Big Day for Wildlife

Yesterday (2-25-19) was a big day for wildlife viewing in the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument, in northern New Mexico. Shucks, it’s only a National Monument, but has populations of wildlife that rival National Parks. And this is especially so in the winter, when a variety of northern ducks and bald eagles arrive at the generally ice-free waters of the Rio Grande to winter.

In less than an hour’s time, I was able to observe and photograph the creatures that follow. This first movie is of a pair of mallards feeding on midges that have been caught up in foam.

Not over two miles upstream, I spotted a group of bighorn ewes and young, part way up the slope on the far side of the river.

After filming this group of sheep, I looked back down at the river, and saw a long cylindrical shape in the water, which was, of course, an otter. I was seated in my van, using it as a blind, and the otter was about 160′ away (measured with Google Earth), so it was not alarmed. It swam leisurely up and down along the shoreline for a few minutes, before climbing out of the river.

OtterDSCN0451.jpg

Otter

A few minutes later, I filmed this group of ducks from an elevated pull-out. All but two of the ducks are goldeneyes. The two ducks closest to shore, with more pointy heads, are ring-necks. And a female mallard passes through the group.

Bald eagle on basalt boulder

Bald eagle

My last sighting was this bald eagle, which circled above me and landed on a basalt boulder. I then returned downstream to a pool where, yesterday, I caught a hefty rainbow trout that was rising to midges. But there were no risers there, and I caught nothing. Did I go home disappointed? Not a chance! Catching something would have been only the sprinkles on the icing on the cake. The Rio Grande had again provided precious moments of being with wildlife.

p.s. while the wintering birds arrive on their own, the bighorns and otters have been returned to the Rio Grande via very successful stocking efforts.

 

Posted in Birding, Nature, Photography, Rio Grande del Norte National Monument | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Where I Stand On Israel

I regret that hostility to Israel is becoming increasingly prevalent around the world, as its right-wing government escalates its conflict with the Palestinian people. The latest flashpoint, Gaza, is illustrative of the continuing problem. Why are there so many Palestinians in Gaza, and why are they physically separated from the rest of the Palestinian territory? These are primarily the people who fled south towards Egypt during the Israeli War of Independence, but were not allowed entry into Egypt. Egypt didn’t want them, and, moreover, reasoned that the plight of these refugees could be used as leverage against Israel. They were, thus, bottled-up between Israel and Egypt in what was then known as the Gaza Strip, and there they and their descendants remain.  Israel took control of Gaza as a result of the Six-day War, but relinquished it to self-rule in 2005, in the attempt to trade land for peace. Peace was not achieved, however, because the Hamas organization immediately won political control of Gaza, and began using it as a base to launch rocket and other attacks on the Israeli populace. Israel’s increasingly harsh tactics towards Gaza are in response to the continuing attacks. This is the problem in a nutshell.  So long as elements of the Palestinian population refuse to accept the State of Israel, and continue their attacks, peace will remain unattainable.

I visited Israel for a few months during the winter of 1962/3, during which time I lived and worked at a kibbutz – a communal farm. My initial interest in Israel was two-fold – I’m Jewish and have always considered myself a Socialist. My very positive experience at the kibbutz spoke to my interest in Socialism, and I could have happily remained there. And Israel was a very different country then, being far more left-leaning than today. I attribute the change to the influence of the religious parties. I am not religious. Rather, I consider myself a member of the Jewish tribe, which does not require religious practice of me .

So, here’s how I stand on Israel.

Does Israel have the “right” to exist? This question can be looked at in at least two ways:

a. Even though colonialism drove many or most indigenous people of the world off their ancestral lands, they are still generally considered to be the rightful occupants of the land where they live or lived. Likewise, the Jewish people are an indigenous group that lived in the eastern Mediterranean before being driven out by the Romans. This is year 5778 on the Jewish calendar, and the religion is considered to be 3500 years old. The Jewish people have a long memory, and still worship at the Western Wall, in Jerusalem, which is a relic of a temple that was destroyed in 70 CE by the Romans.  The Jewish people dispersed to most corners of the world (the Diaspora), but throughout this long time, Jews repeat in prayer: “Next year Jerusalem”.* If there is no statute of limitations with respect to how long an indigenous group can claim ownership of ancestral lands, then their claim to the lands of Israel is valid.

