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Bugman Jack is back

My good friend Jack is staying at Rainbow’s End in Livingston, TX, for a week, so today he drove down to give me a visit.  As some of you may know, Rainbow’s End is the home of the Escapee’s RV Club and where many full-timers call home.  On this visit, he brought his long-time best friend, Carol, with him.  They go back 35 years as CLOSE friends.  I know Jack is a veteran, but I can’t remember with what service.  If I had to guess, I’d say the Navy, with a girl in every port
Anyway, when they both arrived this morning, one of the first things Jack asked me about was my windshield wipers.  One went haywire again as I was driving down here, and the other one fell off as I tried to put on my wiper sun shields the other day.  He figured out that they were installed incorrectly, and after a bit thinks he got them on the right way.  We’ll see.  Rain is forecast for Wednesday, so you can be sure I’ll be checking them out.  I sure hope he is right!
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The first item on our agenda, after the wiper blades, was to drive down and over to the Bolivar Peninsula to have lunch at Stingaree’s Restaurant.  Directly out the windows behind us is the Intracoastal Waterway that makes its way through Galveston Bay.
75 Anahuac NWR 2013-2014
Jack ordered the seafood platter that included gumbo, crabs, grilled shrimp, red beans and rice, and a catfish fillet.  Carol had a trio of fried shrimp and whole crabs done two different ways.  There were at least six crabs on her plate besides the shrimp with a side of green beans.  I simply went with the fried shrimp with onion rings.  I’m a very slow eater, and I would have been there for hours if I’d ordered those crab dishes.
After that delicious meal, we drove back to the refuge to enjoy a drive down most of the roads.  First up was the Shoveler Pond auto route.
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The first bit of wildlife we encountered was this little crab that was slowly making its way across the pavement from the brackish waters to the fresh waters of Shoveler Pond.  It was only about three inches from side to side, so I had to get on down on the pavement for this shot.  I shoed it along on its journey so it wouldn’t get run over.
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Jack brought his new toy along with him which is a new lens for his camera.  We put it on my camera to take this shot of a gator on the pond.
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Pulling it out to the full 400 mm length resulted in this much closer pic of the alligator sunning on the berm.  That was the end of my use of the lens, as the rest of the ride gave Jack the best view out his window, so the following pics were taken by Jack with my camera and his lens.
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            I think we all had a fun time bantering back and forth as we made our way around the refuge.
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                                                                   Fulvous Whistling Duck
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I couldn’t believe the number of roseate spoonbills we saw today on easily accessible roads.  They just seemed to be everywhere.  If someone wanted to see spoonbills, this was certainly the day to be here and do it.
It was great seeing Jack again, and meeting Carol.  After our tour, they had to head back to Livingston.  Tomorrow I’ll be working at the hunter’s check station.  I hope everyone remembers to “Fall Back” tonight…
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                                                                                THE END!!
Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy
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POV: Analog Efex Pro


I'm perennially looking for short cuts when I post process my photographs. I use minimal processing whether using Photo shop or Lightroom (with the exception of sharpening, and adjusting levels and curves, I rarely use the other tools), and sitting at a computer fiddling for hours on end for the optimal look is really not my kind of thing...I just don't enjoy it.

Coming up with my own presets is above my intellectual pay grade, so I am always thrilled to find software that provide "one-click" solutions.

I'm particularly fond of Alien Skin Software and of the Nik Collection, and use them whenever necessary. These alternatives often preclude me from having to use Photoshop, and I'm delighted.

The Nik Collection from Google has received a new free update which is named Analog Efex Pro – a series of filters that replicate the look of classic cameras, wet plate cameras, toy and vintage...all 'funky' presets that alter the character of ones' photographs at the click of a button.

For the portrait of the young Balinese student dancers, I chose a colored wet plate look which replicates the look of ancient color photographs of the Italian photographer Felice Beato (1832-1909).
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Getting back in the groove

We had well over 3” of rain yesterday, and Emma and I were trapped in the rig for the day.  The sun was shining this morning, so I was itching to get out on the refuge.  In order to do that, I had to find myself a refuge vehicle to drive.  So, I found a Chevy truck that the interns had used this summer.  Like many interns, they had pretty much trashed it, but it didn’t take me too long to clean out all their garbage that they left, and I was soon on the road.

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                                               Pied-billed grebe… can you dig those lobed toes?

Since I haven’t been here in two years, I decided the first order of business was to reacquaint myself with any changes that had gone on since my last stint here.  The auto tour route around Shoveler Pond has been paved, but the new Visitor’s Information Station (VIS) still hasn’t been completed.  It’s been five years since hurricane Ike wiped out the old one, but there have been lots of problems and delays with getting the new one built.  It may even open this December.

