Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Leaves of Autumn 2012

If there ever was a magical day for autumn leaves it was here at the Museum on November 12, 2012.  As I walked along our Outdoor Trail under a colorful canopy of leaves, I could not help but think this was a truly awesome experience:
I found interpreter Larry Lewis also on the Trail that day--he had collected a huge sycamore leaf off the boardwalk and it became an "interpretive magnet," attracting children and adults alike who were so curious as to what kind of leaf it was.  Many thanks for sharing your enchanting leaf, Larry!:
Here's a shot of a smaller sycamore leaf backlit by the morning sun:
Throughout the week of November 12th I captured a range of brilliant colors like the bright yellows of this buckeye plant:
And these "golden" silver maple leaves:
The reds were glorious, too, but none so deep as this leaf from a red twig dogwood:
My favorite orange color is represented by this witch hazel leaf--it's almost "pumpkin" colored!
Even the brown colors were vibrant, like these white oak leaves backlit in the late afternoon sunlight:
Beech tree leaves will run the gamut from yellow, to soft orange, a pale brown, and finally a wispy tan.  The leaves will mostly stay on the tree branches and only fall off in the early spring right before the new verdant green leaves are about ready to emerge:
A few of my favorite animals were padding through a carpet of multicolored leaves--the bobcat, and a red wolf:
This yellow-crowned night heron in our Outdoor Aviary looks out into the soft sunlight of mid-afternoon, with a kaleidescope of autumn colors in the background:
And last but not least, a wild cormorant suns itself on the pond, with the colorful leaves reflected in the water:
I hope you enjoyed these lovely colors of autumn....I can only hope that next year I'll have another magical day to share more leaves with you!  More off the beaten path in two weeks....

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Heads Up!

In the modeling and acting world, a "headshot" is a photo portrait of a person's face and is considered an integral part of an aspiring model's or actor's portfolio.  Over the last few months I've been able to take "headshots" of several animals at the Museum.  Okay, maybe they aren't going to audition for the lead role in a Broadway play, but, they still have important roles to play!  They're perfect ambassadors for environmental awareness and every day they fulfill a vital educational role in helping to connect people to nature.  Many of the animals you'll see below are a part of our "Adopt a Wild Thing" Program.  Here's a few of my favorites....First a "headshot" of our male otter, a very playful creature who delights visitors with his graceful swimming:
Another favorite among guests is our lovely bobcat.  When I took this photo, the bobcat was flicking her ears--notice the "eyespot" on the back of her right ear?:
If anything could win a "cuteness" award, it'd have to be our chipmunks in our Piedmont & Mountain Gallery:
I love the soulful expression in our coyote's face:
I have to admit that I tried many, many times to get a good "headshot" of one of our does--they're constantly moving:  licking their lips, twitching their ears, etc.  When this doe finally stopped moving, I was able to capture her curious expression:
The raccoon below, made it pretty easy for me to take its picture--it was lounging in the tree branches, getting ready for a nap:
Not everything at the Museum is soft and furry--we have plenty of other critters that are scaly!  The alligator below is being held by my colleague, Dan Summers, Curator of School Education.  Thanks, Dan!:
Another scaly face--our rattlesnake in our Mountain Cove Habitarium.  It took about 50 shots, but I was finally able to get one with the snake sticking its tongue out:
Another favorite, especially with children, is our elegant loggerhead sea turtle in our large Chesapeake Bay Aquarium tank:
In the realm of aquatic wonders, this lionfish tantalizes guests with its wispy fins and bold stripes.  The spines on their fins can inject venom.  We have this animal on exhibit to help people understand the problems associated with invasive species--lionfish are native to the Pacific, but either through accident or neglect, these fish were released into the Atlantic.  Without predators to keep them in check, lionfish have steadily spread from Florida to New York along the eastern seaboard:
Last one--technically not an "adoptable" Museum critter, but I had to share its wonderful, whimsical face.  A favorite among children are the spiky-skinned fish that can inflate--pufferfish, porcupine fish, and here, the webbed burrfish:
Hope you enjoyed these "headshots!"  More off the beaten path in two weeks.