*(L’Shana Haba’ah B’Yerushalayim is a phrase that is often sung at the end of the Passover Seder and at the end of the Ne’ila service on Yom Kippur.)

b. Was the establishment of Israel an act of colonialism? Above, I point out that Roman colonialism drove the Jewish people off their lands. Yet, some insist that the Zionist movement** is colonial in nature. I’m not here going into the complex history of how and why Jews emigrated to Palestine, their reception by the British (who had a League of Nations “mandate” to govern Palestine) and the events leading up to the War of Independence. Suffice it to say that this history in no way resembles the colonial exploitation perpetrated in the Americas, Asia and Africa by most of the countries of western European. The first Zionists to enter Palestine legally purchased the lands they then resided on and farmed.

** a movement for (originally) the re-establishment and (now) the development and protection of a Jewish nation in what is now Israel. It was established as a political organization in 1897 under Theodor Herzl, and was later led by Chaim Weizmann.

I don’t intend to argue this point any further. Israel exists, and I support its continued existence. The only thing now standing in the way of peace is the continuing hostilities of those who refuse to accept Israel. And, moreover, the groups responsible for the continuing attacks on Israel have taken the balance of the Palestinian population hostage, and are largely responsible for their suffering. If Gaza is now an “open-air prison”, it is the doing of Hamas. Israel would like nothing better than to remove their blockade of Gaza in exchange for the termination of rocket attacks on its civilian population. Israel has no material interest in Gaza, having earlier turned it over to the Palestinian population in the bid to buy peace.

When hostilities cease, I support the following:

  1. the creation of a Palestinian state
  2. reparations be paid to those Palestinians who lost their homes in what is now Israel
  3. Jewish settlements in the West Bank be removed
  4. Jerusalem become a shared capital of both Israel and Palestine, with its security guaranteed by an international force
  5. and other measures to provide for the settlement of differences and to produce amicable relations between the citizens of both states.

It  is in the mutual interest of Israel and the Palestinian people to live in peace.

Posted in 1960s, Politics/Economics | Leave a comment

Birding in Northern Costa Rica, Part 2

Caño Negro, Days 3 & 4

We left Selva Verde on the morning of Day 3, headed north to Refugio Caño Negro, which  is located close to the border between Costa Rica and Nicaragua. Caño Negro more or less translates as “black creek”, and is a wetland that contains rivers and lakes (lagunas), and is part of the Caribbean lowlands. We made a stop at a restaurant located at the crossroads of Muelle San Carlos, which restaurant advertises itself as an iguana reserve. Upon our arrival, the management brought out an array of fruits and vegetables, which immediately attracted a crowd of iguanas.

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A good-looking lizard!

We made a few more roadside stops as birds were sighted, along with a boa that was displayed to us. The dirt road that led to the Refugio had lots of birds.

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White-tailed kite

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Southern lapwing

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Boa

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Bare-throated tiger heron

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Double-striped thick-knee

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Roadside hawk

Foliage at the lodge.

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Hot lips

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Pink porterweed

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Laguna, next to town

The following day, we took two boat rides, first going down the nearby river, and then up, which gave access to various riverine habitats. Also, to my surprise, I saw a large tarpon roll in front of the boat.

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Observation tower

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Evening, on the large laguna

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Bat falcon

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Great blue heron

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Gray-headed kite, about a quarter-mile distant

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Howler monkeys

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Green kingfisher, on sign warning of crocodiles

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Local angler, with rainbow bass

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Laughing falcon

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Prothonotary warbler

LineatedWoodpeckerXDSCN2804.jpg

Lineated woodpecker

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Snail kite

VariableSeedeaterXDSCN2816.jpg

Variable seedeater

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White-tailed kite

RoadsideHawkXDSCN3067.jpg

Roadside hawk

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Restaurant at the town square

And I had some precious moments with a flock of Olive-throated parakeets that were eating palm fruits on the grounds of the lodge.

Olive-throatedParakeetXDSCN2935.jpg

Olive-throated parakeets

Olive-throatedParakeetXDSCN2917.jpg

Olive-throated parakeet

Olive-throatedParakeetsXDSCN2900.jpg

Olive-throated parakeets

Olive-throatedParakeetsXDSCN2901.jpg

Olive-throated parakeets

Olive-throatedParakeetXDSCN2929.jpg

Olive-throated parakeet

We left Caño Negro on the morning of Day 5, heading to the Arenal volcano area. We saw this heron, sitting on a gate, as we started out.

