Sunspots

Copyright ©2021 Deborah M. Zajac ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Have you heard about the huge sunspots that are facing Earth now? It’s been some years since there’s been some HUGE ones…big enough to fit Jupiter in them HUGE! I got excited and thought I’d dig out my solar filter and photograph the Sun since I haven’t in a long time.

I made this image September 9th in the morning just a little after the sun crested the mountains.

Sun on September 9, 2021

The biggest sunspot is AR2866, and the other big one one above it is AR2868. There are couple of little ones there too.

The big sunspots can produce big flares or CME’s – Coronal Mass Ejections so the space folks will be watching for those. CME’s can weaken the magnetosphere and they can produce blackouts. Hopefully that doesn’t happen.

It’s been some time since we could see so many sunspots on the Sun and that was at the tail end of Cycle 24 back in 2017. I find it so fascinating and thought I’d share my image with you in case you do too.

Have a lovely week-end everyone!

Fuji X-T3| Fuji 100-400mm @400mm| Orion Solar filter| PS CC 22.5

more to come…

Thursday Doors- Picnic find

Copyright ©2021 Deborah M. Zajac. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

On the way to Baby Girl’s last week we stopped to pick up some lunch from a burger joint and took it across the road to eat in the park for an impromptu picnic. (Sorry, no burger pic this time) I forgot to take a picture!

It’s at the park that I saw this little Free Library and loved the pink doors. Sadly, there were no children’s books in it. I’m going to get some to add to it since it’s likely we’ll be stopping for burgers and fries and eat in this park again.

Little Free Library Hwy 88

Dan Antion’s blog No Facilities hosts Thursday Doors. Click here to get to his blog to see many other doors from all over the world that other door lovers have shared this week.

iPhone 7Plus| PS CC 22.5

more to come…

Friday’s Feathered Friends-Yellow Warbler

Copyright ©2021 Deborah M. Zajac. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Isn’t he cheerful? This was the second time I’ve ever seen this bird. There are more than 50 species of Warblers but few are as brilliant yellow as he is. The females aren’t as bright and lack the rich chestnut streaking, but do have the black eyes, and warm yellow tones.

Yellow Warbler

Fun Facts:

  • In addition to the migratory form of the Yellow Warbler that breeds in North America, several other resident forms can be found in Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean. Males in these populations can have chestnut caps or even chestnut covering the entire head.
  • The nests of the Yellow Warbler are frequently parasitized by the Brown-headed Cowbird. The warbler often builds a new nest directly on top of the parasitized one, sometimes resulting in nests with up to six tiers.
  • Life can be dangerous for a small bird. Yellow Warblers have occasionally been found caught in the strands of an orb weaver spider’s web.
  • The oldest-known Yellow Warbler was a female, and was at least 11 years old when she was recaught and rereleased during banding operations in New York.~allaboutbirds.org

Sunday we drove over the mountains to go visit Baby Girl, The Handsome Surveyor, and the boys. Along the way we stopped at Maiden’s Grave pullout to view the horrible smoke plume from the Caldor Fire burning in the El Dorado National forest.

View from Maiden’s Grave, SR 88, CA.

All through the forest we kept seeing these signs- Every campground, and park is closed. 😭

Forest Closed Sign

The reports on the fire are somewhat better today. They’re allowing some residents to return their homes in South Lake Tahoe, and the cooler temperatures, and less wind in the week-end forecast is promising and should help the firefighters with the fight.

The smoke is still in the unhealthy range here, but the sun is trying to burn through it today so I’m feeling a wee bit more positive today on the fire front.

We haven’t any week-end plans since we’ve been gone a lot these last two weeks visiting our kids and grandkids. What about you any plans? Whatever your plans I hope you have a good week-end!

Fuji X-T3| Fuji 100-400mm| and iPhone 7Plus| PS CC 22.5

more to come…

Whatever Weds. Butterflies

Copyright ©2021 Deborah M. Zajac. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

A friend came up for the week-end and we birded, and admired wildflowers, and hiked. He-Man even joined us on the longest hike which was just over 6 miles, and we climbed 640ft in the Eastern Sierras.

