Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Aurora Painted The Sky Again!

It's been quite a time since I posted  northern-lights occurrences, though there had been lots of them this year except in the summer when the brightness of the night washed out these colorful lights. 

The summer nights started to get dark in late August, and that's when we started seeing the auroras again. But then, summer this year didn't really go well, what with all the showery days and overcast night sky, which went on until autumn. That means that we missed all those strong auroral activities these past months. The first one that I watched this season was that on September 28-29. After that, the sky was mostly overcast, and if ever it was clear, the aurora borealis was quiet.

And then, on November 7 (I call it 7/11), as the evening grew and deepened into night, the green lights gradually spread across the sky, their vivid colors unhampered by the intense light of the waning gibbous.










It was a long-term activity, with up to Kp 7 magnitude,  that extended to the 10th of this month. Each night, the show went on, though I missed the acme of the following nights' shows.

The first night was the best I've seen in this series. From its faint inception, the light kept intensifying and exuding strong colors of green, pink and purple, gracefully fluttering, dancing, gliding across the sky, and then fading, subsiding. After a few minutes, the light sparked again from where it faded and fluttered across to the opposite direction.
















Actually, at times, several lights flared simultaneously from different parts of the sky, each of them moving swiftly and racing against each other, making it quite hard to photograph with a lens that can cover only a fraction of the whole show. So I just pointed my camera here and there. While waiting to complete the full exposure, I would usually miss the best parts of the show, such as the bursting of the corona.

(click on the smaller images for enlarged viewing)

































The important thing in watching the aurora borealis, though, is the enjoyment of viewing the amazingly colorful movements of the northern lights all over the sky, the bliss that I feel as I stand under these showers of light and get a refreshing soul-bath.












"Even from a dark night, 
songs of beauty can be born."
 - Mary Anne Radmacher





Monday, November 6, 2017

Another Rewarding Birding Day

Tuesday p.m., 31 October

I know I've been waxing lyrical about birding since I embarked on this hobby, but if it sounds pleasant, why not? Besides, there are countless blogs out there that are focused exclusively and enthusiastically on birding, and I don't get tired reading them and viewing their bird photos. So I'm going to say my piece too.





These days when the weather is mostly dark, cloudy and rainy, we have to take advantage of any day when the sun is out and the sky is clear or partially cloudy, as long as there's enough light, to go birding.

Monday would be perfect as the sky was completely clear but I had to work during the bright hours, so I couldn't follow my hubby when he set about birding. When he reported his finds at home later in the evening, I wished I had joined him too. But I was happy that he found a lifer that day.

So the following day when I had my job done early, we both traveled to the same place in hopes of seeing the same bird. It was partially cloudy but sunny enough to see the birds clearly.

The first ones we spotted were the waxwings (sidensvans in Swedish) , hundreds of them perched on the tops of the bare aspen trees. They repeatedly swooped down on the nearby rowan trees and nibbled on the berries and flew back to the treetops.















I also noticed a couple of female pine grosbeaks (tallbit) festively mingling with the waxwings.













After observing and photographing them to our fill, we proceeded down the narrow pathway where hubby found the European goldfinches (steglits) the other day. Unfortunately, they were not around that time, or maybe hiding in the bushes.

We were not disappointed though, for something wonderful happened while we were there. A car was parked, and a man, obviously an ornithologist, was on a voluntary mission, tagging the common redpoll birds (gråsiska), counting them and releasing them afterward, and then he would submit the data to the Museum of Natural History.  All of a sudden, he offered me to hold one of those birds, showing me how to "finger" it. Oh, yes!, I was thrilled to hold this one small cute bird that had eluded me before this moment. I had seen some before from afar but couldn't capture them clearly, and now, I had one in my fingers! I was so grateful for this new experience!




When we were about to leave, he suggested a place where we could find a rare bird here in the north pole, the great egret, which thrives mostly in warmer places. Off we drove to the said place, which we have never visited before. The area appealed to us, was beautiful actually. We saw some swans and other ducks, but the egrets were not around.



















We moved on to another part, exploring the shoreline until we came to a section where a narrow strip of land jutted into the sea, called spit (?). Many swans and ducks floated offshore, but still, we couldn't find the egrets. Wrong timing, perhaps. We're going back there another day.










Anyhow, we saw hundreds upon hundreds of common redpolls and arctic redpolls flying together in a flock, crowding the trees, dangling from the twigs while feeding on their seeds acrobatically. The show was a delightful treat for us! We tried to take innumerable pictures of them in action, which was quite difficult due to their constant movement, distance and poor lighting.


















Darkness started to set in at around 3:00 p.m., which is the case during this season in this part of the world, so there was no way to take clear and sharp images. But we have had our fill of this visual birding feast!








The sun had sunk low, the birds had flown away, and so we had to leave too before the last glint of sunlight vanished. We marched back to our car parked at the wood's trailhead, our souls infused with an ample dose of metaphoric vitamins that strengthened our psyche.






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