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Friday, April 22, 2016

From the Archives


Now that I've posted all my bird photographs on my in-progress photo gallery site, I'm now scrolling through every digital photograph I've taken, sorting them into collections in Lightroom.  I came across this ultra-closeup of one of the spreadwing damselflies I came across in Maine.  What amazing creatures!

-Tom

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Birding at the Racetrack



Megan and I use an incentive system for the boys. When they do chores, behave well, etc., they get a marble placed in a mason jar.  When the jar is full, they get a reward. Weston has been wanting to go try the go-karts for a long time, and finally we had a perfect day for it.  He had a blast.

The track is situated right next to the I-71 corridor, a habitat that is often frequented by red-tailed hawks.  What luck that a beautiful bird soared right above our heads while waiting in line.  I just happened to have my telephoto lens and camera all set up for action shots.  The red-tailed hawk had eluded me for quite some time.  I just didn't have any great photos of this common bird taken in Ohio. Not anymore!




-Tom

Friday, April 08, 2016

Favorite Photos from Spring Break in Southwest Florida

Two weeks ago, we were wrapping up our spring break trip to Bonita Springs.  With trips to Corkscrew Swamp and Barefoot Beach, usually followed by afternoon trips to the pool, the boys were exhausted.  Here are a few of my favorite photographs from the trip.











Florida.  I can only imagine how awesome it used to be!

-Tom

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Building My Nature Photography Archive

My new landing page at tomarbour.smugmug.com features every bird photography, nearly 500 images.

At the beginning of the year, I came to this realization that the body of my work was sitting on my hard drive, very difficult to access.  Yes, this blog is a record of my natural history activities since the mid-2000's, but it's sequential- not well organized by taxa, or natural history subject, for example.

And after nature blogging began its big decline starting around 2010, most of us turned to Facebook to share our natural history images.  While some photographers curate their own wonderfully organized galleries, most imagery on Facebook is ephemeral.  Social media good way to give a dose of "nature porn" to our friends, but it's quite horrible to serve us, each of us as nature photographers, as a place to catalog and archive our body of work. Which, in order to become better photographers, more complete photographers, we need this.  At least, I came to the revelation a few months ago that I need it.

I need a place that is my own.  That I can display my work.  A place to help me better focus my field efforts, so that I'm bringing home photos of things that I haven't photographed particularly well before.  A place that I can catalog the wide range of nature subjects I choose to photograph.  A place where photos won't get buried over the years. A place where the photograph itself takes precedence. A place that I own, that I can design, and call my own.

While I never would have guessed just how much time it would take to complete such a site, I also underestimated the end value that this effort would have.  Take my bird photography gallery, which is now complete.  Who knew that I have never photographed a hairy woodpecker?  Or have any decent imagery of other common birds, including the northern flicker, indigo bunting, and red-tailed hawk?

I have a long way to go, but I know that my photography will improve for it.  I encourage you to visit tomarbour.smugmug.com and take a look.

-Tom

Sunday, March 06, 2016

We Made it Through the Birthdays

We've made it through a busy stretch of the year we like to call "the birthdays". It all begins February 16, where I add one more year to my age, along with my mom. Then on the 25th comes Brody, who turned five this year. Isn't that crazy? And this year, being a leap year, we had one extra day between the boys birthdays, as Weston turned seven on March 2. Needless to say Megan did a great job managing all the planning that comes along with this many birthdays in that short of time.

Our Worthington Kroger Mall has a pastry chef.  Everything was edible.  Fondant and all.  


We had the boys friends' party at the Central Ohio Fire Museum.  It was awesome. 




And we finished it all up with Weston's birthday this past week.  Another cake from our Worthington Kroger, once again covered in fondant.  The boys finished up the last pieces this evening.


And that wraps up our two plus weeks of birthdays.  We're a little older, a little wiser, and a whole lot sillier, judging by this evening's dinner conversation.  

-Tom

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge

After our two hours of paid parking at Sanibel Island's Lighthouse parking was up (parking there is $4 an hour), we headed to the J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge's Wildlife Drive. The birding got better as the tide dropped throughout the day.

White Ibis is perhaps the easiest bird to photograph in Florida.  They're plentiful, fairly tame, and can be found near almost any body of water.  I only photograph them now when they're doing intertesting things, like holding a strange fish....

Or fighting... I assume these are two males.  I've never had the pleasure to photograph this behavior before.  These two engaged in mid-air combat for about a minute, with the bird on the left eventually chasing the other individual off.

Piping plover?  Semi-palmated plover?  

Pied-billed Grebes are frequent in most still water bodies in southwest Florida.

This was just one slice of a massive bird panorama.  I estimate there were over 1000 white ibis, herons, egrets, and roseate spoonbills.  Truly a magnificent sight.

Willets are another bird that I have photographed quite a bit, so I turn my camera to them in situations where they're showing interesting behaviors, like eating a small horseshoe crab.

Short-billed Dowitcher?  I'm going solely on Sibley's advice that they occur mostly on tidal flats, as opposed to the Long-billed Dowitcher preference for freshwater ponds. 

