Barred Owls in the Backyard

Something looks good down there. Must focus...

Must also stay awake...

Some nice Barred Owl action right out the kitchen window. I could not believe how close this guy let me get. There are a couple of voles in the back yard that he seemed quite focussed on. Not sure if he ever got them. I feel asleep too.

Lock & Dam 14 – Le Claire – Part II

Fishing isn’t just for adults, the juvies got into the action too. Here are a couple.

Long lenses compress distance and can create images that don’t seem to make sense otherwise. Either that is a BIG gull or a very small adult eagle.

I love the stare. Such concentration.

Final shot is a very ruffled baldie looking down at all of the crazy photographers taking his picture. I wonder what is going though his head.

Lock & Dam 14 – Le Claire – Part I

It has been way to long since I posted anything on the blog. The Eagles tend to inspire posting.

The Eagles and Lock & Dam 14 (which have been on my photography bucket list for some time) proved to be just that.

It took two trips to Le Claire to accomplish the mission but despite the 6 hour drive it was worth it.

Over the last couple of years, I have had a number of opportunities to date to photograph this marvelous creature. Last summer I caught a shot or two on the lake in my back yard. We have a nesting pair in town (Lake Elmo) that have been very considerate and have posed several times. And I’ve made numerous trips to Red Wing’s Colville Park and the environs around Wabasha, both eagle rich areas.

So what is different. I had to check it out, so we made the trek.

From the look of things, others were interested too. There must be something special to attract folks from Chicago, Ohio and Missouri (and from what I understand, this is a small crowd).

Here is a shot of part of the dam structure. Peak time is when the river is frozen over except at the base of the dam. This means that the eagles have limited space for fishing and tend to concentrate.

The second thing that makes this spot ideal is that the base of the lock is close by. Sometimes they fly so close that they overfill the frame.

He has spotted his prey and is on course for dinner.

Take-out grasped firmly in his talons, he is off to find a comfortable spot to eat.

I am not sure that this qualifies as a white linen restaurant, but the fish is certainly fresh.

Paris – Day 8 Sacre Coeur, Montmartre

On our final non travel day we took the Metro (and then the funicular) to the top of Montmartre to visit Sacre Coeur and the surrounding area. It is breathtaking. Certainly from the outside it is the most spectacular chuch in Paris. Notre Dame is bigger and more impressive perhaps but Sacre Coeur takes your breath away. No pictures inside so I can only show the exterior, which is just fine. Even the back of the church is beautiful!

Afterwards we walked around the area and wound our way past Moulin Rouge to our subway stop for the next leg of the day. Next stop, the Marmottan Monet museum. While their Monet collection was extensive, I was expecting more. Very good, I was just expecting more Monet and less “others”.

We capped of the night with a birthday dinner for Bryan at Nomads. What a wonderful meal. Happy Birthday Bryan.

Paris – Day 7 (part 2)

I am starting to get into taking photographs of eupopean landmarks at night (or early AM). This time, it was off to the Louvre/Tuileries at night. 

The first shot was the Opera Brasserie right across the street from our apartment. 

When Kate and I arrived at the Louvre, we had fun shooting the Arc du Carrousel with the Eiffel Tower lit up in the background, the Pyramid at the Louvre. We also shot the statue of Louis XIV with the Louvre in the background.

Quite fun.


Paris – Day 7

We left early Friday on the RER to visit the Palace of Versailles.

Versailles was the residence of the royalty of France from 1682 until 1789 when the French Revolution began. Louix XIII had originally built a hunting lodge at the village outside Paris in 1624. This petite structure became the foundation of the most costly and beautiful buildings in the modern world. Originally, the palace was meant to house Louis XIV, commonly known as the Sun King. Close to 37,000 acres of land were demolished to make room for terraces and walkways which were lined with trees. Included in this grand structure’s courtyard were 1,400 fountains and 400 pieces of sculpture.

It was quite a spectacle. From when you first start up the walkway and see the gilding on the gates and facade to the many amazing ceilings, hallways and bedrooms. We toured the main palace, its hall of mirrors, the grounds and gardens and then ventured back to the Grand Trianon and Petite Trianon which were built later.

All in all, quite wonderful.

Paris – Day 6, The Louvre and Love Locks

The Louvre was crowded this morning. Now if that isn’t the silliest thing one could say. I can’t imagine it is ever anything but busy.

How about this, it was so busy it was annoying. Especially with tour groups who act like entitled little %(&^*&$s. I feel better.

The first shot below is an outside shot from inside the Louvre. It doesn’t give you a good idea of what portends inside. The second shot is down the main hall, in the Italian section of the First Floor. The second shot is…wait for it…the hall that houses the Mona Lisa. These are crazy people. I am sorry for you Da Vinci lovers, but it is a little picture of a plain woman. Whatever. Mary called the scene #pandemoniuminfrontoftheMonaLisa. I agree, get over it.

The third picture made my day. It was painted by Georges de la Tour and is called Joseph the Carpenter. I just love the way he uses light to enhance the entire presence of the painting.

Now to the neighborhood. I felt compelled to get a couple of shots of the Love Locks on the Pont des Arts bridge near the Louvre. This tradition started in the early 2000s. It is the equivalent of carving ones initials into a heart on the side of an old oak tree. They take a lock, initial it with a sharpie, lock in to the bridgework and throw the keys into the Seine (some use combination locks to hedge their bets). It is to the point where the street vendors sell padlocks. 

Some are vanilla, I caught a fairly unique one below and saw a couple adding to the collection on the bridge with a lock of their own. Awwww.

Paris – Day 5

Yesterday we visited Mont St. Michel. It was a long day. We had a short walk, 2 and 1/2 blocks to pick up our bus at 7:15 AM and returned at about 9:15PM. We picked CityRama tours, it was just easy. The day included transportation, lunch, entrance to the Abbey and a guided tour that wasn’t over the top. There were about 35 people on the tour. It was more time on the bus than I would have preferred but I am the one who picked the destination so I can’t complain. It is about 350km from Paris to the Abbey. About halfway there, the countryside started to open up. We traveled along the major highways through Rouen and Caen (known to most history buffs and crossword fans). As we neared the site, glimpses of the granite outcropping with an Abbey on top appeared from time to time.

The monument, on the border between Normandy and Brittany, is being restored (with an estimated completion date of 2015!). This includes parts of the Abbey and island structures as well as the causeway which will include train (shuttle) service. In the meantime photographers will need to put up with scaffolding, etc.

According to legend, the local bishop (St. Aubert) was instructed several times by the archangel Michael in 708 to build the church. It wasn’t until Michael “burned a hole in his forehead with his finger” that the bishop acted.

The Mont has a storied past with charachters such as William the Conqueror, Louis the XI, and even Victor Hugo. Wikipedia has a good summary

I am posting several photos here but most from this day (and the rest of the trip for that matter) will be posted in Albums at after we return.

Paris- Day 4

This morning we started our adventures at the Arc de Triomphe. It is in the center of the Place Charles de Gaulle. It is at the west end of Champs-Elysees. Construction was started in 1806 and finally inaugrated in 1836. We you see it up close it isn’t surprising that it took that long.

We took our time walking around the monument and soaking it in before taking a walk down the Champs-Elysees.

Paris – Day 3 (part 2)

Notre Dame. I have seen it many times but always from the other side of the Seine. Today we had a chance to spend more time there. We took the Metro to Chåtelet Les Halles and walked to the Ile del la Cite´.

We decided not to wait in line to climb the tower (looked like another two hour wait, but we did tour the grounds and the interior. It is a beautiful chuch and an amazing feat, 850 years ago.