Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Popping Up!

I've been quiet for almost a year. It's not that I have nothing to write or photos to share. I have quite a lot of these things which have not been let into my cyber home. Exciting and meaningful events transpired over the year, which are worth treasuring in my blog. The trouble is that I just felt that my blogging juice had drained out, though I still love to read the interesting blogs of those that I follow.


always enjoying the frequent aurora shows seen from our balcony


Writing, nature and photography are still my passion that keeps burning inside me. I have been out in the natural world recently more than ever. Hubby and I have been actively birding, photo-walking in the wild in search of interesting things in nature. I share my pictures with my personal friends in other sites where I write the stories behind the photos.


photo-walking in the freezing winter wonderland


Arctic redpoll



Why I could not get myself to write here as I used to remains vague to me. Maybe it has to do with my overwhelming stockpile of photos. As many of my readers know, I use a LOT of pictures in my blog. The problem comes when I choose the images to include. I have so much to to choose from, and it's exhausting just to go over all the pics and then pick what's best to represent my stories. Yes, I think that's the main block standing in my way. Another could be lack of time and fatigue after my jobs. I usually feel so exhausted at the end of the day that I can just manage to do the necessary things.


I still love being among the snow-laden trees


And then the itch to blog keeps annoying me, goading me to mull over the matter. It wouldn't go away, so I have to give myself a little push, though not so hard, having in mind my past resolve that I must do things in my stride.


still peering at the tiny ice crystals and taking macro shots


As you can see, I spurred myself to write this after a long time. I hope this is not the only time but there will be more coming up. And I hope that I can keep up my stride. Maybe one of these days I could verbally and visually stroll back in time through this blog.


early winter by the city river


And....I must restrain myself from using so many pictures!


the harbor where we frequent to watch the sunset, look for birds and broken ice bits


So this is all for now. Till next time.....


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Sunday, April 15, 2018

In Quest of a Scarce Bird

Words about a rare bird called white-backed woodpecker reached our ears. This is actually a hush-hush matter because of the governmental decree to protect it due to its declining population. I heard that only about 30 of them remain in the whole country. News about its existence in our city floated in secrecy, but we were fortunate to catch the words from a reliable source.




On March 8, we set out to a nature reserve where we hiked last summer and followed the snowy trail through the coniferous forest until we got to the local patch where some birds stop by to feed.






Total silence greeted us when we came to a halt and waited for our "quarry" bird.  Several minutes passed before I peripherally saw a silhouette of a bird flitting through the bare trees. And then we heard the familiar drumming of a woodpecker. It was a downy woodpecker.




A few minutes later, another winged creature flew by. And there it was, the white-backed woodpecker! I was so excited as I followed its flight from one tree to another until it stopped to feed.




As it kept appearing and disappearing, I kept waiting patiently and shooting frenziedly. It was so beautiful and luminous that I was utterly captivated!













When all the excitement abated, another bird showed up, a Eurasian jay, and perched still on a branch. I've seen one some months ago but I had difficulty capturing it as it was too afraid to sit still. This time, I had a good chance to take a lot of shots.








Satisfied at finding the white-backed woodpecker, we started back to our car while randomly shooting here and there.










As we exited the woods, my eyes were caught by an atmospheric optical phenomenon looming over us. It turned out to be a composite of 22° halo, parhelia or sundogs, upper tangent arc, supralateral arc and circumzenithal arc, each one heralding the presence of ice crystals in the atmosphere. This was an extra treat for us during that birding day!











Our quest was a success and my soul was fed, gratified and rejuvenated!


"Of the glorious splendor of your majesty they will speak
And on your wonderful works I will meditate."





Saturday, April 7, 2018

Pre-Spring Aurora Explosion

Throughout the winter, the northern lights were active most of the time, but on account of the snowy weather and overcast sky at night, we only had rare opportunities to see them, thus missing most of the powerful shows.

And then came March with its radiant sun and clear blue sky, which was a promise of upcoming aurora displays. Sure enough, our first chance came on the 14th. There was a lot of commotion in the "aurora-hunters" community in our city with palpable excitement in the air.




I usually watch and take pictures  from our balcony or just outside our apartment, but this time, hubby and I agreed to go some place where we could see the lights more clearly.




And so we took a drive to a lake in the countryside where some aurora fanatics previously took their shots.  We wheeled along a rural pathway with raised snow banks on both sides, and into the pitch darkness of the forests which emitted light only when the reflective sign boards or poles caught the car's headlights.




I wondered if we were the lone travelers as no other cars going that way. When we reached our destination, a few cars were parked here and there. Okay, we had company! Our fellow aurora hunters came earlier and found their own desired viewing spots. We pulled over the side of the frozen lake and trod the almost knee-deep untouched snow toward the open lake where we waited for any auroral activity.




And then the show commenced, faintly at first, which gradually burst and intensified. Oh, bliss! And, oh no, it was all over the sky and I could not fit the whole show in just one frame! I just kept on shooting frantically here and there, missing some spectacular shows going on while shooting another part.








One bonus that we get from watching the aurora in a place of total darkness is that we can see the whole sky richly studded with stars, their sparkles more intense. It's like they're competing with the aurora as to who performs the best show.  The starry sky actually enraptured me as much as the dancing lights!












And then we decided to find another spot that provided us a better viewing perspective. We parked near two cars on the roadside and followed the short trail to the forest that led to the lake. As expected, some "hunters" were busily shooting there. I took a few shots, which didn't meet my desired effects.










As the night advanced to midnight, we had to drive back home, even as the aurora kept on exploding on and off all over us. We had to stop at some points to get a few more shots.












The dancing lights seemed to go on endlessly as we rolled on, their brilliance spilled over the frozen road, making our drive colorful and the night exceptionally memorable.




What a tremendous gift from the "Father of the celestial lights"! (James 1:17)


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