Bare-throatedTigerHeronXDSCN3078.jpg

Bare-throated tiger heron

 

CR#2.jpg

Here is the link to Part 3: https://believesteve.org/?p=16422

Posted in Birding, Costa Rica | 2 Comments

Birding in Northern Costa Rica, Part 1

A year ago (November 2018), Kathy and I took a Road Scholar birding trip to Costa Rica: “Birding in Southern Costa Rica: Motmots and Quetzals”. It was fabulous! So, we decided that, this fall, we should do the other Costa Rica birding trip: “Birding in Northern Costa Rica: Tanagers to Toucans” (Nov. 2-12, 2019). It, too, was fabulous. Our group consisted of 11 personable older people – all enthusiastic birders and/or photographers, along with our initial guide Gilbert Molina (aka Chito) and the apprentice guide Cali. Both individuals were master birders, of course. As to the photography that follows – the camera I used is a Nikon Coolpix P900, a superzoom that zooms to 83X. The photographs range from sharply focused to considerably less so, but all serve the larger purpose of documenting as fully as possible the birds we saw, which totaled 300 species.

This presentation is broken into four parts, since we visited four different areas, staying for two nights each in four hotels or lodges. Our first stay was at Selva Verde, alongside the Rio Sarapiqui. The “selva” (forest) in question was Caribbean lowland rainforest. The lodge had a fruit feeding station, but no hummingbird feeders. Costa Rica now prohibits hummingbird feeders, since it is believed by some that feeders may do harm to the birds. But this prohibition is not being enforced, resulting in some birding venues that provide hummingbird feeders and others that don’t. Kathy and I provide hummingbird (and other) feeders at our home in New Mexico, and it is undeniably a fact that the best way to see and photograph birds is to offer them food.

This was borne out by our first birding stop of the trip – the La Paz Waterfalls Gardens, which is located along the route from San Jose to the Sarapiqui area. This route climbs from the capitol city of San Jose onto the slopes of Poas Volcano, before descending into the Caribbean lowlands. Thus, the Gardens are located in relatively high-elevation cloud forest, which supports a great number and diversity of bird species – and the Gardens provide many hummingbird feeders. 

DAY 1

La Paz Waterfall Gardens

Black-belliedHummingbirdDSCN2230.jpg

Black-bellied hummingbird

Black-belliedHummingbirdXDSCN2200.jpg

same as above

Coppery-headedEmerald??DSCN2247.jpg

Coppery-headed emerald hummingbird

Green-crownedBrilliantxDSCN2207.jpg

Green-crowned brilliant hummingbird

GreenCrownedBrilliant&VioletearXDSCN2218.jpg

Green-crowned brilliant (female) and green violetear hummingbirds

GreenThorntailxDSCN2216.jpg

Green thorntail hummingbird

HummingbirdSignDSCN2253.jpg

“Colibries”

Purple-throatedMountainGemxDSCN2212.jpg

Purple-throated mountain gem hummingbird

Purple-throatedMountainGemXDSCN2232.jpg

same as above, female

Purple-throatedMountain-gem2019,11,03 (39).jpg

You can’t beat this “full frontal” photo of a  Purple-throated mountain-gem, by Tom Peterson

VioletSaberwingXDSCN2226 copy.jpg

Violet sabrewing hummingbird

VioletSaberwingXDSCN2270.jpg

same as above

VioletSaberwingsXDSCN2257.jpg

same as above

BrownVioletear2019,11,03 (42).jpg

Brown violetear hummingbird, by Tom Peterson

GreenHermit2019,11,03 (57).jpg

Green hermit hummingbird, by Tom Peterson

Tawny-cappedEuphonia2019,11,03 (81).jpg

Tawny-capped euphonia, by Tom Peterson

OrchidXDSCN2221.jpg

Orchid

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Unfurling leaf

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Flowering tree

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Palm seeds

After lunch, we left the bird feeding stations and other exhibits to descend a series of steel stairways, which paralleled a number of waterfalls.

