Until I started spending some time in Juanita Bay with other photographers and bird watchers, I had never heard the word leucistic. There is a leucistic sparrow that hangs out in the bay and is popular with the locals. Apparently, this is a creature with light pigmentation. It is not an albino but it has a lot of white in it. This sparrow was hanging around in some of the trees near the trail as I walked by. I figured it would rapidly disappear when I stopped but it wasn’t terribly bothered by me and was far more interested in whatever it was eating. It is a rather interesting looking bird.
Author Archives: Rob
In From Manila And On To Teterboro
A sunny Sunday morning trip out for a bizjet got a bonus. I was a touch late for the arrival unfortunately but this G650ER had come in from Manila on its was to Teterboro. It would have been nice to catch it landing but, after it cleared customs, they taxied out for departure to the east coast. I’m sure it was nice to stretch the legs after a trans-Pacific trip although I doubt a G650 is that uncomfortable!
Unusual Shaped Buildings in Vancouver
There area few buildings in Vancouver where the architects have been a little adventurous. Some of them are visible from the shore as you walk around Stanley Park and I grabbed some photos from a distance. There is one that is near the bridge as you drive towards Granville Island. You can see part of it from the Island but a good view is on the road as you drive by. I asked Nancy to try getting some shots as I was driving. The tapered edge makes the building feel like it is hanging over the road. Very interesting engineering!
The Alternative To An ATC Tower
Staffing an air traffic control tower is an expensive business. The technology has recently been developed to allow air traffic control to be delivered remotely. Sweden was an early pioneer of this approach. A series of high definition cameras on the airport combined with high speed data links to a remote facility that is already well staffed means that an airport can be controlled by staff many miles away. This is the approach London City Airport now has taken.
The controlling staff for LCY are now based at Swanwick in Hampshire rather than on the airport itself. No doubt, this is cheaper than having London based staff in the quantities required. It also means that the low traffic levels that LCY has are not having to be covered by an unnecessarily large staffing level locally if the Swanwick staff are able to provide the necessary cover for what is not a busy airport. The visibility of what is going on at the airport is provided by high definition video feeds and there is a tower at LCY which is the one that provides this coverage. I got to see it when I was walking along the south side of the docks near the runway. It will be interesting to see how approaches like this get developed for more airports that need air traffic services but do not have the volumes to justify the staffing involved.
Gull’s Crab Lunch Under Threat
As we walked along the shore trail in Stanley Park, we came up on a gull that had just caught a crab. The gull was intent on eating the crab, as well you might imagine. However, its lunch had also caught the attention of a bunch of crows (could hardly call them a murder). Consequently, the gull was trying to find a way to avoid the crows and eat its food. It was not going to escape them, of course. Instead, it had to do the best it could and accept that they were going to get a few scraps.
Edwards Plane On A Pole
Heading into the show at Edwards took you past a lot of planes that had been preserved outside the base buildings. The parking areas around these buildings had been coned off given that there were thousands of vehicles making their way along the roads so stopping to grab shots looked like it might be frowned upon. However, we weren’t always moving so it was possible to grab shots out of the window. I would like to have got more and have seen the shots of others that I missed but I did get a P-59 Airacomet on one of the poles which is a relatively rare beast.
Steam Cleaning a Hull
Whenever I go to Anacortes, I always swing by the shipyard to see what they are working on. This was a quick visit but there was a large vessel up on the yard with a crew of people steam cleaning it. I don’t know whether this was the precursor to some work or the end of some. I did like the shaping of the screws on this vessel though. They looked pretty sweet.
One Of The Oldest Tornados
The Tornado was entering service in big numbers with the RAF at the same time that I was getting seriously into aviation. I always felt it was the plane I knew the best. When I ended up working on them, it felt like a continuation of my youthful enthusiasm. The Tornado GR1 was my jet. After I moved on to other projects, MLU came along and that became the GR4. Somehow, the GR4 never felt like it was mine. I was a GR1 kid.
When I went to the Boscombe Down Aviation Collection at Old Sarum, there was a Tornado at one end of the hangar. It was a GR1 that had never been updated. Better than that, is was one of the earliest production jets that the RAF received. Some of the test jets at Warton were from this batch so this one really felt like one of the originals for me. The Tornado is long gone from RAF service but, for me, to see one of these earlier jets was really a treat. Camo with black radomes is how the Tornado should look!
Owls Hunting in Skagit County
I made a trip up to Anacortes to help someone out with a project. I was surprised when I got up there that it was a really lovely day when it was cold and rainy back at home. I think there is a line just south of Mount Vernon where the weather changes dramatically. I had heard a few of the other photographers at Juanita Bay discussing the owls that were up in the Skagit Flats and, since I was coming near that area on my way back, I figured I would stop by to see if I could see any owls.
I had an idea of the location and put it in to the GPS but I didn’t know how obvious the spot would be. As it turned out, when I got there, the large number of parked vehicles on the side of the road gave it away. I pulled off the road, got out the 500mm and waited. Nothing obvious happened for a while. I had to get back for work so didn’t have a ton of time but I was hoping that I would see something. Then I saw someone nearby perk up and looked across to see if there was anything going on.
Sure enough, an owl was scooting across the open land north of me. The light was great and looking at this little creature was so much fun. Even with a long lens, it was not a big target and it kept dropping down low where the cluttered background made the camera struggle to keep focus on such a small object. Even so, it was possible to get a few shots.
The owl was flying towards me so I kept thinking it would get closer and bigger. What I hadn’t counted open was that there was a strong southerly breeze and so it was effectively staying in the same place. Crap! Never mind. I was still tracking it when something flicked across the viewfinder. Turns out there was a second owl crossing in front and definitely closer. I quickly picked it up and it allowed me to get a few shots before it went off to another area further away.
This whole process continued for a while before I figured I really needed to get going again. I would have been quite happy to sit up there for a long time watching the owls and waiting for them to get closer but I did need to get back. As it turned out, when I got back, there was some urgent stuff to fix so I wasn’t wrong to leave but it was disappointing to pass up the opportunity. I wonder whether the conditions will be so good again when I am able to go up.
Falcon 50 Through the Snow
Crappy conditions are not usually what you are after when photographing aircraft but, sometimes it is what you get and you have to make the best of it. One upside is that, if you are somewhere with a reasonable amount of traffic, you can play around with getting shots of something you weren’t necessarily focused on. While standing in the snow waiting for the Skycourier’s arrival, I did have a Falcon 50 on approach. I like the Falcon 50 a lot so this would normally have my attention already. However, crummy conditions almost left me in the car. I decided at the last minute to try it anyway.
I was really quite pleased with the patterns that the snow made around the jet as it came in. in such bad light, the landing lights are always going to be more dominant and their ability to light up the snow flurries ahead of them can work out well. These pictures will probably never be gracing anyone’s walls but I got a kick out of them when I went through them back at home.