First quarter moon, January 1, 2012

moon20120101

The last day of 2011 was beautiful here in south Florida. Started off cool (chilly, even), but warmed nicely throughout the day. Since it was the first Saturday after Christmas, I was out in the field on the West Palm Beach Christmas Bird Count, and the weather proved mildly conducive to the birds we were seeking; a morning’s work yielded 50 species in some pretty marginal habitat. I’ll have more on the bird count later.

I spent the afternoon at the beach with Eric, who decided that a dead-tired-from-birding Daddy had no excuse not to take him, and I’m glad [...]

End of an era

Way back in the fall of 2008, I got the nature geek’s equivalent of the Holy Grail: a digital camera with an adapter for a spotting scope. Thus began the era of digiscoping on Benweb. The camera was a Nikon Coolpix P5100, a 12-megapixel wonder with more shooting modes than anyone could possibly know what to do with: video, stop motion, all the standard shooting modes (P, M, S, A), etc. But the two things that really made it exciting were that it had a strong, light magnesium housing (lightweight cameras don’t overbalance the scope as much as heavier ones [...]

Patience pays off

Well, patience pays off. Last night I got a pretty decent shot of Day 6 of this month’s lunation:

And tonight, I had all but given up hope of shooting the moon after only 7 days, because of the low but very heavy cloud cover that we were experiencing all evening. But I decided to make a bunch of feature maps, and that kept me up and interested enough that the clouds went away, and voilĂ : the streak continues! Day seven of this January’s lunation yields a picture:

Astronomy is one of those pursuits that does indeed [...]

January moon, day three

Today was a glorious Martin Luther King day, except for the fact that I didn’t get to celebrate it as a holiday. Instead, I was inside, chained to my desk all day. So when I got home tonight, and finally finished the last conference call of the day, I grabbed the opportunity for my “garbage moment” with both hands. (If you’re familiar with the cute but not particularly funny comic, Rose is Rose, you know what a garbage moment is: that moment when Dad gets to commune with the great outdoors while taking care of the domestic chores.)

And tonight’s [...]

Saturday stroll

On the weekends I get to spend a lot more time with my son than I can during the week. There’s no rush to get out the door; no meeting to prepare for; no freeway traffic to fret about. The morning stroll can last quite a bit longer; we can take more than one, if the fancy strikes us, as it did today. Even during the week, though, when time is at a premium, Eric and I always find the time to go for a morning stroll, unless it’s pouring down rain. It’s usually just down to the corner and [...]

Migration Day at Green Cay

Green Cay Nature Center hosted its second annual Migration Day on Saturday, October 18th. Despite having laryngitis last year, I was apparently popular enough as a speaker to be invited back for a second time! This time I was able to go around the boardwalk once before my talk, which was very nice. It gave me a chance to practice digiscoping in ideal conditions: lots of light, wide open vistas, and stationary birds. Here are a few shots:

[Show as slideshow]

My lecture, on some of the migratory shorebirds of Palm Beach County and the various threats facing them due [...]

Just past full

Last night, I actually had a moment or two after putting the boy to bed. So I went outside and fiddled around a bit more with my digiscoping setup. I took about a dozen shots of the full moon (actually, about 28 hours past full) in a rather stiff breeze. One shot, of the entire batch, actually came out fairly well. On the left is the shot as it comes out of the Nikon’s memory chip: lots of color that really wasn’t there in the live image, or in the LCD screen until the camera started to actually take the [...]

New gear, part two

Well, I finally got a chance to figure out how the threaded adapter works to mate my new digicam to my trusty Televue-60 spotting scope. Here’s how it works:

First, as I did in part one, unscrew the thread cover from the camera. Then attach the camera adapter to the camera.

Now, in part two, the new stuff:

[...]

New gear

The birthday wish list of a naturalist is pretty simple: books and gear. Gear and books. Maybe some new gear and some old books? How about some new gear and some new books? While I didn’t get that shiny iPhone everyone seems to want (there’s always next year!), I got something that should turn out to be a whole lot more useful, and that doesn’t have the dreaded monthly contract: a high-resolution point-and-shoot digital camera:

[...]