WaterfallXDSCN2289.jpg

WaterfallFernsXDSCN2284.jpg

WaterfallX DSCN2298.jpg

Our next stop was made a short distance down the road from the above, at Mirador Cinchona. A mirador is a view spot. Besides a great view of a tall waterfall, we saw our first Emerald toucanet.

Mirador Cinchona

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Waterfall, seen from Mirador Cinchona

MiradorTreeXDSCN2343.jpg

Dead tree with bromeliads

EmeraldToucanetXDSCN2303.jpg

Northern emerald toucanet

EmeraldToucanetXDSCN2308.jpg

same as above

EmeraldToucanetXDSCN2328.jpg

same as above

Flycatcher(Sp.?)XDSCN2354.jpg

Dusky-capped flycatcher (?)

Olive-backedEuphoniaXDSCN2345.jpg

Olive-backed euphonia

TennesseeWarbler??DSCN2337.jpg

Tennessee warbler (?)

Silver-throatedTanagerXDSCN2340.jpg

Silver-throated tanager

Blue-grayTanagerDSCN4751.jpg

Blue-gray tanager

Clay-coloredThrush2019,11,03 (132).jpg

Clay-colored thrush, by Tom Peterson

We ended our birding at the Mirador with a cup of coffee, and descended to the Rio Sarapiqui, and Selva Verde.

SelvaVerdeDSCN2622.jpg

Selva Verde

RioSarapiquiXXDSCN2623.jpg

Rio Sarapiqui, at Selva Verde

Day 2

One could look down at the fruit feeding table at Selva Verde from the balcony of the dining room, and could, thus, view birds while enjoying a meal or a beverage. My kind of birding!

La Selva Field Station

Our destination for the morning was the La Selva Field Station, which is part of the Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS). The Las Cruces Field Station, that we had visited the year before, is also part of OTS.

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Gartered trogon

GilbertLaSelvaDSCN2439.jpg

George (OTS guide)

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Great kiskadee

JacamarDSCN2393-denoise.jpg

Rufous-tailed jacamar

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same as above

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Turkey vultures

TuftedFlycatcherXDSCN2301.jpg

Tufted flycatcher

TuftedFlycatcherXDSCN2356.jpg

same as above

BasiliskXDSCN2424.jpg

Basilisk lizard

Black-cheekedXDSCN2476.jpg

Black-cheeked woodpecker

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Slaty-tailed trogon

Pale-billedWoodpeckerXDSCN2414.jpg

Pale-billed woodpecker

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Palm tanager

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Hoffman’s woodpecker

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Crested guan

Sloth TP 2019,11,04 (65).jpg

Sloth, by Tom Peterson

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Squirrel cuckoo, by Tom Peterson

 

 

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Red-lored parrot

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Red-lored parrots

In the afternoon, we visited the home, art studio and feeding stations of a friend of Gilbert – Copé. It was an extraordinary setting, with a small creek flowing just a few feet beyond the feeders.

Copé’s Feeding Station

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Band-tailed barbthroat hummingbird.

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Bronze-tailed plumeteer hummingbird

Bronze-tailedPlumeteerXDSCN2528.jpg

same as above

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Chestnut-headed oropendola

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Great kiskadee

GreenHeronNO DSCN2563.jpg

Green heron

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Green honeycreeper

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same as above

GreenHoneycreeperXDSCN2519.jpg

same as above

MelodiousBlackbirdXDSCN2573.jpg

Melodious blackbird

 

Red-leggedHoneycreeperXDSCN2526.jpg

Red-legged honeycreeper

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Scarlet-rumped tanager

Gray-neckedWood-rail2019,11,04 (133).jpg

Gray-necked wood-rail, by Tom Peterson

Violet-headedHummingbirdXDSCN2537.jpg

Violet-headed hummingbird

White-neckedJacobinsXDSCN2620.jpg

White-necked jacobin hummingbirds

White-neckedJacobinXDSCN2552.jpg

same as above

CollaredAracariXDSCN2508.jpg

Collared aracari

CollaredAracarisXDSCN2609.jpg

same as above

The following photos were taken at Selva Verde.

