Saturday, July 31, 2010

Camera-Critters #121: Greater Crested Tern

As I described in my Skywatch Friday blog, the main purpose for visiting Daxi Harbor was to photograph the water birds.  There were the usual egrets hanging about the fishing boats.

But the most amazing sights is the Greater Crested Tern (鳳頭燕鷗), Sterna bergii.  They are very similar to the Common Tern that I have seen on Cape Cod.  There were 20s or 30s of them hovering over the harbor diving down to pick up the fish that were throw down from the fishing boat.

The tern nest on the islands around Taiwan and migrate to Taiwan during the summer month then move down to islands of Southeast Asia as far south as Australia during the winter months.

To see more Camera-Critters from around the world click here.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Skywatch Friday: Daxi (大溪)

After my stop at Keelung harbor to photograph the Black-crowned Night Heron and Black Kite, I continued my trip on Expressway 62 toward east and arrived at Northeast Coast National Scenic Area.  My first stop was FuLong Railroad Station.  FuLong has a very nice sandy beach, because of the easy railroad access, it has been a popular beach going place for a long time.  I remember taking a train ride to Fulong with my parents for the beach when I was very little.  The reason for my stop over was to buy a Bento for lunch.  Fulong is a major stop for the East Coast Railroad.  The train leaving Taipei often arrives at the station around meal hour.  Many vendors sell Railroad Bento on the train side directly to the passengers.  Through the years, The Rail Bento of Fulong has gotten very famous.  I arrived at 11:30 and there was a long line waiting outside of the famous Bento stores already.  One Bento only costs NT$55 (about US$1.5).  Tourists before me were buying 10s of Bento.  I felt I was such a looser to only buy one, I braved myself and bought two!!

After lunch, I drove to my next destination, Daxi Harbor.  The above image is Turtle Island, as you can see from its shape.  It is a volcanic island and the only active volcano in Taiwan.  It used to be a military restricted area and now allows limited access to tourists.  The surrounding area is rich fishing ground and Daxi Harbor is right opposite to Turtle Island.

The harbor is really quite small but a very active fishing port, and now is quite a tourist attraction.  The first part of the road leading to the port is lined with vendors selling all kinds of cooked or fried seafood, such squid and crabs.

The area around the harbor then is an active fish market.  The fishing vessels arrive in the early afternoon to unload their catch of the day.  The Coast Guard inspects the cargo and the vessel first, then the fish is loaded onto the land.

The fish and crabs are sorted right away, the bad ones are thrown away into the harbor and the good ones displayed for the buyers.

The fish is not giant Tuna or Swordfish alike.  The coast is very rugged, they are small rift fish, smaller and very colorful.  Very suitable for Chinese cooking!

There are also plenty of shrimp, squid, octopus and different shell fish.  The little octopus on the left should be quite good for some Italian pasta.

I bet you have not seen the red crab on the left before.  They are quite tasty actually.  The other crabs which had been turned upside down were to show that they were she crabs.

Well, my main purpose to visit the harbor was not the fish but the water birds that hovering around the harbor to pick the left over fish and crabs in the water.  Check them out on my Camera-Critters blog this Saturday.

To see more Sky from around the world click here.

Monday, July 26, 2010

ABC Wednesday: B is for Black

It was pouring rain last Saturday, Grace left on Friday to Hong Kong to visit her parents, I was stuck at home totally bored.  I took out a bird photography book of Taiwan and carefully planned a trip to visit four sites, very ambitious if only it would not rain on Sunday.

I woke up early on Sunday morning and was out by 7 AM.  The first place that I visited was the experimental farm of National Taiwan University.  It used to be a military base before transferred to the Agricultural Department of the University, it covers 30 acres.  On the express way, it is only 20 minutes from home.  It is an oasis at the edge of Taipei City limit.

Well, here is a Black duck!

If you cannot see it is really Black, here is a closeup.

The major attraction in the farm in the summer, is the lotus pond.

The school also planted a lot butterfly attracting plants.  Here is one very similar to the American Monarch butterfly.  You can see more detail of this butterfly at our previous post here.

This one is very common in Taiwan, migrating back and force on the island according to the season.  You can see more pictures of this kind of butterfly at our previous post here.  Now, because climate change, the northern part of Taiwan is as hot as the southern part of Taiwan.  I wonder why they bother.  I hope you do see the Black on these two butterflies.

I finished the Experimental Farm before 9 AM and headed to the northern port city of Keelung.  It is a small deep water port and an important harbor throughout Taiwan's history.  Part of the Japanese attack naval force to Pearl Harbor during the WWII, came out from Keelung.  The old Chinese name of Keelung means "Chicken Cage".  It now has been changed to a more presentable name, although it still sounds the same.