IMG_4682Neotropic cormorant. IMG_4685

After taking care of some paper work with Stephanie, I headed out around the pond to see what I could find.  One of the reasons Stephanie is happy to have me here is that she says I’m low maintenance.  I saved her quite a bit of time today by finding my own vehicle, and getting it checked out.  One of her coworkers left Fish and Wildlife for a different job, so due to the sequestration business, she now has to do both jobs.  If I can take a little stress off of her, I’m happy to do that.

IMG_4730 IMG_4731Roseate spoonbill.

One of my treats on my trip around Shoveler Pond was to see this roseate spoonbill.  I just love their specialized bill for straining little shrimp and the like out of the marsh waters.

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I was a little surprised to find this juvenile yellow-crowned night heron willing to pose for me.  I’ve seen lots of black-crowned night herons at Anahuac, but this is the first yellow-crowned I’ve seen in my six different assignments here.  Very nice.  I’ll be starting my official bird surveys in about two weeks, so I need to get out and about to sharpen up my skills.  I know some of you readers have been in bird picture withdrawal, so that’s another reason I was out clicking away today.  Winking smile

The only problem I had today was that the seat on this truck has kind of sunk down, and can’t be raised up.  It’s no secret that volunteers are generally assigned those vehicles that can perhaps be best described as senior vehicle fleet members… aka: close to being worn out.  With a sagging seat, I’m the proverbial little old granny Q-tip behind the wheel staring through the middle of the steering wheel.  Can you picture that?  Well I’ve come up with a solution.  When I got home, I dug out one of those square Personal Floatation Devices that people sit on in canoes.  I usually use it at picnic tables so I don’t feel like a little kid sitting there.  Between the 2” boost up, and lowering the steering wheel, I feel like I own this new ride!  Open-mouthed smile

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Can’t leave you tonight without a pic of this so typical resident of Anahuac NWR.  I guess I’m back to the land of alligators, fire ants, and Blue Bell Ice Cream!

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

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Video: Timelapse Over Norway's Pulpit Rock

Pulpit Rock in Norway is a 604 meter (1982 ft) cliff that overlooks Lysefjord fjord. It is a popular landmark that draws hikers from all over to take in its sweeping views. Today, you can visit the rock through this beautiful timelapse video, which is likely to inspire you to want to go and see it for yourself. It seems like a fitting way to end the week.

The Pulpit Rock - Norway from Kjetil kaasa on Vimeo.
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Adventure Tech: New Tools For Would-Be Adventure Filmmakers

With the advent of tiny POV cameras over the past few years, adventure filmmaking has gone from an expensive, time consuming proposition to something that anyone with a laptop and a good camera can do. This week, aspiring filmmakers got a couple of new options to help in this process in the form of a new camera and an improved drone for capturing arial footage like never before.

First up, iON Air Pro 2 WiFi Camera One Color, One Size, which brings an assortment of upgrades and improvements to the device. The new device has an improved 12 megapixel sensor that increases performance in lowlight conditions while continuing to shoot in full 1080p resolutions at 60 fps. Its ruggedized body is waterproof down to 49 feet (15 meters) and includes built-in image stabilization to help minimize shaking when worn on a helmet or mounted on the handlebars of a bike. It has a battery life of about 2.5 hours, which is a solid amount of time for a camera this small and an array of new mounting options are available to make this camera as versatile as possible. 

Additionally, the Air Pro 2's WiFi functionality makes it easier than ever to share videos online. The system even comes with 8GB of free cloud storage and can be paired with an app on an iOS or Android device for remote operation. 

The camera carries a price tag of $349.99 and begins shipping November 15.

Adventure filmmakers who want to add a new dimension to their next project will love the new offering from DJI, makers of the Phantom remote controlled drone systems. They've introduced the Phantom 2 Vision, which is unique in that it comes equipped with a camera right out of the box. Unlike previous models from DJI, the Vision has a built-in 14 megapixel camera that comes mounted on a tilting gimbal that can rotate 60º and has a wide 140º viewing area. A shock-aborbing bracket, built specifically for this camera, helps to reduce shaking and jitters that were an issue when  mountain your own camera on previous Phantom drones. The camera can also be paired with an iOS or Android device, allowing it to become a remote screen for the device, which the pilot can then use on the ground to see exactly what footage is being captured. 

DJI also improved the drone itself, giving it a greater battery life. It can now stay aloft for 25 minutes at a time. The drone also has improved stabilization for easier flight, even for beginners, although it all comes at a hefty cost. The Phantom 2 Vision will set you back $1199 when it goes on sale in a few weeks. The original Phantom, sans camera, is still available for just $479. 

Check out the Vision in action in the video below. Is it wrong that I kind of want one of these things?


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