In this fanciful, dawn display, we see high-altitude clouds lit up brightly by a sun still hidden from our view. The intense colors result from the shallow angle at which the sun’s light hits the clouds.

These celestial delights seem to be occurring earlier and earlier with each passing the year. This is the first such I can remember in warm September. Two years ago, I saw one in mild October, thinking how early that was. Prior to that, I had come to expect them only in the coldest months, November through January, when the sun is at or near its lowest point in the sky.

Here, the sun is rising behind the high ridge along the eastern shore. It is in the east-southeast. By December 21, the day of the winter solstice, it will rise in the south-southeast. The scene was recorded on September 26, 2014, at 6:59 am.

At this early hour, the vapor trails were probably produced by military aircraft leaving Hanscomb Air Force base in nearby Bedford, Massachusetts.

Click the image to view it full screen, and click the back arrow to return. Cursor over the image to see its description. Enjoy!
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Related:  Lava Dawn*, Orange Dawn*

 

I first saw this small hawk through the single French door in the back. It was busily plucking a dead mourning dove on the lawn. It had apparently made the kill a few feet away on the terrace, as evidenced by the small pool of blood and feathers on the stonework.

After consulting The Sibley Guide to Birds, I judged it must be a broad-winged hawk. Its small size and wide tail stripes were definitive. This is the smallest of all hawks, and occurs throughout the eastern half of the United States and Canada.

But this wasn’t just any broad-wing; it was the rare dark morph, which my neighbor, Jim, a birder of some experience, confirmed. According to Sibley, the dark morph is rare in the Great Plains where it breeds, and rarer still this far from home.

Fearing my subject might fly off at any moment, I snapped a few quick shots through the insulating glass and screen, resigning myself to a fuzzy image. To open a door or window was out of the question. So, I tip-toed out the front door and sneaked quietly around to the back for a cleaner shot. By the time I got there, however, the rare bird had flown off and taken its prey with it, leaving only a forlorn puddle of gray and white feathers on the lawn.

The date was September 15, 2014, and the time, 6:31 pm. Click the image to view it full screen, and click the back arrow to return. Cursor over the image to see its description. Enjoy!
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Related:  Resting Dove.

 

Two anglers afloat in the early morning fog were reminiscent of a Norman Rockwell painting. The surface fog was produced by relatively warm pond water evaporating into cool morning air.

The date was September 15, 2014, and the time, 6:38 am. Astronomical sunrise occurred a few minutes earlier, at 6:24 am. About twenty minutes later, the sun topped the eastern ridge and banished the fog.

Click the image to view it full screen, and click the back arrow to return. Cursor over the image to see its description. Enjoy!
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Related:  Early Birds.

 

The birds are back, at least some of them. Every day, now, I see one or two Double-crested Cormorants on the small, emergent rock in mid-pond that has traditionally been their roost of choice. And every day, I also see a Great Blue Heron at various spots around the pond, flying, wading, perching, always on the hunt for fish, and apparently doing so with a renewed enthusiasm. Most encouragingly, I see a few gulls of various species starting to gather.

If the birds are coming back, then almost certainly the small Bluegill sunfish, that died off so massively and mysteriously in March 2012, are starting to recover as well. I know that some pond residents are skeptical of that linkage, but we should learn more about all this when/if MassWildlife comes next spring to conduct a survey of the fish populations, as they tentatively promised to do.

The Largemouth Bass are not in question; they’ve been here all along — although I took on face value a recent, and as it turns out, erroneous report by an angler that their numbers were down. My normal skepticism was blunted when I heard his account, by the relative absence of anglers on the pond most of the summer. When I later questioned another person fishing near shore, he opined that the anglers were deterred by a new, grassy weed that gets tangled in the propellers of their electric trolling motors, as well as in their lures. I had heard that complaint before, so it seemed a reasonable explanation. Apparently, the herbicide treatment this spring slowed this invasive plant, but it has since come back, especially in the shallows.

Both birds, above, are perched atop the eponymously named Heron Rock. Both are seen in silhouette, which is just coincidence, the result of lighting conditions at the time. Click an image to view it full screen, and click the back arrow to return. Cursor over each image to see its description. Enjoy!
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Related:  Dead Fish*, The Last Heron*, The Last Heron II*

 

In early spring every year, our city applies herbicide to the pond, as a means of controlling several invasive aquatic plants. In the past, these fast-growing species have all but taken over this shallow pond, and have required expensive mechanical harvesting to remove them.

The state-approved herbicide breaks down, we’re told, and does not remain in the water. So far, the herbicide program has worked well — beyond all expectations, I’d say — with no apparent downside.

The photo was taken June 14, 2014. Click the image to view it full screen, and click the back arrow to return. Cursor over the image to see its description. Enjoy!
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Related:  Two Boats

 

This dawn photo caught my fancy. Obviously, it’s not in a class with those lavish, ethereal displays that we see far to the southeast during the cold winter months, but it has what artists call a “pictorial” quality.

It was windless morning. A still expectancy had settled over the pond. The sun had topped the high ridge along the eastern shore some twenty minutes earlier, but it remained stubbornly hidden behind a dense bank of clouds. Alas, the wire fencing in the foreground is a necessary evil; it keeps the geese from coming up and eating the lawn.

The view is toward the east-southeast. Just visible on the shore opposite is a large rental community, which is hidden by foliage during the summer months. The date was April 9, 2014, and the time 6:57 am.

Click the image to view it full screen, and click the back arrow to return. Cursor over the image to see its description. Enjoy!
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Related:  Cold Dawns 2013-2014*.