March 1, 2021
The high cirrus clouds this morning were a
wonderful sky show--saw the first sundog in many years, later a half
circle round the sun... I remember seeing sundogs frequently in
Minnesota in the winter--thought they needed intense cold to form, but
it was a balmy 35 degrees today. In case it's a new term to you,
sun dogs are small arcs of bright light or rainbow that can appear a
horizontal angle on either side of the sun..
The sun was to the left, too bright to include in the photo...
With the warm weather, some migrating ducks are appearing at the hole in the ice made by the bridge:
From left to right: male common goldeneye, male bufflehead, and ringnecked duck.
was up before sunrise this morning, looking at the sky while bicycling
to the pottery. Only a few bright stars were still visible. As I
arrived near the pottery, I saw a short bright line of star like dots
glowing to the south east, like a segment of a string of pearls. I had my camera and took 6 quick
photos before they faded and disappeared. It was not moving as
far as I could determine. I was thinking it could be some space
debris burning up, off far enough that it didn't appear to move.
The photos barely showed a light streak, so that's all I got.
It reminded me of Halley's comet in its apparent size.
Here's a photo:
No it's not Cow Eating Grass --the old joke about a blank canvas. ..
Update. I found a similar picture to what I saw by accident on Reddit
It also had a link to predicted and recent space debris reentry, suggesting it was a second stage of a rocket reentry.
Unfortunately for my viewing there was none expected on March 4...
This was a male California quail the other day:
They're currently in flocks up to 60..
spring progresses, ice still happens every night but retreats a bit
more every day. This photo caught my eye because of the delicate
jigsaw puzzle pieces of ice, and how they mimic the sprig of lichen in
the lower left...
Scenes from the Badlands in South Dakota:
Big horn ram.
Mule (or black tailed)deer
This empty fountain at the Iowa State University Union, is where I
first played harmonica relatively publicly, with reverb provided by
the pool structure. Needless to say, I got hooked...
White pelican, Mississippi river in Iowa.
At the extreme of my camera range, I think I got a photo of a Eurasian
widgeon (reddish head) which was spotted by daugher in law Susa
along the Mississippi yesterday. It's a rarity in Iowa (14 times
total), first in the county...
Today my son and his family and I visited Princeton Wildlife Management
Area on the Iowa side of the Mississippi river. It's primetime
for spring migration...
It is a series of backwaters on the river, full from spring runoff.
There were trumpeter swans
Lesser scaup on left
mute swan (shot from a half mile away)
trumpeters in flight
Eurasian tree sparrow
Guess which birds are the pintails... (the rest are mostly coots)
I also got to see my first rusty blackbirds and American woodcock (at dusk)
Yesterday we drove through downtown Davenport, and stopped to locate a
peregrine falcon that resides on a twin tower building there. It
was spotted with binoculars, then Susa and I took photos with our
cameras. I know her camera takes better photos than mine--and not only
because it cost 3 times as much. But I was able to identify the
falcon with it and took a photo to show what it looked like two blocks
awayand 15 stories high. The blue V line shows the
approximate location of the antenna it was perched on.
The picture also reveals how I bracket my photos with a 1/2 stop
brighter and darker to find the preferred exposure. Darker photos
have a shorter exposure so tend to show moving figures less blurry,
which is why I chose the darker one for the inset photo...
Today we went to a wildlife refuge on the Illinois side of the river:
I snapped a photo of an eagles nest, and only later realized it had an
eagle at home. One can imagine how many years it took to grow the
nest that large...
There were hundreds of water birds, mostly out pretty far. This
view seems to me a fairly rare view of a civilized Mississippi river,
you can see about 10 miles upstream without seeing much human
disturbance. Of course this was just above Lock and Dam 13, so
the natural look is illusory. There was also 360 acres of sand
prairie nearby, which included the normally desert plants of prickly
pear cacti and yucca.
Here's a better photo of a Eurasian Tree Sparrow, common in eastern N. America but new to me...
We visited Credit Island today, a long island in the Mississippi west
of Davenport... It was not full of birds, but there was a nice
This cottontail lives in my son's backyard. I often see it, a
reddish squirrel, and a chipmonk out the window where I'm staying.
We walked the north end of Princeton Marsh yesterday, 50 degrees but
windy. The leaves aren't out on the trees, but the grass is
rapidly greening... Nice to be here before mosquito season, which
must be pretty thick on the many backwaters of the
Mississippi... The walk was along a levy, which had some
crushed yellow limestone on top, giving a bit of Yellow Brick Road feel
some of the backwaters are concealed by the brush on the left...
And here's a golden crowned kinglet from today:
one of the tinier birds, other than hummingbirds