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The Galveston County Daily News : Outdoors

October 24, 2014

Outdoors

Wednesday 10/22/2014
Sometimes, the matter is just black and white

There's a challenge going around among photographers on social media to post black-and-white images.

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Thursday 10/16/2014
A whiff of the big, wide world

Looking out over the Gulf in the mornings, the cargo ships line up on the horizon. Metallic and bulky, they may not be considered beautiful, but the connectivity they stand for is.

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Friday 10/10/2014
Another sure sign of fall — arrival of the migratory white pelican

The first half of October brings many additions to the population of natural Galveston residents. Some are passing migratory birds. But, others, such as the white pelican, are here until spring.

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Wednesday 10/08/2014
Reflecting on the East End Lagoon

With discussion about development of the East End Lagoon into a nature preserve back in the news, I've been reflecting on what makes this area so special to me.

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Thursday 10/02/2014
Wetland foliage taking on fall colors

Water plants take on different hues this time of year, making for striking backdrops and brilliant flashes of color.

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Monday 09/29/2014
We have allies in the mosquito wars

It's wet out there.

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Evening over the corridor

On impulse the other day, I took the exit off I-45 in Bayou Vista and stopped at the Pavilion overlooking the John M. O'Quinn Estuarial Corridor.

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Wednesday 09/24/2014
Outdoors Blog: Stalking a stalker can be taxing work

A fishing heron can stand still for small eternities, just to move when you have given up on it.

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Monday 09/22/2014
A sunset befitting the beginning of fall

Fall is the perfect season for outdoor photography. Warm, but not as hot as a boiler room, the colors at sunset are less dulled by humidity and static and offer a color palette unequalled.

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Tuesday 09/16/2014
About the light at the end of summer

One morning at the end of summer, just like that, the light changes. It's a gradual process, but it strikes me the most after a cold front has passed and cleaned the air of static and dust, making the light clear and brilliant.

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Tuesday 09/09/2014
On reclaiming the island, and the soul

As much as we appreciate people traveling to Galveston and how local business thrives off visitors, after Labor Day, the locals issue a gigantic, cleansing sigh. The summer vacationers have left. It is island-reclamation time. The beaches at sunrise are deserted, the miles belong to the residents.

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Friday 09/05/2014
Backyard bandits cause mixed emotions

Raccoons split opinions. Some love their cute and cuddly appearance, others see them as potentially hazardous varmints.

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Tuesday 09/02/2014
Waterways and the workingman, a reflection

Especially on Labor Day, it's important to find a moment to appreciate past generations' sacrifices in bringing America forward. Water connects. The Bay ties all of our local industries together. What better place to commemorate the working man's struggles?

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Wednesday 08/27/2014
Neutral density filter helpful in photographing water

Living on this island, any landscape photographer will be including water in many, if not most of their shots. In order to photographically translate what we see with the human eye, a variety of tools are helpful. Some tools, e.g. exposure or aperture options, are part of the technology a SLR camera comes with, but sometimes adding a filter can be helpful. For photographing water, I choose a neutral density filter.

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Friday 08/22/2014
What's the sound of two wings slapping? Bath time

A pelican taking a bath is a noisy affair. Pier 19 in Galveston is a good place to watch the splashing spectacle of the brown pelicans cleaning their feathers.

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Tuesday 08/19/2014
Rattler crashes West End wedding

Diamonds at a wedding? Of course. Diamondbacks? Well that’s another matter.

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June is chick time for the royal tern

The Royal Tern is one of our more common local sea-birds, distinguishable by its bright orange bill and black head-cap. Texas is the most southern area of the tern's breeding grounds. June is when their chicks hatch. In the winter, the tern migrates as far as Argentina in order to find warmth.

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Wednesday 06/04/2014
Sunsets a good tool in photographing birds

A different way to take advantage of sunsets in photography is to use the sun as your strobe-light for silhouette shots.

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Monday 06/02/2014
Reddish egret dances for its dinner

Watching herons and egret fish can be most entertaining. And none is more active when it comes to stalking prey in the shallows than the reddish egret, distinguishable by the rusty colored plumes along the head and neck.

