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Red-shouldered Hawk

December 28, 2022

My thanks to Susan Lawrence for allowing access to her property to photograph this elegant woodland hawk. As usual these woodland birds perch for long periods behind branches so auto focus is a no go. I used manual focus with high ISO. The the second of these two photos is superior in definition The branches are nice and sharp which figures.

I hope to return after a heavy snowfall to photograph this bird in the snowscape. It is an annual regular but could still be considered rare.

Red-shouldered Hawk

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USS Gerald R. Ford

December 20, 2022

The USS Gerald R. Ford visited Halifax recently. I was fortunate since it left shortly after I photographed this magnificent vessel. Shore crew were just loading up from harbour tour vessels.

It was generous of the US Navy to position some of their air complement on the deck.

The trick with photographing ships in Halifax Harbour is finding a viewpoint that isn't cluttered with buildings and power lines. Most of the harbour front is restricted for safety and security reasons except for the nice public walk on the Halifax side and a smaller public walk on the Dartmouth side.

Courtesty of Wikipedia:

USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) is the lead ship of her class of United States Navy aircraft carriers. The ship is named after the 38th President of the United States, Gerald Ford, whose World War II naval service included combat duty aboard the light aircraft carrier Monterey in the Pacific Theater.[15]

Construction began on 11 August 2005, when Northrop Grumman held a ceremonial steel cut for a 15-ton plate that forms part of a side shell unit of the carrier.[16] The keel of Gerald R. Ford was laid down on 13 November 2009.[4] She was christened on 9 November 2013.[6] Gerald R. Ford entered the fleet replacing the decommissioned USS Enterprise (CVN-65), which ended her 51 years of active service in December 2012.[17][18] Originally scheduled for delivery in 2015,[19] Gerald R. Ford was delivered to the Navy on 31 May 2017[2] and formally commissioned by President Donald Trump on 22 July 2017.[3][20][21] The Navy announced that the carrier will sail on her first deployment sometime during 2022.[22] As of 2017, she is the world's largest aircraft carrier, and the largest warship ever constructed in terms of displacement.[23]


Ford in U.S. Navy uniform, circa 1945.

In 2006, while Gerald Ford was still alive, Senator John Warner of Virginia proposed to amend a 2007 defense-spending bill to declare that CVN-78 "shall be named the USS Gerald Ford."[24] The final version, signed by President George W. Bush on 17 October 2006,[25] declared only that it "is the sense of Congress that ... CVN-78 should be named the U.S.S. Gerald R. Ford."[26] Since such "sense of" language is typically non-binding and does not carry the force of law, the Navy was not required to name the ship after Ford.[27]

On 3 January 2007, former United States Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld announced that the aircraft carrier would be named after Ford during a eulogy for President Ford at Grace Episcopal Church in East Grand Rapids, Michigan.[28] Rumsfeld indicated that he had personally told Ford of the honor during a visit to his home in Rancho Mirage a few weeks before Ford's death. This makes the aircraft carrier one of the few U.S. ships named after a living person. Later in the day, the Navy confirmed that the aircraft carrier would indeed be named after the former president.[29] On 16 January 2007, Navy Secretary Donald Winter officially named CVN-78 USS Gerald R. Ford. Ford's daughter Susan Ford Bales was named the ship's sponsor. The announcements were made at a Pentagon ceremony attended by Vice President Dick Cheney, Senators Warner (R-VA) and Levin (D-MI), Major General Guy C. Swan III, Bales, Ford's other three children, and others.[30]

The USS America Carrier Veterans Association (CVA) had pushed to name the ship USS America. The CVA is an association of sailors who served aboard USS America (CV-66). The carrier was decommissioned in 1996 and scuttled in 2005 in the Atlantic, as part of a damage test of large deck aircraft carriers.[31] The name "America" was instead assigned to USS America (LHA-6), an amphibious assault ship commissioned in 2014.[32][33]


USS Gerald R. Ford

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Northern Mockingbird

November 29, 2022

The Northern Mockingbird is a beloved bird with an attitude and a song to match. It's one of Nova Scotia's three mimic thrushes; Northern Mockingbird, Brown Thrasher and Grey Catbird. It has the most diverse song of the three mimic thrushes and sounds like a flock of birds singing from a single bush.

Look for it in multiflora brambles where it will reside all winter until the berries give out and then its off to the next shrub.

Northern Mockingbird

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Great Egret

November 23, 2022

I photographed this Great Egret two days ago. Its getting late for this wader as the salt marshes and inland ponds are beginning to ice in.

This healthy bird should make it south if it leaves immediately.

Great Egret

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Peggy's Cove at Night

November 12, 2022

Whilst waiting for the Pleiades and Orion to rise in the eastern sky I took some photos of Peggy's Cove at night. I've added some twinkling to the stars and lens flare in one photo for drama but sometimes plain old, "as it is", photos are the best.

Peggy's Cove Light at Night

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The Pleiades

November 12, 2022

The Pleiades an open star cluster rises in the east these days and is relatively easy to find and photograph. To the naked eye it looks like a fuzzy ball.

