Photographic Post: Happy Happy Halloween

Saw too many interesting things today and resulted in taking too many photos. What a fun day!

Sky-watching on Halloween
Biked to the dyke and enjoyed a beautiful sunny afternoon.

Northern Harrier (Circus cyaneus)
In the distance was a Northern Harrier resting. This is probably one of my better shots of the harrier. Today was officially the first time I taken out the TCON and used it for wildlife pictures.

Today also marked the first time I observed Cedar Waxwings (Bombycilla cedrorum)! What a beautiful bird! They were unafraid of me and flew over my heads again and again. The ones I photographed were mostly juveniles resting on trees, as identified by their "streaked fronts and generally washed-out appearance."

Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum)

Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum)

Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum)

Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum)

Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum)
I believe this is an adult.

After spending a good amount of time admiring the waxwings, I continued on with my bike ride. Along the way, a Bald Eagle flew in front of me and tried to perch on a skinny branch. The stick broke, the eagle then did a somersault, and flew over me with the branches in its claws. What a spectacular sighting.

Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)
Bald Eagle flying over me and heading towards the nest by the golf course. I guess it's time to come back and repair their nest.

By the Terra Nova slough, I spotted a single Yellowlegs all by itself. I am guessing it was a Lesser Yellowlegs though I can't really tell for sure. Again, I took these shots with my TCON.

Lesser Yellowlegs (Tringa flavipes)

Lesser Yellowlegs (Tringa flavipes)
I like the bird and its reflection.

Snow Geese and Sky-watching on Halloween
Snow Geese over Terra Nova.

Sky-watching on Halloween

Sky-watching on Halloween
Beautiful views.

Snow Geese and Moon
Snow Geese over the Moon.

Sky-watching on Halloween
Time to head home.

In the evening, after dinner, my mother and I walked to the local community center where a firework display was held. Below were some shots of the beautiful fireworks!

Halloween Fireworks

Halloween Fireworks

Halloween Fireworks

Halloween Fireworks
One of my favorites. Look like feathers or something.

Halloween Fireworks

Halloween Fireworks

Halloween Fireworks

Halloween Fireworks

Halloween Fireworks
Another one of my favorites. A flower perhaps?

Overall, just a wonderful ending to a memory-lasting October (of 2009)!!!

Stripe-tailed Rat Snake in Hengchun Research Center!

Richmond is still being a wet, gray, gloomy, and not-outdoor friendly place. So I continued to shift my attention to the sunny Pingtung County of southern Taiwan.

After a very educational and fruitful day at NMMBA, we returned to our reserved dorm in Hengchun Research Center, which is another place belonging to the governmental organization - Taiwan Forest Research Institute (TFRI).

The following Friday morning (10/16), we were ready to leave the research center and began our tasks. But before we even left the place, we saw a beautiful snake crossing the trail. It was a Stripe-tailed Rat Snake (Elaphe taeniura)!

Stripe-tailed Rat Snake (Elaphe taeniura) - 錦蛇
It was aware of our presence when we approached, and acted very scary!

E. taeniura (Colubridae) is not a poisonous snake, although it can grow up to 250-cm. This one was at least 150-cm and very beautiful. It has a olive-yellowish color with black diamond patterns on the first half of the snake, and then a stripe running down the rest of its body.

Stripe-tailed Rat Snake (Elaphe taeniura) - 錦蛇
The patterns.

Another common name for E. taeniura is Beauty Snake. It used to be commonly found in Taiwan, but because of its beautiful patterns and suitable length and width, it was captured to make belts during the times when Taiwan was under Japanese rule. It is also common pet to be kept. Currently, E. taeniura is a protected species in Taiwan.

Stripe-tailed Rat Snake (Elaphe taeniura) - 錦蛇

Stripe-tailed Rat Snake (Elaphe taeniura) - 錦蛇
Another distinct feature of this species is the black brow. What a beauty and an excellent start to the day!

Oh yeah! Happy Halloween to all!!


Think back to two weeks ago...at NMMBA

As the rain continues to fall here in Canada, I sit warmly indoors trying to do work.

Then I think back to two weeks ago, where my co-workers and I were at sunny southern Taiwan visiting the National Museum of Marine Biology & Aquarium (NMMBA). What an fantastic place! Personally, I think it is several times better than the so-called world famous Vancouver Aquarium. Besides the more reasonable ticket price, NMMBA is huge! With two different buildings full of exhibits and displays and wide spaces and gorgeous views to the ocean, one full day is not enough to see everything.

A beautiful water playground for both children and adults to enjoy.

Whale Shark (Rhincodon typus) - 鲸鲨
A real-sized Whale Shark model (Rhincodon typus)

A more realistic Whale Plaza right front of the main building showing Sperm Whales and Humpback Whales! Here is someone's post (in Chinese) about the constructions for this particular plaza.

Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) - 大翅鯨
Here's one of the Humpback Whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) performing its well-known breaching courtship ritual.

Outside the second main building was a beautiful artscape named "Giant Squids Swim Freely" by Arthur Yang - it featurs five giant squids swimming and "symbolizing the all-encompassing ocean".
Artscape: Giant Squids Swim Freely

Artscape: Giant Squids Swim Freely
Scurrying toward the "Water of the World".

Beautiful memories of 2009-10-15
At the end of the day, we enjoyed the beautiful view and waited for the sun to set.

Good times!


Missing the sunny days in southern Taiwan...and the good memories

The weather here in Canada is cloudy and gloomy, and the forecast predicted rain for the upcoming weeks. Sigh.

I rarely, if not ever, post photos of people in my blog, mainly because I'm not very good at taking people pictures and because I rarely had good subjects. I was just sorting through some of my better photos from my work trip and had two photos of people in it, and both were of my good friend, Sammy.

Sammy is a nice and smart girl with a bright future ahead of her, and I wish her all the best. Plus, I want to thank her for the times that I told her to hold her pose so that I can take her photos. Thank you!

Miss Shan

Miss Shan waiting for sunset

Full bike ride to the dyke

I went out for my first full bike ride since coming back to Canada. Despite being familiar with the area in most senses, the sudden change in the biodiversity takes a while to get use to.

As I bike along the dyke, a sudden movement behind me caught my attention. It was a cat...with something in its mouth. A bird? As I quickly took out my camera, the cat already crossed the trail and headed towards someone's home.
I believe the prey was a Red-winged Blackbird from the initial looks of it.
I guess this homely cat still got its animal instincts!

It was good to see old familiar animals again, like mallards and this Great Blue Heron.

Maybe it was the experience I gained this summer, but I am quite interested in cavity nesters now, such as this Northern Flicker.

This male just perched on top of the dead tree and drumming loudly on it every 3 minutes or so, and then looking around. I wonder what was the purpose of that? Territory, perhaps.

Snow Geese have arrived home. And so have I.

Moon watching on 2009-10-27
Beautiful evening.


As if I never really left...

Well, the weather finally turned a bit better today for me to go out on my first bike ride of the season. Unfortunately, drizzles started to come down as I biked halfway. Maybe I should slowly ease back into the routine again...

But once I arrived....it all came back to me. The sights, the sounds, the wind, the temperature, the surroundings, everything! It was as if I never really left this place because everything looks and feels so familiar. And now my 5.5 months Taiwan trip seemed so dreamlike, as if it never happened.
Hello, starlings.

Hello, clouds!

Hello, Sun peeking from the clouds.

And yes, hello to you too, Seagull.

365 days ago (2008-10-26) ...
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