We also had the pleasure of seeing several butterflies. Here are two.

I think this is a Fritillary maybe a Meadow Fritillary? If you know what it is I’d love to know for sure.

Fritillary? Wildflower?

This one I was able to identify as the Western White Butterfly.

Western White Butterfly

This one is a first for me!

The wildflowers in the high country are in full bloom and gorgeous, and I’ve picked up a few new to me birds! I’ll be sharing those in future posts…after I have nailed down their identities. I’m still not quite certain on two of them.

Merlin my bird app isn’t giving me a definitive answer so, I’m still trying to figure them out.

The smoke here seems to get better, then it gets worse. The Tamarack Fire is still burning and when I last checked it was still 0% contained and the winds in the afternoon have been very gusty not helping the fire crews at. all!

I am hopeful that fire crews will be able to get it under control sooner rather than later.

That’s about it from here. I hope your week is going well.

Fuji X-T3| Fuji 100-400mm| PS CC 22.4.2

more to come…

Friday’s Feathered Friends-Pine Grosbeak

Copyright ©2021 Deborah M. Zajac. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Last week I went birding with the Audubon Group and we were treated to a sighting that not only was a new to me bird, but a rare bird to this area too. Lifer number 6 for 2021 is the Pine Grosbeak. This is a female.

This was a “lifer” for about half the group and there were only 9 of us birding that morning. It was quite exciting!

Fun Facts-gleaned from allaboutbirds.org

  • Pine Grosbeaks eat a lot of plants, but it can be tough for their nestlings to eat and digest all that vegetation. Instead of feeding plants directly to their nestlings, they regurgitate a paste of insects and vegetable matter that they store in pouches at the lower part of their jaw on either side of their tongues.
  • Not all Pine Grosbeaks are the same. Not only do they differ in the amount and intensity of red across their range, they are also different sizes. Body size and wing and tail length generally increase from Newfoundland westward to the Yukon Territory. But birds on Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Island) in British Columbia, Canada, and in California are among the smallest of all Pine Grosbeaks. Wings and tails of birds on Haida Gwaii are around a half inch smaller than birds in Alaska.
  • Pine Grosbeaks aren’t just in North America. They also breed in subalpine evergreen forests from eastern Asia to Scandinavia.
  • The tameness and slow-moving behavior of the Pine Grosbeak prompted locals in Newfoundland to affectionately call it a “mope.”
  • Winter flocks may stay near a tree with abundant fruit until all of it is consumed.
  • The oldest recorded Pine Grosbeak was a male, and at least 9 years, 9 months old when he was found in Quebec in 1970. He was first captured and banded in Connecticut in 1961.

I hope you all have a wonderful week-end!

Fuji X-T3| Fuji 100-400mm| PS CC 22.4.2

more to come…

Friday’s Feathered Friends- Lifers 3, 4, & 5 for 2021

Copyright ©2021 Deborah M. Zajac. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

At the end of May He-Man and I went for a hike on a new to us trail called Deadman’s Creek Trail. It’s a nice short trail just a wee bit over a mile up and 280 foot elevation gain with a wonderful payoff at the end. There’s a lovely gazebo at the top of the hill, and the view is gorgeous.

Washoe Lake with Slide Mountain in the background
Washoe Lake Reflecting Slide Mountain

To top this off being a nice hike it was an even better hike because I saw three new to me birds on this trail!!

Number 3 new bird for the year was the Rock Wren. It posed for me nicely. Later it sang for us too.

Rock Wren

On the way down I saw the next two. First was the Female Lazuli Bunting. It’s not a great image as she was out of range of my lens, but it was a good enough look to get her identified. I’ve seen the male before but, not the female so I was excited to have now seen both the male and female of the species.

Lazuli Bunting Female

The last new to me bird was the Black-throated Sparrow. I’ve been back to try to get a better image of it twice, but I haven’t seen it again.