The book said, the harbor is a good practicing ground for the beginning bird photographer.  I was really surprise to see what it says was true.  Here is a Black-crowned Night Heron (夜鷺), Nycticorax nycticorax.

I have posted images of it in my previous post here.  But they were taken in the city park, where they are very tame.

But at Keelung Harbor, I was at their natural hunting ground.

I could see them in live-action, skimming the water surface hunting for their pray.

Landing elegantly on the surface of the water!

Then off it went with the pray in its beak, all happened in a split of second.

The other excitement was to watch the Black Kite (黑鳶), Milvus migrans in action.

It circulated high above the harbor then dived down to catch its pray in the water, a sight to be seen.

I finished photographing the heron and the kite by 10:30 AM and was ready to take the Expressway 62, head east for my next destination.  See you at Skywatch Friday!!

To see more entries of ABC Wednesday click here.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

ABC Wednesday: Z is for Zig-Zag Through Paris

I (Grace) flew to Paris in late April, right after the Iceland volcano ashes subsided.  I had a free Saturday, so off I went with my camera around Paris.  I started at Place des Vosges located at the Marais district between the 3rd and 4th arrondissements.  It is the oldest planned square.  The sound of the cello filled the Square.

All the housefronts were built to the same design of red brick with strips of stone quoins over vaulted arcades that stand on square pillars.

Two pavilions in the north and the south, that rise higher than the unified roofline of the square center offer access to the square through triple arches.

The wall of the arch way from the square to the street is painted.  The black and white version of this photograph evokes a certain sense of nostalgia.  

Here I was, in front of the colorful art gallery with my reflection on the window.  

It is another view of the store front with the arcade.  

After I left Place des Vosges, I walked along Rue des Francs Bourgeois where I saw a pretty woman sitting by the window with sun shining onto her blond hair.  

I noticed this little girl with a red dress running along by her father's side.

Then along rue Veille du Temple, I saw two young women wearing bright colored wigs and big sunglasses, kind of retro look. 

Further along, I saw a guy with wings giving away some kind of brochures, kind of unreal?  He was right in front of a Corsican restaurant.  It was time for lunch!

The interior of the restaurant is rather rustic, and the food was very authetic.

This the other side of the wall.

After the lunch, I went across the bridge to Ile Saint-Louis in the 5th arrondissement.  It a small island next to the more famous Ile de la Cite where Notre Dame and Sainte Chapelle were built on.  Many storefronts are charming!

On this tiny island lies a magnificent catholic church, St. Louis-en-l'ile.  It was built in 1622.  From the exterior, you can't tell how immense and impressive it is. 

Finally, I ended up at Place de l'Opera.  The afternoon sun was shining onto the statues on top of the Opera House which made the building even more glorious!

At last, time for dinner, I went into a highly decorative restaurant to have my favorite Parisien seafood plate.  What a nice zig-zag through Paris!

To see more entries of ABC Wednesday click here.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Today's Flower #101: Floral Clock of Yangmingshan

Yangmingshan is a national park in the city limit of Taipei.  It is a dormant volcano, with hot spring and very beautiful mountain scenery, click here for the image of the mountain and a trip we took two years ago.  For last week's ABC Wednesday, a blogging friend post a picture of the floral clock at Yangmingshan taken in 1971.  You can click here to see her picture.  Thus I dig out a picture of the same floral clock that we took last year.  You can also click here to see pictures of that trip, a trip to celebrate our 35th Wedding Anniversary.

To see more flowers from around the world click here.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Camera-Critters #118

A Lizard

A Caterpillar

An Unlikely Companion with Each Other.

To see more Camera-Critters from around the world click here.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

ABC Wednesday: Y is for Yellow Fall Color

The fall color in the Northeast is dominate by the red color of the red maple trees.  When we traveled in the Sierra Mountain last fall, we discovered that its fall color is dominated by the yellow leaves of aspen trees.  Here are several images that we took at Lee Vining Canyon.

When we drove through the Tioga Road from Yosemite National Park to Eastern Sierra, the road took us to Lee Vining on the shore of Mono Lake.  Under the setting sun, we could look down from the mountain into the Lee Vining Canyon that was dotted with aspen trees in its most brilliant fall Yellow color.

Later on during a brillient fall afternoon, we have the opportunity to follow the small river into the Canyon and had a closer view of the Aspen forest.

Inside the forest, I got a perfect shot of the sun star through the Yellow aspen trees.

This is one of our favorite, a small brook winding its way through the aspen forest.

Multicolor leaves in rapid flowing stream make such a beautiful image!

To see more entries of ABC Wednesday click here.


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