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Friday 05/30/2014
Island's peacocks are on parade, for a little while

With the end of May approaching, chances to watch the wild peacocks of Galveston court on a regular basis are going to dwindle as the birds tend to lie low in summer's heat.

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Wednesday 05/28/2014
Laughing gulls are hatching

CORRECTION: The "black-headed gulls" mentioned and pictured here actuality are laughing gull, colloquially, but incorrectly, referred to as black headed gull, which nest mainly in Europe and Asia and can migrate as far as the U.S. east coast.

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Wednesday 05/14/2014
Trash, discarded tackle a threat to wildlife

A very obvious problem coastal in habitats is trash. Litter is a global problem. And a big percentage of our litter was dumped far out at sea or further along the coast and the current placed it on our beaches. Some of what's disgracing our shores, however, was dropped locally.

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Monday 05/12/2014
Kemp's ridley released for opening of Sea Turtle Restoration Project

It is a triumph whenever a sea-turtle is released from rehabilitation and makes its way back into the ocean.

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Friday 05/09/2014
Sea grass important part of coastal ecosystem

Despite the name, sea grass is actually not grass, but a flowering plant growing in what appear to be meadows.

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Wednesday 05/07/2014
Drought effects appearing in local wetlands

With the continuous lack of rain, the wetlands dry up right in front of our eyes.

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Monday 05/05/2014
Rebirth in the Old City Cemetery

Galveston's Old City Cemetery stretches between Broadway and Avenue L, 40th and 43rd Street.

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Thursday 04/24/2014
It's beach season

The crowds over Easter weekend confirmed my hopes — the ocean was warm enough and the next six months will see my family at the beach often.

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Monday 04/21/2014
Making a splash at sunset

Living in a place where shores are  a few minutes from anywhere, it's still easy to go too many days without paying attention to the wetlands, a sunset, or water all together. Be it the Gulf or the bay, water is a great antidote for the electronic waves flooding our brains, and especially the ones of children.

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Wednesday 04/16/2014
Wildflowers are blooming across Galveston Island

Like drops off a paintbrush, the wildflowers catch the sun in meadows, parks and even downtown.

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Monday 04/14/2014
Oily birds still being spotted in the area

Oil is still sticking to the plumes of herons, dirtying the vests of pelicans and will likely remain bothersome to our local bird colonies for a long time.

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Tuesday 04/08/2014
Things are rockin' at High Island's rookery

The rookery, part of the Audubon bird sanctuaries on High Island, is a hot spot for birders. Pink and white wings flurry back and forth. The air is filled with a cacophony of animalistic sounds. Every year, egrets, herons, ibis, cormorants and roseate spoonbill flock to the trees on top a small island within a lake in order to attract a mate, build a nest and raise chicks.

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Wednesday 04/02/2014
Fog poses challenges for photographer

Fog can make for some of the most atmospheric images. It can give the photographer a blank canvas to paint upon by picking and choosing what objects ought to be depicted. They can and will stand on their own in the expanse of whites and grays. The right approach is a bit of a gamble, but in general, landscapes with static objects are a safer bet in fog-photography than flying birds.

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Monday 03/31/2014
Light play on Galveston Bay calls to mind Frost

When the water of Galveston Bay reflects the sun in a deep gold, I am reminded of Robert Frost's poem:

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Friday 03/28/2014
Diverse habitats help avoid 'bulk risk'

Many species of wading birds, such as egret, ibis and spoonbill, know to never over-fish. They know it instinctively and will leave a lagoon after feeding in it for a certain period of time.

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Wednesday 03/26/2014
Oil spill a secondary infection of same disease

 Observing the bay from the East Beach shoreline — the rocks covered with the sticky black oil, the tidal pools barricaded with floating fences — it is hard to keep faith. Our most favorite playground is contaminated, for birds, fishermen and anyone else. One feels much like a visitor to a carnival on an early morning when the sparkly lights are off and sun exposes the rust on machinery and the shabbiness of it all.

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Monday 03/24/2014
A view from the top of the food chain

With the oil spill in Galveston Bay, I contemplate the scenery we watch on a sunny spring evening, focused on the swaying reeds of the wetlands, the call of the many shorebirds, the silent flapping wings of an egret landing.

