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These lovely sunset photos were submitted by readers in response to my sunRISE post, Orange Dawn. Sunrise or sunset, I won’t quibble; they’re beautiful photos and deserve some recognition.

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Every spring and fall, ducks of all kinds pause here at the pond during their seasonal migration. Those visiting in the largest numbers are the tiny Buffleheads, the slightly larger Ruddy Ducks, the peppy Hooded Mergansers, and the uncommonly graceful Common Mergansers.

This fall the mergansers barely touched down before they were on their way again. The fishing was off. A small sunfish, the bluegill, had been a mainstay of their diet. Once abundant in the pond, it is now scarce due to a massive die-off last March.

The Bufflehead flock was small this fall. It lingered for only a few days, but was followed by a steady stream of stragglers. The Ruddy Ducks, more cohesive, will leave en masse after several weeks’ stay. These two species dive for aquatic insects, and aquatic plants at the bottom of the shallow pond, so they were not affected by the fish kill.

The photo was taken at 7:46 am on October 18, 2012. Dawn officially arrived at 7:01 that day. When the sun topped the eastern ridge twenty minutes later, its low, brilliant light set the scene aglow in exotic color.

See related posts: Dead Fish, Fog at First Light*. Click image to enlarge it, and browser’s back arrow to close. Comments are welcome.

 

The great old willow on my neighbor’s property held up pretty well during Hurricane Sandy. As the 60 mph gusts roared across the pond from the east, the old tree whipped back and forth like a sapling.

Ultimately, though, age and brittleness caught up with it. A great, trunk-like piece broke off at a point about 150 feet above the ground. One can only guess its weight, but I’d say at least 1,000 pounds. It flew in an easterly direction almost as far as it fell. Crossing the road, it crashed down on my neighbor’s front yard, fortunately missing the house and car, but smashing the dog fence and spreading leafy debris everywhere.

Cleanup is on hold, pending a visit from the insurance adjuster. Taken October 30, 2012.

See related post: Oriole Nest. Click image to enlarge it, and browser’s back arrow to close. Comments are welcome.

 

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This post is titled, “Orange Dawn,” but mauve and peach share the honors; it could equally have been called, “Tricolor Dawn.”

Richly colored dawns like this usually occur in the frigid period from late November to early January, when the sun is at its lowest point in the sky, and farthest to the southeast. Occasionally, they may be seen earlier in mild October, when the sun rises just south of east. Two of the latter are linked below.

Spectacular dawns are high altitude affairs: the clouds are both high and distant, catching the early rays of the sun before it rises above the horizon and washes out their ephemeral beauty. Because they’re far, the cloud formations appear to us at a shallow angle, giving intensity to their colors. This in turn is possible because the sun, itself, is far (southerly) this time of year.

These scenes were recorded just seconds apart, at 6:56 am on October 12, 2012. For the second and third shots, I progressively extended the zoom lens to bring the scene closer. It’s interesting to see how this reframing transforms the scene.

Which do you prefer? If pressed, I’d choose the middle one, as slightly more dramatic, more “magical.” Below each image I’ve noted the focal length of the zoom lens, in 35mm terms, for those who may be interested.

See related posts: Vapor Trails at Dawn*, Pearly Dawn*.

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The dead leaves adrift on the water’s surface are a poignant reminder of the season’s end, and a promise of rebirth in the spring. In a similar manner, the worn plumage of the Great Blue Heron hints at its renewal by molt.

Online, I was able to find only brief references to this bird’s molting habits. Several writers pointed out that the juvenile molts four times in its first two years of life, as it sheds its youthful plumage in favor of adult feathers. Another mentioned that the adult molts before the breeding season, which in these parts occurs from March through May.

This photo of a juvenile great blue was taken on October 11, 2012 at 1:11 pm. It is one of two such birds that have been seen on the pond lately, the other being an adult.

Click to hear a Great Blue Heron call (courtesy Wikipedia Commons).

See related posts: Great Blue Icon*, Great Blue at Dawn*. Click image to enlarge it, and browser’s back arrow to close. Comments are welcome, indeed eagerly sought.

 

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Recently, I again caught sight of that brilliant, but mysterious secondary reflection of sunlight off the water. Mysterious, because the source is usually hard to spot. This time, though, there was no mistaking it, as the second photo reveals. Sadly, the fabulous glitter was absent because the water was calm.

The photos were taken on the evening of September 24, 2012. The time is noted under each.

See related posts: Glitter*, Glitter II, Glitter IV.

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