Telescopes with central obstructions which have spokes to hold their reflecting mirrors cause diffraction spikes which are typical in photos of the cluster. Refractors such as telephoto lens do not have this optical defect and show the cluster as round spots as they should be however to add visual drama to the photos I've introduced twinklings.

Courtesy of Wikipedia:

The Pleiades (/ˈpl.ədz, ˈpl-, ˈpl-/),[7][8] also known as The Seven Sisters, Messier 45 and other names by different cultures, is an asterism and an open star cluster containing middle-aged, hot B-type stars in the north-west of the constellation Taurus. At a distance of about 444 light years, it is among the nearest star clusters to Earth. It is the nearest Messier object to Earth, and is the most obvious cluster to the naked eye in the night sky.

The cluster is dominated by hot blue luminous stars that have formed within the last 100 million years. Reflection nebulae around the brightest stars were once thought to be left over material from their formation, but are now considered likely to be an unrelated dust cloud in the interstellar medium through which the stars are currently passing.[9] This dust cloud is estimated to be moving at a speed of approximately 18 km/s relative to the stars in the cluster.[10]

Computer simulations have shown that the Pleiades were probably formed from a compact configuration that resembled the Orion Nebula.[11] Astronomers estimate that the cluster will survive for about another 250 million years, after which it will disperse due to gravitational interactions with its galactic neighborhood.[12]

The Pleiades

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Blood Moon

November 08, 2022

The Blood Moon is the culmination of the total lunar eclipse of November 8, 2022.

I was lucky since a column of clouds marched by but I managed to photograph around them and by total eclipse all the clouds were gone.

Blood Moon

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Ash-throated Flycatcher the Re-edit

November 07, 2022

I tried to get the noise out of the photo but unfortunately the definition of the original image is compromised by the excessive noise and cannot be fully recovered. The severe backlighting and subsequent underexposure of the subject also did not help.

Back before I returned to the art of photography some twenty years ago I encountered this bird on a roadside shed roof with lots of insects to eat and great lighting.

Ash-throated Flycatcher

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Ash-throated Flycatcher

November 06, 2022

I made an error this morning in photographing the Ash-throated Flycatcher. When I first arrived it was quite dark in the brush so I cranked up my ISO to 6400 but then failed to reduce it when the light became better. The high ISO in bright light produced images that I could not save. I should use auto ISO and fixed shutter shutter speed in these circumstances.

I will try again tomorrow hoping the bird is still there.

Ash-throated Flycatcher

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The Nuthatches and Ruby-crowned Kinglet

November 02, 2022

On my recent trip to Brier Island I was fortunate to find both of our nesting nuthatch species; the Red-breasted Nuthatch and the White-breasted Nuthatch. As a bonus and special treat I also found a Ruby-crowned Kinglet.

The White-breasted Nuthatch in this series was foraging in shadow. It typically migrates although a few do overwinter. The Red-breasted Nuthatch is the hardier of the two species and readily overwinters and visits bird feeders.

The Ruby-crowned Kinglet was a special treat both to find and successfully photograph. The kinglets are notorious among nature photographers since they seldon stay still, constantly flitting from place to place. The song of the Ruby-crowned Kinglet will knock your socks off!

Red-breasted Nuthatch

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Ruby-crowned Kinglet

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White-breasted Nuthatch

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Eastern Bluebird

November 01, 2022

I went to Brier Island for a couple of days. On my first day, last Friday, I spotted a dozen Eastern Bluebirds on wires beside the road to the western light near the two cemeteries. I managed one usable photo, the last one in this series. I spoke to a local who said there was a flock of 500 Eastern Bluebirds the day before. Now that would have been a sight.

The best photo I captured, the first one below, was the following day about thirty minutes before sunset. Although the photograph required severe cropping the lighting of the late day sun made the blue birds appear quite striking.

Eastern Bluebird

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Northern Cardinal

October 31, 2022

When we first came to Nova Scotia in 2000 the Northern Cardinal was rare to uncommon in the preferred habitat of mature deciduous trees. Now it is common in this preferred habitat.

It toughs out our winters with us and the male and female are both a sight to behold in the snow.

These examples are feasting on seed heads, a rather messy meal.

Northern Cardinal

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Brier Island Scenes

October 19, 2022

Brier Island is hot and cold, usually cold, for birds but the scenery is always a treat. If you visit and the sea is calm take the whale watching trip. It's four hours long so prepare accordingly.

Brier Island Scenery

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Brier Island Sunset

October 19, 2022

On a recent trip to Brier Island I photographed the sunset. The spokes are always a bonus if you can get them.

Brier Island Sunset From Southern Light

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Night Sky Above Rees Lake

October 19, 2022

Rees Lake accessed from the the Old Annapolis Trail is a challenge for my 4X4. Don't try it with your family RAV or any vehicle without low range. It's rough and rocky (big rocks) but once there you get a gorgeous view of the southern sky over Rees Lake

Our Moon

The moon is not a welcome addition when one is trying to photograph the night sky.

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This is a 190 degree view of Rees Lake. I usually end up with my foot in the frame with this lens.

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