Selva Verde

Black-cowledOrioleXDSCN2634.jpg

Black-cowled oriole

Black-cowledOrioleXDSCN2741.jpg

same as above

Buff-throatedSaltatorXDSCN2480.jpg

Buff-throated saltator

Buff-throatedSaltatorXDSCN2656.jpg

same as above

Gray-headedChachalacaXDSCN2642.jpg

Gray-headed chachalaca

Olive-backedEuphoniaXDSCN2448.jpg

Olive-backed euphonia

Olive-backedEuphoniaXDSCN2451.jpg

same as above

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Pale-billed woodpecker

SummerTanagerDSCN4232.jpg

Summer tanager

VariableSquirrelXXDSCN2760.jpg

Variable squirrel

RufousMotmot2019,11,04 (02).jpg

Rufous motmot, by Tom Peterson

Yellow-chestedToucanXDSCN2671.jpg

Yellow-chested toucan

Yellow-chestedToucanXDSCN2686.jpg

same as above

Yellow-chestedToucanXDSCN2733.jpg

same as above

This toucan badly wanted a banana, but never worked up the courage to fly to and land on the fruit table while I was watching.

Our destination for the next day was Caño Negro, but we would be accompanied by a new guide (Roger), who was hurriedly recruited from Sarapiqui when Gilbert fell ill that evening.

Costa Rica North 2019_NAMED0830 rev 2 small.jpg

Rich’s photo of the group, at La Paz Waterfall Gardens. Thanks Rich!

CR#1.jpg

Here is the link to Part 2: https://believesteve.org/2019/12/05/birding-in-northern-costa-rica-part-2/

 

Posted in Birding, Costa Rica | 4 Comments

Akumal Diving, 2001 and 2003

Akumal is a resort town on the Riviera Maya, south of Cancun and north of Tulum.  Besides diving the reefs, one can also dive the cenotes: water-filled caves. On our cenote dives, we were never far away from the surface i.e. air!