Surprise!  This large, awake American Alligator was being guarded by a refuge volunteer.  He didn't want anyone going too close.


Sunday, February 14, 2016

Red Knot TU3




Meet Red Knot TU3, which I photographed on the shores of Sanibel Island. Flagged with a readily identifiable marker, I submitted this observation to the Shorebird Banding Project website. 

And look what I found.  This bird is nine years old, and has been spotted many times since being captured, banded, and flagged over nine years ago.  What an amazing life, just hanging out at the beach (in between long distance migrations- the ultimate snow bird). The links below work, so be sure to click and see all the various photographs of TU3 over the years.

-Tom

Captures:
1/1/2007 11:45:00 AM - Sanibel Island - Bowman's Beach to Blind Pass, Florida, United States - 1172-98221 FELGTU3 REKN
Resightings:
1/7/2007 - Sanibel Island- J.N Ding Darling NWR Wildlife Drive, Florida, United States - 1172-98221 FELGTU3 REKN
3/12/2007 - Sanibel Island- J.N Ding Darling NWR Wildlife Drive, Florida, United States - 1172-98221 FELGTU3 REKN
3/29/2007 - Sanibel Island- J.N Ding Darling NWR Wildlife Drive, Florida, United States - 1172-98221 FELGTU3 REKN
12/18/2007 - Sanibel Island- J.N Ding Darling NWR Wildlife Drive, Florida, United States - 1172-98221 FELGTU3 REKN
12/20/2007 - North Captiva Island, Florida, United States - 1172-98221 FELGTU3 REKN
3/8/2008 - Sanibel Island- lighthouse vicinity, Florida, United States - 1172-98221 FELGTU3 REKN
3/15/2008 - Sanibel Island- J.N Ding Darling NWR Wildlife Drive, Florida, United States - 1172-98221 FELGTU3 REKN
3/16/2008 - Sanibel Island- J.N Ding Darling NWR Wildlife Drive, Florida, United States - 1172-98221 FELGTU3 REKN
11/24/2009 - Bunche Beach, Florida, United States - 1172-98221 FELGTU3 REKN
11/29/2009 - Sanibel Island- J.N Ding Darling NWR Wildlife Drive, Florida, United States - 1172-98221 FELGTU3 REKN
11/30/2009 - Sanibel Island- J.N Ding Darling NWR Wildlife Drive, Florida, United States - 1172-98221 FELGTU3 REKN
2/1/2010 - Sanibel Island - Sandpiper Beach vicinity, Florida, United States - 1172-98221 FELGTU3 REKN
2/2/2010 - Sanibel Island - Sandpiper Beach vicinity, Florida, United States - 1172-98221 FELGTU3 REKN
2/2/2010 - Sanibel Island - Sandpiper Beach vicinity, Florida, United States - 1172-98221 FELGTU3 REKN
2/9/2010 - Sanibel Island- J.N Ding Darling NWR Wildlife Drive, Florida, United States - 1172-98221 FELGTU3 REKN
2/24/2010 - Sanibel Island- J.N Ding Darling NWR Wildlife Drive, Florida, United States - 1172-98221 FELGTU3 REKN
2/25/2010 - Sanibel Island- J.N Ding Darling NWR Wildlife Drive, Florida, United States - 1172-98221 FELGTU3 REKN
3/8/2010 - Sanibel Island- J.N Ding Darling NWR Wildlife Drive, Florida, United States - 1172-98221 FELGTU3 REKN
3/9/2010 - Sanibel Island- J.N Ding Darling NWR Wildlife Drive, Florida, United States - 1172-98221 FELGTU3 REKN
3/15/2010 - Sanibel Island- lighthouse vicinity, Florida, United States - 1172-98221 FELGTU3 REKN
3/15/2010 - Sanibel Island - Sandpiper Beach vicinity, Florida, United States - 1172-98221 FELGTU3 REKN
3/20/2010 - Sanibel Island- J.N Ding Darling NWR Wildlife Drive, Florida, United States - 1172-98221 FELGTU3 REKN
10/15/2010 - Belleair Beach, Florida, United States - 1172-98221 FELGTU3 REKN
12/11/2010 - Sanibel Island - Bowman's Beach to Blind Pass, Florida, United States - 1172-98221 FELGTU3 REKN
3/11/2011 - Sanibel Island- J.N Ding Darling NWR Wildlife Drive, Florida, United States - 1172-98221 FELGTU3 REKN
11/22/2011 - Sanibel Island - Bowman's Beach to Blind Pass, Florida, United States - 1172-98221 FELGTU3 REKN
2/2/2012 - Knight Island, Florida, United States - 1172-98221 FELGTU3 REKN  Click here to see a picture
5/15/2013 - Ossabaw Island, Georgia, United States - 1172-98221 FELGTU3 REKN
5/17/2013 - Ossabaw Island, Georgia, United States - 1172-98221 FELGTU3 REKN
5/20/2013 - Ossabaw Island, Georgia, United States - 1172-98221 FELGTU3 REKN
5/22/2013 - Ogeechee Bar, Georgia, United States - 1172-98221 FELGTU3 REKN
5/25/2013 - Ogeechee Bar, Georgia, United States - 1172-98221 FELGTU3 REKN
10/1/2013 - Caladesi Island State Park - north, Florida, United States - 1172-98221 FELGTU3 REKN  Click here to see a picture
2/10/2015 - Sanibel Island - Bowman's Beach to Blind Pass, Florida, United States - 1172-98221 FELGTU3 REKN  Click here to see a picture
4/6/2015 - Cabretta Island, Georgia, United States - 1172-98221 FELGTU3 REKN
4/15/2015 - Cabretta Island, Georgia, United States - 1172-98221 FELGTU3 REKN
4/15/2015 - Cabretta Island, Georgia, United States - 1172-98221 FELGTU3 REKN
4/17/2015 - Cabretta Island, Georgia, United States - 1172-98221 FELGTU3 REKN
4/21/2015 - Cabretta Island, Georgia, United States - 1172-98221 FELGTU3 REKN
4/21/2015 - Cabretta Island, Georgia, United States - 1172-98221 FELGTU3 REKN
4/23/2015 - Cabretta Island, Georgia, United States - 1172-98221 FELGTU3 REKN
4/23/2015 - Cabretta Island, Georgia, United States - 1172-98221 FELGTU3 REKN
5/5/2015 - Ogeechee Bar, Georgia, United States - 1172-98221 FELGTU3 REKN
5/7/2015 - Cabretta Island, Georgia, United States - 1172-98221 FELGTU3 REKN
5/7/2015 - Cabretta Island, Georgia, United States - 1172-98221 FELGTU3 REKN
5/21/2015 - Pelican Spit, Georgia, United States - 1172-98221 FELGTU3 REKN
5/24/2015 - Little Egg Bar, Georgia, United States - 1172-98221 FELGTU3 REKN
5/24/2015 - Little Egg Bar, Georgia, United States - 1172-98221 FELGTU3 REKN
12/10/2015 - Little Estero Island Critical Wildlife Area, Florida, United States - 1172-98221 FELGTU3 REKN  Click here to see a picture
12/12/2015 - Little Estero Island Critical Wildlife Area, Florida, United States - 1172-98221 FELGTU3 REKN  Click here to see a picture
12/13/2015 - Little Estero Island Critical Wildlife Area, Florida, United States - 1172-98221 FELGTU3 REKN  Click here to see a picture
1/30/2016 - Sanibel Island- lighthouse vicinity, Florida, United States - 1172-98221 FELGTU3 REKN  Click here to see a picture

