Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Osprey Nest

On our recent camping trip we were fortunate to see this Osprey nest.

The pictures are not as sharp as I would like, my lens is a 100-300 and not the sharpest.

We went out in the evening to get some shots of the birds on the nest.  I couldn't see any chicks but was glad to watch and photograph the adults.

When we got home I noticed something below the adult on the right, was it a twig, the remains of a meal or?

Yes, I'm sure that is a little Osprey between the adults.

Even though we were quite a ways away, our presence made them nervous and the light was low so we left them in peace.

We returned in the morning when the light was better.  No sign of the little one but a sharper image.  These should enlarge (sometime they refuse) so that you can get a better look at the nestling.

 After a few days of camping we returned home.  Always anxious for more birding opportunities I thought we should check out a nearby pond where Green Herons have nested the last several years.  I've found them hard to photograph, they seem quick to spot me and the first I see of them they've taken to the air.

 This time I had a bit of success, I spotted the Green Heron through the bushes and got a quick shot of his head before he took off.

 Then an even bigger surprise, an osprey!  It did a few circles over the  pond and flew off to the north.  I have never seen an osprey here.  Our ponds are small and shallow and to me, they don't seem like good osprey habitat.  I think it will find better hunting at some of the reservoirs.

There was even good birding in my own backyard.  This little hummer posed for several shots.

 Then I saw the tiniest quail I have ever seen.  They couldn't have been more than a day or two out of the shell.  Mom was calling and I barely had time to get a shot before they scurried under some shrubs.

Check out World Bird Wednesday, hosted by Springman,  for more images of birds

Monday, May 30, 2011

Feats of Clay

"Feats of Clay", strange name, funny logo.

If the little city of Lincoln, California has a claim to fame it is "Gladding McBean".  Never heard of it?  If you are an architect who likes to use decorative Terra Cotta in design or a ceramics artist who wants to enter her  work in competition, then you probably know Gladding McBean and the "Feats of Clay"

Clay pipe for sewers and fresh water is the most obvious product,but the truth is that since the housing bust there has been no market and these pipes have been sitting here for several years.

So what do they make at this large plant?  This stuff at the left.  These broken pieces of decorative terra cotta have been sent here to be replicated for the restoration of the buildings from which they were removed.
Each year in May, Lincoln Arts in cooperation with Gladding Mcbean hosts a tour of the plant and a juried competition for creative ceramics.

The first step in the process is the making of a model.  For new work the architect would send a detailed drawing, for restoration drawings would be made from the old pieces.  The model must be larger than the finished piece because the clay will shrink during drying.

Molds are then made from the models and clay is beaten into the molds.  There can be no air pockets.

The clay spends several hours in the mold, once out of the molds they are finished by hand and then sent to the drying room before being glazed and fired.
There is only one firing, unlike the pottery some might have made as a hobby, there is no bisque firing here.

The kiln room is huge, mostly containing these large beehive kilns used for the clay pipe.  They haven't been in operation for several years though some still hold the fired pipe.  I guess there was no point in removing it if there was no one to buy it.

The decorative terra cotta goes in this smaller kiln, roof tiles and quarry tiles in a similar kiln a bit bigger.

It is an interesting tour with too much information to take in all at once.  Fortunately, Gladding McBean has some informative videos and pictures on their website.

The tour of the plant is only one part of the"Feats of Clay", the other part is the amazing works of art on display.  The competition draws artists from around the world and I'll show you some of it in a latter post.

This is a part of my world, find other views of our wonderful world at That's my World, Tuesday, hosted for us by Klaus, Sandy, Wren and Sylvia.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

New Melones Reservoir

While camping at New Melones Reservoir last week we went down to the lake to watch the sun set.
We saw these turkey vultures looking for a roost for the night.

As the sun slipped behind the hills, the sky lit up with color.