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Thursday 03/20/2014
Deconstructing the sunset only enhances sense of wonder

As an artist, I’m wary of deconstructing the end-product of any form of creation. Beauty for beauty’s sake, a sunrise or a sunset is there for us to marvel at, reflect on, rejoice in and simply enjoy.

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Monday 03/17/2014
With alligators, it's all about texture and teeth

From the Everglades in Florida, through the bald cypress swamps of Louisiana and into our Texas wetlands, the Gulf Coast is home to the American alligator.

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Friday 03/14/2014
Despite the crowds, spots of serenity remain

Spring break brought the crowds back to the beaches but the people looking for serenity can always find it at the bayside during sunset.

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Friday 03/07/2014
After weeks of gloom, some sun shines through

After what seemed an endless row of days without sun, its fiery blessings shone across the bay once more today. And after too many evenings of sunset deprivation, the colors were back as well.

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Wednesday 02/26/2014
Black Crowned Night Herons make good photo subjects

The Black Crowned Night Heron is probably the easiest heron to photograph because it sits perfectly still for hours. Its most distinguishing features are bright red eyes and two or three spiky plumes extending from the back of its head.

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Monday 02/24/2014
Birds and their vanity

In the spirit of costumes and masks, I wonder about vanity in nature and birds. We are taught to keep emotions away from researching nature, as it clouds judgment and leads to assumptions.

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Friday 02/21/2014
Herons provide inspiration for carnival costumes

With Mardi Gras starting, we can take a cue from nature about costumes. The plumes of this Great Egret — a.k.a. White Heron — make for stunning, swooshing ball-room trail effects quite useful in courtship to show just how magnificent a bird is to prospective mates.

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Wednesday 02/19/2014
A study of fog and sunshine

Coastal Fog and a hint of sunshine marked the end of the weekend. In one direction, cranes pranced within a canvas of cotton-fluff, in another, the last of the day's sun shimmered through the clouds over West Bay, the light reflected within the clear waters. A meeting of elements along the shoreline.

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Friday 02/14/2014
Osprey takes flight

The magnificent osprey, or sea hawk, is always a treat to watch. In the very first morning light, its wings gain a metallic quality. One of the best places to spot this bird is on the west end of Galveston Island where the raptors like to perch on top of telephone poles with caught fish, the devouring of which can be a messy affair with guts and bones flying in every direction. Osprey can reach a wing-span of over 70 inches and are, after the peregrine falcon, the second most widely distributed raptor in the world.

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Wednesday 02/12/2014
The digital painting of birds

With the sun's continuing absence, I'm trying to come up with different ideas to capture Gulf Coast beauty. Under the cloud's grey cover, movement becomes more important. With long exposure, ordinary scenes can be turned into artistic depictions of the same, where time stands still and shapes flow into each other, questioning the state of affairs any given moment.

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Monday 02/10/2014
Fog brings new perspective to bird-watching

Fog blanketed the island and all was still. Birds flew as ghosts, weightless to the eye, their cawing dimmed. Tree branches and fence posts formed the only contrast in the wintery landscape. The hushed voice of the wind barely reached the ear.

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Friday 02/07/2014
Despite the lingering cold, some signs of spring appear

Despite the lingering cold-fronts, signs of spring are spotted in the island's flora. Nectarine blossoms, budding flowers and a tentative buzz of a bumblebee restore my hopes of a return of warmer weather.

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Wednesday 02/05/2014
Wind and chilly temps send birds looking for shelter

The wind was 15 mph in Galveston and the temperature in the low 40s. It was enough for anyone to hide away. The lagoons were empty of wading birds despite brilliant sunshine.

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Monday 02/03/2014
It's primetime for seeing and photographing comical skimmers

This is the time of year to watch for flocks of skimmers. They assemble in great numbers in the lagoons of Galveston's East Beach and the Bolivar Flats during winter months. The long red bill makes them stand out from other gulls. Also, the bottom part of the bill is longer than the top, a unique feature that helps them scoop fish from the water's surface.

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