photos of the day (the first twelve) at my on-line gallery.

Coming Soon: Earth Day 2022

Watch for this when it goes live at 7:00 AM (EDT) on April 22. In addition to my commentary and rewind of my short fiction, Xertox, the post will feature contributions from Marvin Gaye, Carl Sagan, the IPCC, and, of course, NASA and NOAA. You won’t want to miss it!

Ice: Did You Know?

Unfortunately, ice is on the “endangered list” as it’s annual appearance shortens and glaciers around the world melt.

When water freezes it becomes less dense and expands. That’s why if your house pipes freeze they burst, causing you a big headache and money. The freezing process causes the individual molecules to crystalize into a tetrahedral shape. What’s that? Start the video, below, to see an animation of what happens.

After a warm start to winter we’ve been experiencing a cold snap in Maine. This morning’s temperature was -5o F here on the southern coast, but to the west and north it went down to ~ -20o F. I took advantage of the cold recently on two photo outings to capture some ice views. Both locations were at rivers marked by the occasional creaking and cracking of ice, due to expansion, and water or tidal flow. Ice can make for some great abstracts and scenes. Unfortunately, ice is on the “endangered list” as it’s annual appearance shortens and glaciers around the world melt.

To see more of my images click on color and black & white.

The James Webb

The telescope is now orbiting around L2 . . . .

The telescope is now orbiting L2 in Earth’s shadow and will begin sending photos of the universe in June, a mere 100 million years after the Big Bang. It will also start examining those exoplanets with atmospheres to better determine their atmospheres’ compositions and likelihood of supporting life.

James Webb will Orbit at L2

What is L2?

An erarlier version of this post mistakenly referred to L1.

What is L2?

L2 is a Lagrange point and destination of the James Webb; there the gravitational pull of the Earth and Sun on an object balance the centrifugal effect on an object. Thus, objects can orbit this point without a planet or other large body to anchor their orbit.

Want to learn more about Lagrange points? Go here.

James Webb Telescope Heat Shield successfully Deployed

Originally published: January 4, 2022

January 8, 2022, 17:37 GMT (-5 EST) Update: The unfolding of the primary mirror should be completed, soon. The down-link telemetry from the telescope within the hour will transfer from Canberra, Australia to Madrid, Spain as the Earth rotates the latter into view of the telescope. Full telescope telemetry reception will resume by 18:30 GMT. You can follow this on NASA TV).

You can find all the details at

Bradbury Mountain State Park

By this time of year Mainers should typically be wearing snowshoes, instead, as has been the case in recent years, Mainers are wearing micro-cleats because there is little snow and lots of ice.

Listen to the audio.

Aside from photographing the environment, I’m now starting to hike more rugged trails to maintain my endurance and to prepare for more technical hikes with the Maine Outdoor Adventure Club (MOAC). I alternate cycling with hiking as the seasons change. Hiking also requires me to use my muscles differently, thus minimizing repetitive motion injuries, and aids bone density while cycling does not.

This New Year’s Eve day I went to this park. By this time of year Mainers should typically be wearing snowshoes, instead, as has been the case in recent years, Mainers are wearing micro-cleats more often because there is less snow and more ice on the trails. Ironically, this is because it’s warmer. Although this happens at lower temperatures, it happens more when the snow is wetter because it packs easier, then melts a bit during the day, and refreezes at night. After a few cycles solid ice forms, typically on the steepest portions of the trails where water flows, creating a “nice” glaze. And to think that I bought new snowshoes last season (I only wore them once).

Today’s temperature and dew point met at 32o F for a New Year’s celebration, leaving us in fog, shown in the following photo. You can find additional photos of the trails at my on-line gallery.

Bradbury Mountain State Park summit

I’ll be returning in the near future to do the more difficult O trail at Bradbury Mountain.

Until next time, I wish everyone a happy New Year and more frequent, safe social interactions in 2022!

Skolfield Shores Preserve

Nature’s natural experience

Urban preserves are not only important for providing a wonderful back to nature opportunity, they are also important for maintaining the natural environment. Many local preserves are located adjacent to neighborhoods.

This one is about a forty minute drive north of Portland on the Harpswell peninsular. A short hike through the woods brings you to a wetland where it was low tide upon my arrival. Low tide reveals more of the shore and, in my opinion, provides a more interesting visual experience.

I took these images with my medium-format camera using Ilford’s Pan-F 50 film.

What interesting experiences have you had in your local preserves?

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