Category Archives: Commentary

Road Less Traveled…

Apologies to Robert Frost. No matter how I tried to work a title I came back to him.

Road Less Traveled...
Road Less Traveled…

Somewhere down there I dropped Ellen off to explore a side trail up a dike. I drove off in her car down this highway.

Here we have pine forests on one side, large open marshes on the other. An environment for most any critter you can think of.

Road Less Traveled...
Road Less Traveled…

And yes, the ‘road’ does change a bit. Perfect, as long as it’s dry. The slight turn ahead takes you out into the middle of open dikes and marshes.

Road Less Traveled...
Road Less Traveled…

Finally this is where I stopped to wait for the ‘explorer’ down the dikes.

This is the value of having a second camera / lens ready for wide shots. My trusty Tamron, not so great, 18-400 mm lens works pretty good out here.

ACE Basin, South Carolina.

 

They Are Taking Over, Anole

They are cheap entertainment, not a concern yet, and their numbers are growing. These are Carolina Anole, small local lizards.

They Are Taking Over, Anole
They Are Taking Over, Anole

At some time or another most of them seem to be living on my porch. I think it’s the nursery. After they reach some size they go out into the world.

They Are Taking Over, Anole
They Are Taking Over, Anole
They Are Taking Over, Anole
They Are Taking Over, Anole

The younger ones are less than an inch and love to catch things that fit through the minuet holes in the screen, basically they start off eating the ‘no-see-ums’. I’m good with that.

You do need to keep an eye out. They tend to go where ever they please.

They Are Taking Over, Anole
They Are Taking Over, Anole

For size perspective, above is a coat hook and a juvenile Anole.

They Are Taking Over, Anole
They Are Taking Over, Anole
They Are Taking Over, Anole
They Are Taking Over, Anole

They will venture out through the openings in the screen door, or anywhere else there may be squeezing room. They are smart enough to return to the relative safety of the porch, or at least patio plants until near adulthood. Adults are usually 5 -6 inches but in theory can grow to 18 inches.

One big question I have, where do they hatch? Could be some of our larger potted plants. Imagine bringing the pots in this fall and having a surprise a few days later !!!!

 

Monopod – Ballhead

OK, an article mostly off topic for this web site, gear. Specifically Monopods and Ballheads. They have been an ongoing topic of conversation and comments. Just today with Donna from BayPhoto.

So, it’s raining…again. I went to the car and dragged out my favorite Monopod. Apologize in advance, I did not clean it.

This setup is at least 7 years old and has seen lots of use.

Monopod - Ballhead
Monopod – Ballhead

A monopod is portable, lighter than a Tripod, and much more versatile when out shooting wildlife. Cumbersome for birds in flight, but with practice it is doable, less keepers because you will be flailing around.

The Monopod is a Benro ‘Adventure X’ model. They have multiples, I use the 3 length model, for no particular reason. It is tall enough that I never pull it out full length (not that I am tall). Cost is $ 150 – 250 US dollars. Average price for good ‘pro’ gear.

Carbon fiber, a soft rubber grip, and (important) a strong fabric loop.

Carbon Fiber is strong and light. I have used my Benro as a walking stick when stuck in deep snow. Even after falling it has held me up with no problems.

The loop, just use an old military style belt through it and now you can carry it over your shoulder. It weighs nothing. Carrying anything while out is a pain, you don’t want it attached all the time, this makes it easy. A Tripod is like carrying around the Eiffel Tower, and scaring everything in a 2 mile radius.

Monopod - Ballhead
Monopod – Ballhead

Flip locks are the main reason I use this. I can hold the camera/lens in one hand and flip open / close the legs instantly. No screwing rubber rings that take time and too much movement.

The small rubber foot is both good and bad, mostly good. On a hard surface it gives leverage and stable motion. When it gets caught is dead grass…not so good, stuck in mud, hope no one is watching.

The flip locks will get loose after a few years, simple to tighten with an Allen Wrench. I have tightened maybe 3 times over the years.

