Patricia Temples Photography

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Archive for the tag “birds”

My Iceland Adventure, Part 4

The Westfjords or West Fjords is a large peninsula in northwestern Iceland. The Westfjords are very mountainous; the coastline is heavily indented by dozens of fjords surrounded by steep hills. These indentations make roads very circuitous and communications by land difficult. In addition many of the roads are closed by ice and snow for several months of the year. The cliffs at Látrabjarg comprise the longest bird cliff in the northern Atlantic Ocean and are at the westernmost point in Iceland.We arrived at our hotel, Hotel Latrabjarg, after traversing a winding, narrow gravel road into the middle of nowhere.

Drive in van

Across the water we could see a small community, but when we arrived at our hotel, we were the only ones for miles.  It was great.  The hotel was so comfortable, with large rooms, wonderful showers, a dining room that had old wooden tables and chairs and was more like the dining room of a home than a hotel.  We stayed three nights and did a variety of things while we were there. 

The beach was a a short walk below the hotel and that was our first shooting location. We were photographing arctic terns, because when the sun was behind the cliffs, a black background was perfect for the white terns.  But, alas, I am not a great bird photographer, especially when they are in flight.  I found the terns to be difficult because they flew fast, darted around in every direction, and they were generally pretty far away from me.  I preferred photographing the Eurasian Oystercatcher, a larger bird whose flight was slower.  Anyway, here are a few bird photos, since that first day that was what it was all about.

Beach near hotel

The beach near our hotel.

The second day at Hotel Latrabjarg, we drove a few miles to Raudasandsbugur, the Red Sand Beach.  What a special location this was.  As we approached the beach, there was a terrific vantage point from on high, but alas, there was no parking for the vans.  However, later, when we returned, the light had improved and we walked a bit to get higher shots.  Wow. 

Red sand beach 1Red sand beach 4Red Sand beach bestRed sand beach with light

In between the two visits to the beach, we stopped at a church. Churches are plentiful in Iceland because property owners know that if they have a church on their land, their taxes are lower.  Churches are frequently painted black with white trim and red roofs, as this one was, and I found them to be beautiful.  I wonder what they would look like in the snow.  In winter when it is dark for 23 out of 24 hours, and there is snow on the ground, it must be amazing.  Someone told us that the snow is very white because there is no pollution, and that what little light is available is reflected on the white snow and gives the appearance of more light in the sky. I’d love to see that.

We stopped sometime along the way at an old house, built in 1907 and vacant since 1962. We photographed there, and I’ll share those another time. Across the road from that house was an old barn, a spring house, who knows?  It was built into a mound so that part of it was underground, with the side with a door above ground.  Here are some views of that interesting building.  Look at that landscape!

Sunken structure 1Sunken structure 2Sunken structure 3

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My Iceland Adventure, Part I

I had the thrill of a lifetime going to Iceland for a thirteen day adventure.  The major focus of the trip was a Birding and Landscape Photography Tour.  We did so many different things and stayed in such a variety of places that I am having difficulty organizing the trip for this blog.  But, I am going to jump in, posting in several stages.

Today I am going to tell you about our first stop, Myvatn (Me-vah’-tin).  We spent three nights in this beautiful area, exploring along the river Laxa, Lake Myvatn, and at the geothermal areas near Krafla.  The lake is known for its abundance of birds, and thirteen species of ducks nest there.  Many of them are migratory.  The harlequin duck is the duck everyone wanted to see and photograph, and they didn’t disappoint us.  They played on the bank of the river and swam in the bubbles of a small waterfall.
Harlequin ducks

Harlequin Duck

The phalarope is the first bird I photographed in Iceland, and probably the bird I saw the most in every location.  Many other birds were on the river and at Lake Myvatn.

Phalarope

Phalarope

In the photos above, clockwise from top left, are Tufted Ducks, Long-tailed Ducks, a Merganser, a Barrow’s Goldeneye, and a Horned Grebe.

But, of course, I am a landscape photographer, and I had the best opportunities on this trip for beautiful and unusual landscapes.  At the river, snow-capped mountains were the backdrop for beautiful farm buildings.

Lake Myvatn was a small lake that we could walk around in about 1.5 hours at a leisurely pace while stopping to photograph.  Of course, we met sheep along the way.

Lake scene 1Lake scene 2

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Signs of Spring

Spring was a long time coming this year, but once it emerged, everything popped out suddenly, creating beautiful colors everywhere and washing all of us with pollen, and subsequently, allergies.  My photography excursions have been few lately because of the latter, but today I feel re-energized by my contact with nature as everything comes to life.

My husband and I monitor a bluebird trail on a local golf course, and today was our second day out checking what is happening in the boxes.  The bluebirds have been so busy since last week.  There are nests in 14 boxes and a total of 22 eggs.  Last week we had only 2 nests and 5 eggs.  The chickadees are also busy and now have three nests, one of which has 5 eggs.  This was so exciting to us.

But, the added bonus of monitoring a bluebird trail is the opportunity to see other wildlife.  Today we saw a beautiful heron on the golf course near one of the larger ponds. It is smaller than the familiar Great Blue Heron.  I photographed it and identified it as a Green Heron.  It flashes a lot of blue in flight, and no green that I could detect, even in my image, but it is a beautiful bird, no matter the name.  I also photographed a Meadowlark and a Kingbird, as well as a bumblebee on large blue hyacinths.  I am so glad for spring and new life.

Bumblebee on Hyacinth Green Heron Green Heron Meadowlark

Feathered Friends

The forecast called for a few flurries this morning.  It is flurrying really hard out there! I love it.  We have a number of feeders on our property, placed very close to a maple tree not far from the house.  On a snowy day, the variety of birds is exciting, and watching them flit from the feeders to the tree is exhilarating. My goal today was to get an image of cardinals and bluejays together on the tree.  I think I was successful in this endeavor, although I can never get as close as I really want.   Today the female cardinals are the most beautiful I have ever seen them.  They stand out in the snow and have a golden glow.  I liked the fact that I captured a cardinal and a bluejay in flight….a bonus for standing in 29 degrees and waiting patiently for the birds to align themselves just as I wanted.

You may be wondering why all the birds are facing to the right.  The mountains are located in that direction.  Normally they could enjoy the view, but today the mountains are obliterated by the snowfall, uh, flurries.  They are facing to the right because that’s where the feeders are located.

Incoming cardinal

Incoming bluejay Four cardinals and a Sparrow Two Female Cardinals Beautiful Male Bluejays and Cardinal

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