AkumalAzureVaseSponge19'01T

Azure vase and other sponge

AkumalBandedButterflyfish#24'01T

Banded butterflyfish

AkumalBarJackFingerCoral#32'01

Bar jack and finger coral

AkumalBarrelSponge#7'01 copy

This and below: Barrel sponge

AkumalBarrelSponge#27'01T

AkumalBlackGrouper#5'01

Black grouper

AkumalBlueAngelfish#2'03T.jpg

Blue angelfish

AkumalBlueChromis#26'01T

Blue chromis

AkumalBrownTubeSponge#28'03

Brown tube sponge

AkumalButterHamlet#20'01T

Butter hamlet

AkumalConeyBiColor#32'01T

Bicolor coney

AkumalFairyBasslet#19'01T

Fairy basslet

AkumalFrenchAngelfish

This and two below: French angelfish

AkumalFrenchAngelfish#31'01AkumalFrenchAngelfish#31'01T

AkumalGoatfish#17'01

Goatfish

AkumalGrayAngelfishPair#11'03

Gray angelfish

AkumalGreenMoray#25'01

Moray eel

AkumalGruntsEtc.#12'01T

Grunts and others

AkumalHawksbillTurtle

This and two below: Hawksbill turtle

AkumalHawksbillTurtle#39'01

AkumalHawksbillTurtleTopView

AkumalHogfish&BarrelSponge

This and below: Hogfish

AkumalHogfish#10'03

AkumalHogfishJackBfly#6'01T

Three hogfish, foureyed butterflyfish and bar jack

AkumalLobsterT

Spiny lobster

AkumalMeOnPorch#17'01 copy

At our hotel at Halfmoon Bay

AkumalOr.TubePurpSp#26'01 copy

Orange tube sponge

AkumalPorkfish#24'01

Porkfish

AkumalPotpourri

Medley

AkumalPrincessParrotfishT

Princess parrotfish

AkumalQueenAngelT

Queen angelfish

AkumalQueenTriggerfish#5'01T

Queen triggerfish

AkumalRedBandParrotfish

Redband parrotfish

AkumalRockBeautiesT

Rock beauty

AkumalScrawledFilefishT

Scrawled filefish

AkumalSharpnosePuffer copy

Sharpnose puffer

AkumalSoc.Feath.Dust#23'01

Social feather duster

AkumalSpongeCoralBits#29'01

Barrel sponge and finger coral

AkumalSpotfinBlueAngel#8'03

Spotfin butterflyfish (left) and blue angelfish

AkumalStoplightParrotfishMountainousStarCoral

Stoplight parrotfish and mountainous star coral

AkumalTallBrainCoral#8'01

Tall brain coral

AkumalThreeSpeciesT

Left to right: Bluestriped grunt, black-barred soldierfish and porkfish

AkumalTwoPorkfishV.2T

Porkfish

AkumalWhiteMargates#20'01T

This and below: White margates

AkumalWhiteMargatesElkhornCoral#2'01T

AkumalWhitespottedFilefishOrangePhase

White-spotted filefish

AkumalWrassesEtcT

Blue-headed wrasse

AkumalXmasTreeBrainCoral#34'01T

Brain coral and Christmas tree feather duster

AkumalYellowtail#22'01

Yellowtail snapper

CenoteDosOjos#27'01T

This and below: Cenote Dos Ojos

CenoteDosOjos#30'01T

CenoteTajMahal#10'01

This and three below: Cenote Taj Mahal

CenoteTajMahal#12'01CenoteTajMahal#13'01CenoteTajMahal#28'01T

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Little Cayman Island Diving, 2005

Anemone#7'05

This and below: Anemone

Anemone#9'05

Anemone#26'05

Pink-tipped anemone

AzureVase&RopeSponge#9'05

Azure vase and rope sponges

AzureVaseSponge#10'05

Azure vase and red rope sponges

AzureVaseSpongeEtc-Edit

Azure vase and other sponges

BandedButterflyfish#22'05T

This and below: Banded butterfly fish

BandedButterflyfish#36'05T

Barracuda#29'05T.jpg

This and below: Barracuda

Barracuda#36'05T

BlackcappedBassletTubeSponge#25'05T

Black-capped basslet and tube sponge

BlackDurgon#19'05T

Black durgon

Boat&Ladder#36'05T

Dive boat ladder

BrainCoralsBranchingTubeSponge#15'05T

Brain corals and branching tube sponge

BranchedFingerCoralEtc.#10'05T

Branched finger coral

BranchingTubeSponge#21'05T

This and three below: Branching tube sponge

BranchingTubeSponge#35'05TBranchingTubeSpongeBlackDurgon#5'05TBranchingTubeSponges#33'05T

ChartreuseSponge#18'05Sim.16

Chartreuse sponge

DogSnapperT

Dog snapper

EagleRay#5'05

Eagle ray

FrenchAngelfish#7'05

French angelfish

GardenEels#27'05

Garden eels

GrayAngelfish#4'05TSim.16

This and two below: French angelfish

GrayAngelfish#5'05GrayAngelfishSeaRod.#6'05T

GreaterSoapfish#34'05T

This and below: Greater soapfish

GreaterSoapfishBrainCoralT

HawksbillTurtle#7'05T

Hawksbill turtle

HorseEyeJackKath#33'05T

Horse-eye jack

HotelBeachDiveBoat#25'05T

This and below: Southern Cross Club

HotelBeachDock#26'05T

In front of our cottage

JackCrevalleScrollCoral#15'05

Black jack

KathBarrelSponge#17'05

Kathy and barrel sponge

Lobster#22'05Bz

This and two below: Spiny lobster

Lobster#24'05TLobster#28'05

NassauGrouper#34'05T

This and below: Nassau grouper

LongsnoutButterflyfish#12'05T-Dn&Sim.05

Longsnout butterfly fish

NassauGrouper#34'05T

This and below: Nassau grouper

NassauGrouperSoto#8'05T

OrangeBarrelSponge#20'05V-1

Orange vase sponge

OrangeElephantEarSponge#15'05T

Orange elephant ear and other sponges

PillarCoral#29'05T

This and below: Pillar coral

PillarCoralSeaFan#27'05T

PinkVaseSponge#6'05Bz

Pink vase and orange elephant ear sponges

PinkVaseSponge#8DeNV-1

This and below: Pink vase sponge

PinkVaseSpongeEtc.#9'05T

PortholesBkueTangSoto#15'05T

Blue tang through porthole of wreck

PrincessParrotfishSquirrelfish#32'05T

Princess parrotfish and longspined squirrelfish

QueenAngelfish#6'05T

Queen angelfish

QueenTriggerfish

Queen triggerfish

Schoolmasters#26'05T

This and below: Schoolmasters

Schoolmasters#33T

Scroll_Coral#15'05TSim.16

Scroll coral

SeaRodSmoothStarCoral#12'05T

Sea rod and smooth star coral

SgtMajors#38'05T

Sergeant majors

SouthernCrossClubFromDockT

Southern Cross Club. Our cottage is on the left.