Monopod - Ballhead
Monopod – Ballhead

You can’t tighten a twist lock if they get loose. In fairness we have some and they are not loose yet after years.

Monopod - Ballhead
Monopod – Ballhead

A proper Ballhead is more expensive than the Monopod.

Personally I think a Gimbal type is too bulky for a Monopod. Probably best for Tripods.

Above is an Induro with quick release. This exact model is no longer available. It appears they simply changed the number, marketing at it’s finest. Cost here is $ 150-250 US.

There is more then enough flexibility and motion range options with this head.

This type has a bottom plate and must be screwed to the base of the camera or long lens. I keep a short screwdriver in my bag, a US quarter (25 cent) coin works fine too.

There are easier quick release styles that work with a ‘button’ push to release the camera. Might be called Arca Swiss.  I have a light weight one, too light for this. That type of release viewed online was either part of smaller Ballheads or expensive models. Both fine depending on your use.

In summary, this is the setup I keep in the car. We shoot constantly, so all the above has proven to be durable. The Benro in use at -10 below up to 100+, a lot.

 

 

From Charleston To NYC Central Park

Yes, there are Water Buffalo in South Carolina. Here is proof, and it’s not a zoo.

They have been used in rice fields throughout Asia for centuries. Perfect for working in the marsh and mud.

Until the US Civil War, South Carolina was one of the worlds largest rice exporters. Makes sense for the plantations to get their own Water Buffalo, and they did.

From Charleston To NYC Central Park
From Charleston To NYC Central Park

Middleton Plantation was taken and ransacked by Federal troops in 1865. The Buffalo were used to feed troops, except for a small number.

Some of the animals that were saved became the property of a northern officer. Most likely from New York.

Why New York? If you have ever been to the Central Park Zoo you might have seen Water Buffalo. The first generation were captured in Middleton Plantation.

From Charleston To NYC Central Park
From Charleston To NYC Central Park

 

Often Described Heron Trunk

This is an image best viewed large since the article is all about the details here.

Below is a ‘trunk’ I have tried to describe as part of multiple other articles. Here a Black-crowned Night Heron sits on a supporting pilon. A favorite fishing spot.

Water flows through the wood gate on the far right side. Alligator warnings and other rules are posted on it.

Often Described Heron Trunk
Often Described Heron Trunk

The main part of the structure, a huge wooden rectangular box runs underground, right through the middle of this dike.

Another wooden gate is on the other side. Opening and closing each side regulates the water flow back and forth. The marshes all have trunks. You could open them in a row of  connected dikes. That means water flows back and forth, through all the trunks, to regulate hundreds of marshes. A clever system that was first in use along the west African coast, hundreds of years ago.

A small Heron like below, or Egrets, can be found standing right in that same spot. A few times I was sure it was the same Night Heron until I noticed a second one watching from nearby.

Often Described Heron Trunk
Often Described Heron Trunk

It’s very simple to look below, spot a small fish, then drop down and grab him. The water is deep, may have a current, or more likely…an Alligator. They like fish too.

A Christmas Duck

Merry Christmas to all. This year we were blessed with duck.

The famous Bangor Police Department ‘Duck Of Justice’.

A Christmas Duck
A Christmas Duck

Officer TC (Tim Cotton) took an old worn stuffed duck from a dumpster and introduced him to the Bangor PD interrogation room. He became the ‘Duck Of Justice’, fame followed and the rest is history.

Now 320,000 friends follow the day to day of the Bangor PD on Facebook.

The DOJ has a small glass case, in a special museum, in headquarters. Stars of TV, Film, Sports, and photography all visit the duck for a selfie… no really!  He has been on a US tour, and of course TV. Visitors are always welcome, you might even get cookies.

A Christmas Duck
A Christmas Duck

Above is the well known Quote Of Duck.

We have not seen our friend for a few years but my Sister in-Law and Brother in-Law reminded the DOJ to send along a Merry Christmas to the southern expats.

If you ever visit Facebook, go see TC and the DOJ. Enjoy a gentle and humorous face a being with the police in Bangor.

A Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all out there on the ‘interweb’.