Although rare, full cloud inversions are something we know well here, covering the same phenomena over the last few years both here and here. This particular timelapse video by filmmaker Harun Mehmedinovic captures how beautifully the descending clouds imitate waves when trapped within the Grand Can
The annual Spring Chesapeake Float was scheduled for this weekend, with the largest gathering so far planning to meet on the Maryland Eastern Shore near the Honga River. But as the launch date approached, so did a very big and very unpleasant weather system, stretching from Florida to Canada. Days of cold rain and high winds forecasted, gusting to 30kts. We decided to postpone.
Some of the guys with more flexible schedules hope to get some time on the water today, switching to the Sassafras River at the north end of the Bay where conditions may moderate. We had a great trip there a few years ago. I hope they get good weather. The rain has passed (with flash flooding here), but as I write this the wind is still blowing about 20kts, gusting to 30.
I’m sitting this one out, and will try to use the time off for several trips coming up in the next few weeks. As consolation, I have some pictures and video from a trip back in November that I never got around to posting.
Since 2003, Australian photographer Murray Fredericks has made at least twenty journeys to the center of Lake Eyre, a desert lake with an extremely high concentration of salt. Fredericks drags all of his equipment out into the barren landscape, capturing the dramatic sky reflected in both the inch-d
There’s a male Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos) who sings outside our bedroom window every Spring. Despite the fact it makes them eminently easier targets for predators, like owls, they like to perch in the highest tree tops, and our house is at the top of the hill.
In Spring, on quiet nights when there’s a full moon, he sings all night long. So loud he wakes me from sleep, even with the windows closed. At 3 a.m., unable to go back to sleep, I gave up. Went outside with a microphone and a camera. The trees are budding out, and it’s a warm night with a soft breeze.
By odd coincidence I was just reading about mockingbirds, in a book by a local author. Our daughters played soccer together. She often writes for National Geographic and Smithsonian, and sometimes we shared conversations on the sidelines during practice about the topics she was researching. The book is called The Genius of Birds, by Jennifer Ackerman.
It’s full of fascinating info. I just finished a section on Mockingbirds. Apparently, Thomas Jefferson (whose house I pass several times a day) kept one as a pet in the White House when he was President. His name was Dick. Dick not only mimicked the calls of many birds from the nearby woods, but also did a fair rendition of some popular American, Scottish, and French melodies, things you’d hear in a local tavern. Jefferson was so fond of the bird it was allowed to follow him throughout the house during the day.
Mockingbirds will acquire hundreds of phrases in a complex library of sounds they can imitate with great precision, switching between them at the rate of 17 or 18 a minute with such accuracy that in sonograms they are almost indiscernible from the originals. And not just the sounds of other birds – car alarms, cats, people, sirens, whatever strikes their fancy. All using a brain about the size of a pea.
No wonder I can’t sleep.
This one is on a roll again, just like previous years. Though I’m only outside listening for a few minutes, I pick out a couple of hawks, Osprey, Cardinals, Robins, Sparrows, etc..
They sing to impress the ladies, of course, and will risk their lives to do so; but they don’t just sing during mating season. The rest of the year they sing just because it makes them feel good. Brain scans show singing gives them pleasure and comfort, so they often do it whether anyone else is listening or not. Just for themselves.
In another one of those fun convergences that makes me smile, several people I know, and who know each other, all did different versions of the same thing at the same time, thousands of miles apart, without talking about it first.
Steve took a trip for work on a plane out of Wallops Island, flying over remote parts of the Eastern and Western Shores of the Chesapeake.
One of Steve’s photos, over Wachapreague,
One of my favorite places.
Meanwhile, Emily was also flying in an even smaller plane, also for work, on a volunteer gig to the remote Alaska backcountry. To a little native village called New Stuyahok (pop. 510).
They had stronger than expected headwinds on the way out. The pilot was afraid they wouldn’t have enough fuel to get back. He radioed around to people he knew and found a runway out in the middle of nowhere to put down and gas up.
Check out the video. There’s nothing around for hundreds of miles. When the plane lands – on a strip built with significant effort above the permafrost – there’s still nothing there.
Video from Emily in the copilot’s seat.
At the same time, other daughter Amanda was taking a flight of fancy a few thousand miles due south in California. She’s teaching third grade with a class of delightful mostly Spanish speaking kids in “The Garlic Capital Of The World” – otherwise known as Gilroy.
She was reading a favorite book to the kids, one I had read to her and Emily when they were young called Stella Luna, about a young bat who flies around in the moonlight. Amanda really gets into character when she reads, and has the rapt attention of all 30 some odd 9 year olds, which is no small feat. She dressed for the part, finding (somewhere) a flying squirrel costume that passed for a young bat.