SouthernStingRayBarjackYellowtail#13'05

Bar jack, yellowtail snapper and southern stingray

SpotfinButterflyfish#35'05

Spotfin butterflyfish

StrawberryVaseSpongeMassiveStarlet_Coral#32'05T

Strawberry vase sponge and massive starlet coral

StrawberryVaseSpongeSpongeKath#21'05T

Kathy and strawberry vase sponge

WhitespottedFilefishOrangePhase#36'05Sim.2

White-spotted filefish and foureye butterflyfish

YellowBranchingTube&RedRopeSponge#16'05T

Yellow branching and red rope sponges

YellowBranchingTubeSponge#12'05

Yellow branching sponge

StoplightParrotfishSeaFan#36'05T

Stoplight parrotfish and sea fan

YellowfinGrouper#6'05T

This and below: Yellowfin grouper

YellowfinGrouper#37'05T

YellowtailSnapper#35'05

Yellowtail snapper

Kathy and I did a 10-day dive and fish package at the Southern Cross Club in 2005. Besides the fantastic diving, we caught a few bonefish, baby tarpon in the “Tarpon Lake” and other assorted fish. In my eagerness to set the hook, I pulled my fly out of the mouth of a large tarpon that was a member of a group that hung around the docks in the morning. Better not to traumatize one of the pet tarpon, anyway. Frigate birds hovered over our heads as we played small reef fish. Little Cayman is a very pleasant small island.

 

 

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Travels, 9-26 to 10-6-19

On September 26, I flew Southwest Airlines from Albuquerque to Oakland. This route usually provides views of the Grand Canyon and the Sierras,  but the vagaries of seating in the plane, the clarity of the windows, the time of day  and the presence or absence of clouds determines what kind of photos I get.

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Leaving Albuquerque, view to the north. The Sandia Mountains are seen in upper right. The Rio Grande runs through the center of the photo, and lava flows are seen on the left. View to the NE.

Clouds covered most of the rest of New Mexico and Arizona, including all of the Grand Canyon. But, I did get this view of the gorge of the Little Colorado, which here runs right to left through the center of the photo.

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Gorge of the Little Colorado River, view to the N

And, west of the Grand Canyon, Lake Mead showed up.

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At the head of Lake Mead, where the brown water of the Colorado River is brought to a complete halt against the blue water of the lake.  A distinct boundary is encountered at this point. Due to a continuing drought, the lake has been shrinking, and, thus, the end of current has been advancing downstream. Since 2008, it has advanced about four miles downstream. View to the N.

I spotted the following two sights in western Nevada, which I later ID’ed with Google Earth.

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Silver Peak mine settling ponds

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Mt. Dubois (13,565 feet), in the White Mountains, view to the NE

Then, with mostly clear skies. we crossed into California, flying to the south of Mono Lake, and over Yosemite NP.

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Mono Lake and Yosemite NP, view to the NE

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Yosemite NP, view to the NE

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Yosemite NP, view to the N

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Northern Yosemite NP, view to the N

The plane passed directly over Yosemite Valley,  and then left the High Sierra behind. We then flew over the Tuolomne River

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Cherry Lake and Lake Eleanor are on tributaries of the Tuolomne River, view to the N

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Built to provide drinking water to San Francisco, Hetchhetchy Dam drowns the Grand Canyon of the Tuolomne River. View to the NE.

New Melones Dam floods the Stanislaus River. This is where, in 1973, the river conservationist, Mark Dubois, chained himself to a rock, to protest the dam.

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New Melones Dam floods the Stanislaus River, view to the NE

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The Central Valley

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Oakland Airport

I was picked up by my son, Ethan, after which we drove to Penngrove (in Sonoma County), to the home that he and wife Flo had recently purchased. A beautiful home in the country! Kathy joined me there, driving our van up from Simi Valley, where she had attended her high school 50th reunion.