See more skies from around the world at SkyWatch Friday, hosted for us by Klaus, Sandy, Wren and Sylvia.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Hidden California

Hubby and I took a day trip recently.  I wanted to visit some more counties for my other blog.  It turned out not to be a great day for photography, the air had a lot of haze.  It was still a good day to visit some new places.
                             Our first stop was the little town of Colusa on the Sacramento River.  Where's Colusa?

Colusa has the second oldest operating courthouse in the state.  Can you make out the golden bear in the pediment?  That is the symbol of California and is on our flag.  It dates from the brief period when we declared our independence from Mexico, before we joined the United States.   California was the "Bear Flag Republic".

What is the oldest operating courthouse?  Mariposa, I guess I should check out their courthouse.

There was a lot going on, a quilt show and a civil war reenactment.  It looked like the whole community had turned out.

There was even a carriage drawn by a handsome pair of draft horses. We didn't stay for the reenactment, we had other places we wanted to see.

 We headed off into the coast range, a land of rolling hills, cattle and few people.  I felt like I had stepped back in time to a California that once was.

We stumbled upon the tiny hamlet of Lagoda, the sign said "population 15".  I just loved these whimsical sculptures, they seemed to be made of cast concrete.  Several houses had them.

The area wasn't completely unknown, there were several groups camped along the East Park Reservoir and some fishermen out on the lake.
My pictures weren't what I was hoping for, few were of the quality I like for "Around California" but it was a great day just the same.  The more I poke into the remote corners of California the more I enjoy it.

See more of our wonderful world at That's My World, Tuesday, hosted for us each week by Klaus, Sandy, Wren and Sylvia.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Mike O'Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge

There has been so much talk about the new bridge at Hoover dam that we decided to check it out.

• The highest and longest arched concrete bridge in the Western Hemisphere.

• The second-highest bridge of any kind in the United States and 14th in the world.

• The world's tallest concrete columns of their kind.

I knew who Pat Tillman was, a former football player for the Arizona Cardinals killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan.  I had to Google to find out who O'Callaghan was; a Korean War veteran and two term governor of Nevada.
Thus it is named for people from each of the two states hosting the bridge.

The bridge was built after the tragedy of
9-11.  Since highway 93 crossed over the dam it was feared terrorists might try to blow it up, so prior to the completion of the bridge in October 2010 commercial traffic had to make a 75 mile detour and private vehicles had to pass a security checkpoint.  Now this bottleneck to traffic on highway 93 has been eliminated.
The checkpoint is still there, private vehicles can cross the bridge to park and visit the dam.  There was a long line at the checkpoint when we were there.

You can find more bridges at Sunday Bridges, hosted by Louis at San Francisco Bay Daily Photo.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Reflections at Hoover Dam

The copper tinted windows in the buildings at Hoover Dam had some great reflections.

Here I caught a reflection of part of the new bridge an a worker hanging from some ropes.

No, actually it is a monument to those who built the dam that is reflected.
In the background you can see the new bridge and all the people on it.  Unfortunately, the parking lot allowing access to walk the bridge is small and there was no parking space for us there. 

Check out more reflections at Weekend Reflections, hosted for us by James.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

After a Storm

We have been having unusually stormy weather lately, but the clouds cleared enough for a walk and some pictures before the rain returned.
The flower is Dichelostemma multiflorum, called "wild hyacinth" though other plants go by this name elsewhere.

See more sky views at SkyWatch Friday, hosted for us by Klaus, Sandy, Wren and Sylvia.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Horseshoe Bend

Horseshoe bend, out side of Page Arizona is my watery shot this week.  I suppose that I could have gotten a better shot had I crawled on my belly out to the edge.  It was undercut, though, and the sign said to beware.
It is a great view, even for a coward like me.
Thanks to 2sweetnsaxy for hosting Watery Wednesday.  Check it out for more water views.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Petrified Forest

Petrified Forest was the last park on our recent tour of the Southwest.
We've been here before but always when the Summer sun had washed out the colors and much of the beauty lies in the color of the rock.
On past trips the heat had kept me from exploring down into the badlands.  I was pleased that the weather cooperated and I was able to see these beautiful formations of Chinle Shale up close.