Friday, February 12, 2016

Birds on the Beach- Sanibel Island Lighthouse Park

Ruddy Turnstone

Snowy Plover

Snowy Plover

Great Black-backed Gull
Red Knot

A bonanza of sea life washed onto the Sanibel beaches after gale force winds and multiple days of rain.

-Tom


Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Sanibel Island Lighthouse and Point Ybel

After two days of constant rain, which some some parts of southwest Florida receive nearly four inches of rain, and then a day of cloudy and cold conditions, my last day on Sanibel proved to be perfect weather.  My Mom and I left Bonita Springs, where her and I my dad are renting a place for a few months, at 6:15, driving across the Sanibel causeway just as the sun was rising.  What a spectacular drive it was!  Our first stop on the island was Lighthouse Park, where I gladly put eight dollars into the parking ticket machine in return two hours of shelling, birding and photography.






There are very few views like this in southwest Florida.  Sanibel is a throwback to simpler times, for sure.

-Tom

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

A few more things from Days 1-4



I left out a few things from days 1-4 that I wanted to share, and then I'll get to Sanibel, which was like a different world, simply because it wasn't cloudy or raining.

Here's one I missed posting yesterday taken at Lovers Key State Park- a Wilson's Plover, which was a first sighting for me.  There intermediate in size between the much smaller piping and snowy plovers (they're coming) and the Black-bellied Plover, which is giant.  I observed three of these birds on the sandflat.  They pretty much either stood or ran.  I didn't observe them eating, unlike the nearby Least Sandpipers, which never stopped foraging. 

Here's proof that not every gray and yellow warbler is a Palm Warbler.  This Yellow-rumped Warbler was quite curious of my presence at the Rookery Swamp boardwalk. 

Photographing Bald Eagles is nice in Ohio, but there's something special when one is perched in a tree full of Tillandsia bromeliads. Can't get that shot in the Buckeye State.

When I visited Florida in late January, 2015, the television weather people were lamenting the lack of rain.  Not this year.  El Nino typically means cold, gray, and wet winter weather for Florida.  While I was there, the local airport beat its previous record for most January rain, topping somewhere over 10".  An inch or so for the month is typical.  Luckily, I rented a compact SUV that had no problems going through the "roads" that had become rivers.

The Everglades are a giant river, flowing roughly, from North to South.  The many roads across the system act as endless low head dams.  Yes, there are culverts under the road, but when there is too much water, the roads flood.  Take a look at the video below- the water couldn't wait to get past this road.

-Tom

video