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Ethan does breakfast

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L to R: Flo’s dog, Miss America, Kathy, me and Ethan

And Ethan had filled the bird feeders.

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Chestnut-backed chickadee

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Chestnut-backed chickadee

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Oak titmouse

While there, Kathy and I visited Point Reyes National Seashore.

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Point Reyes and Tomales Bay, view to the N

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Limantour trail

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Great egret, Limantour trail

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Great egret, Limantour trail

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Tule elk, near Drake’s Beach

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Heermann’s (grey) and other gulls, Drake’s Beach, Point Reyes

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Driftwood teepee, Drakes’s Beach

Next up was Yosemite! Here are some scenes from the Tioga Rd.

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Chipmunk

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A favorite Sierra tree – the Sierra juniper

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A flock of Red crossbills

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Red crossbills. Their “crossed” bills are used for opening up pine cones.

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Mob scene at Olmstedt Point

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Seen from Olmstedt Point, the sweeping granite slabs of Clouds Rest Peak, which is located at the upper end of Yosemite Valley. The Quarter Domes are seen to the right. View to the S.

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Glacier-ground slabs, at Olmstedt Point

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From Olmstedt Point, Half Dome, view to the S

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From further west on the Tioga Rd, a telephoto view of the upper half of Half Dome. Just barely visible are climbers on the Cable route, to the sunlit-side of the shadow line. View to the S.

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Curved overhang, on Pywiack Dome. The brownish areas are glacial polish.

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Tree grows in a pocket, on the slabs of Pywiack Dome

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Pywiack Dome

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Cathedral Peak, view to the E

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Extreme telephoto view of Vogelsang Peak, view to the SE

Hike to May Lake, which is located to the north of the Tioga Rd.

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Mt. Hoffman, from the trail

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May Lake and Mt. Hoffman

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May Lake reflections

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May Lake

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Cathedral Peak and Echo Peaks, view to the E

Cathedral Peak was where, in 1967, Glen Denny and I made the 12 minute movie “Nyala”, of me soloing the regular route. As I recall, it later won a prize at the Trento Film Festival.

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View of the Cathedral Range, from the trail to May Lake

We passed through Yosemite Valley twice in one day. I took this extreme telephoto photo of Reed’s Pinnacle from the road to Wawona, in the AM. Here, a climber in an orange shirt is seen on the Direct Route, with two other climbers at the top of the pitch. The regular route on Reed’s was my last climb in the Valley. I took a fall on the last pitch, breaking my left ankle and cheek bone. I tell that story in another post: wordpress.com/post/believesteve.org/8276

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Reed’s Pinnacle Direct

On our next pass through the Valley, in the PM, a fire had just begun down valley, and smoked things out.

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Cathedral Spires, shrouded by smoke

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Middle Cathedral Rock, with Higher Cathedral Rock behind

In the old days (early 60s) I climbed both spires and the East Buttress of Middle Cathedral Rock.

We left the Park via Tioga Pass, headed home. Our last stop in California was Convict Lake, on the east side of the Sierras.

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Convict Lake, Laurel Mountain and the Sevehah Cliffs

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Wasp nest and aspens

Three photos of reflections in Convict Lake, from the trail along its southern side …

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and two photos of Convict Creek.

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Inlet of Convict Creek

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Shaded falls on Convict Creek

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Camping at Convict Lake

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The King Donald Chronicles, #52

 

Hitler

Der Fuhrer

Trump is making his move. The over-riding concern of the prior 51 posts of this series is now seen to be taking place. Trump is taking power as an absolute ruler. Trump’s lawyers are now asserting that he is above the law – that he can neither be indicted, nor even investigated, for committing a crime. He now does as he pleases, and dares anyone to do anything about it.

When will the Democratic party,  with its majority in the House, come together to move impeachment forward with the urgency it requires? What, in the meantime, will the Republican members of Congress do, in the way of protecting our democracy from Trump? Anything? Are they all on Putin’s payroll?

Will he be successfully impeached in the House ? If so, will the Senate convict him? If so, will he refuse to leave office? If so, will the military forcibly evict him?

This is an emergency. What we naive Americans never supposed could happen in this country is happening – right before our eyes. We are now forced to contemplate what it will be like – life under a dictator. This is a nightmare made real.

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