Black-throated Sparrow

All I know of how the trail got its name is back in the 1860’s a man bought a ranch near here and grew produce to sell to the miners in the valley. In 1864 he sold half his ranch to another man who became his business partner, but in 1865 the two ranchers were found shot dead. It was first thought they were murdered, but later they changed the thinking to a murder suicide situation. It’s a story true to the Wild West tales that’s for sure.

On a happier note there were wildflowers in bloom along the trail too. I put together a Contact Sheet with several thumbnail images of the highlights of the hike to share.

Deadman’s Creek Trail, Washoe County, Nevada

We’ve had #1 Grandson with us for 11 days and Big Baby Boy flew up for a short visit too. We’ve been going to the lake to beat the heat and paddle on my SUP board. If you follow me on Instagram you may have seen some of my images and videos of that so I won’t repeat that here.

Big Baby Boy left Tuesday, and Baby Girl, The Handsome Surveyor, and Littlest are arriving this evening for a short overnight stay and take #1 Grandson home tomorrow. The visits went by too fast!! That catches you up on my doings. What’s new with you?

I hope you’re all having a lovely week, and you have a great week-end!

Fuji X-T3| Fuji 100-400mm| iPhone 7Plus| Photoshop CC 22.4.2

more to come…

Friday’s Feathered Friends-Warbling Vireo

Copyright ©2021 Deborah M. Zajac. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Continuing on with the newest “lifers” that I’ve picked up this year I present Lifer N° 2 for 2021…the Warbling Vireo.

I confess I would have missed this bird had I not been out with a local birding group. The leader for that day’s outing recognized its song, and I started peering into the foliage and spotted something flitting around. Hoping for it come out in the open for peek I waited, and waited. Finally a brief look!!

Then just as quickly it flew to another bush behind a branch and began singing its morning song.

These are the only decent images I was able to get of it, but I’m happy to have them!

They have a large range in the United States, but breed here in the Summer months.

Since this little one is singing in the last image I thought I’d try to add a sound file so you can hear one of its songs. Nuts! The link didn’t embed the sound file.

Clicking the link will open a new window with the recording of the Western Warbling Vireo

https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/110999

Fun Facts: Gleaned from allaboutbirds.org

  • Warbling Vireos have a good name—the males sing a fast, up-and-down, rollicking song that suits the word “warbling.” The early twentieth century ornithologist William Dawson described the song this way: “fresh as apples and as sweet as apple blossoms comes that dear, homely song from the willows.” The highly variable song usually ends on a high note, leading the birder Pete Dunne to describe it as sounding “like a happy drunk making a conversational point at a party.”
  • Across their wide range, Warbling Vireos differ from one population to another in several characteristics, including overall size, bill shape, plumage coloring, molt patterns, wintering areas, and vocalizations. The differences are significant enough to lead ornithologists to recognize six separate subspecies of Warbling Vireo, and at one time divided them into two species.
  • Brown-headed Cowbirds frequently deposit their own eggs in the nests of Warbling Vireos. In some instances, the vireo pair incubates the alien egg and raises the young cowbird until it fledges. Female vireos in some eastern populations, however, tend to puncture and eject interlopers’ eggs.
  • Researchers speculate that Warbling Vireo song is at least partially learned rather than hard-wired. They base this supposition in part on observations of one individual whose song more closely resembled that of a Red-eyed Vireo than that of its parents. The garbled song, they concluded, probably resulted from a flawed learning process during the bird’s development.
  • The longest-lived Warbling Vireo on record—a male that was originally banded in July 1966—was at least 13 years, 1 month old when it was recaptured and rereleased during banding operations in California.

I hope you enjoyed seeing these Warbling Vireo images today, and I hope your Friday is going well, and you have a lovely week-end and I wish an early Happy Father’s Day to all the Dad’s in the US!

Fuji X-T3| Fuji 100-400mm| PS CC 22.4.2

more to come…