Of course, people do not come to this park just for the badlands, they come for the petrified wood.
Agate Bridge is an example of how the Park Service has changed its ways.
It was thought that this log would soon collapse so a support was made under it.  Today they would have allowed nature to take its course and the bridge would have been allowed to break and fall into the ravine.

 Painted Desert Inn is a relic of a bygone era.  It was built by the CCC on the site of the earlier Stone Tree House.  It no longer serves meals or provides lodging but is a museum and a tribute to the craftsmanship of an earlier era.
This is what people most want to see, the amazing colors of the petrified wood.
Once freely harvested by rock hounds, the petrified wood in the park is now protected.  They ask you when you enter if you have purchased any outside the park and on leaving if you have collected.  It is all on the honor system, though.  There are plenty of rock shops outside the park so it isn't necessary to steal our heritage.
 I like this one, you can see the petrified remains of the roots.  No doubt that this was once a living tree but that was 225 million years ago.  To find out more about how these trees came to be turned to stone, click here.
You can see more views of this wonderful world of ours at That's My World Tuesday, hosted for us each week by Klaus, Sandy, Wren and Sylvia.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Glen Canyon Dam Bridge

When it was completed in 1959 the bridge cut 192 miles off the trip from one side of the canyon to the other.  More important, and the reason it was built, it provided access for the workers of Glen Canyon Dam to the other side of the canyon.
Unlike Hoover Dam, the road never crossed over the dam.  We also stopped to see the new bridge that bypasses Hoover Dam, I'll show you that next week.

I'm linking this to Sunday Bridges.  Thanks to Louis at San Francisco Daily Photo for hosting this meme.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Dreamcatcher Shadow

  We saw this dreamcatcher at a footpath leading in to Zion National Park.  It had little locks attached.  I don't know the purpose of the locks but I suspect that people would purchase them and place it with the hope a wish would be granted, just my speculation.

Dreamcatchers originated with Ojibwa, a Native American people.  They have been adopted by other tribes as a symbol of unity.  I think it makes an interesting shadow.

You can find other interesting shadows at Shadow Shot Sunday, hosted by Tracy at Hey Harriet.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Canyon de Chelly

Except for a hike to one ruin, visitors can only tour the canyon with a Navajo guide.  You can, however, view it from the rim.  The rim drive has many view points that give great canyon views.
Nature favored us with some beautiful skies when we arrived so I feel justified in linking this post to SkyWatch.

From the rim you can look across the canyon and see many ruins left by the Anasazi now referred to by the politically correct term of Ancestral Pueblo peoples.  Whatever you choose to call them it is amazing that they could live on those cliffs.  Some Navajo will say that when these ancient people lived here the canyon floor was higher and it wasn't such an achievement.

 Theses tall spires are called "Spider Rock".  In the Navajo belief system it is believed that Spider Woman made her home here.  Spider Woman was said to have taught the Navajo how to weave.
One version of the myth can be found here.

The following day we hired a Navajo guide and went into the canyon itself.  The river meanders back and forth across the canyon and so does the road, such as it is.  Our guide knew just where to cross in her 4x4, often driving in the river for long stretches.

Down in the canyon we got a much better look at the ruins.
We also saw a great many petroglyphs.  Our guide was very informative and tried to answer our questions.  There was, however, a decidedly ethnocentric slant to her commentary.  She wasn't an anthropologist.
  Canyon De Chelly is a hybrid park, a National Monument but on Navajo land.  The park service has rights to the site which will soon expire and there is talk of turning it over to the Navajo Nation.  Our guide wasn't sure it would get the protection it deserved if that were to happen.

See more wonderful views of the sky at SkyWatch, Friday; hosted for us by Klaus, Sandy, Wren and Sylvia.