Category Archives: video

A Coot For Dinner

A few times recently I have been down at Juanita Bay Park when the eagles have been hunting.  While everyone thinks of bald eagles eating fish, they are also happy to eat birds if available.  We have had large flocks of coots on the lake and they are a plentiful food source.  They stay close together on the surface but, when the eagles fly close, the flocks will get startled and start fluttering around as they try to evade the predators.

The eagles are not bothered about the flock.  They just want to isolate one of the birds which they can then take out.  They will swoop around until they can take out one bird which they then land on top of and sit on it while it drowns.  Once it has stopped moving, they take off and carry it back to the pole in the bay where they can eat at their leisure.

Before you eat a coot, you need to pluck it.  The eagles make quick work of this and, with a breeze blowing, the air is quickly filled with feathers as they clean up their kill.  Once that is done, time to tuck in to dinner.  A coot is quickly eaten and then they fly off to a log to wash up before retiring to a tree to rest and digest.  If there is anything left of the carcass, you can guarantee that the crows will be paying close attention and will close in to take care of matters.

The Most Unpopular Bridge

I spent a lot of my childhood in a town called Cowes on the Isle of Wight.  Cowes was on the coast by the outfall of the River Medina.  The other side of the river was East Cowes and the two were connected by a chain ferry known to everyone as the floating bridge.  I remember as a small boy when the previous floating bridge got replaced with a newer and larger version.  This same one was in service until relatively recently.  A new one was ordered and its introduction to service has not been smooth.

I see the content of some Isle of Wight Facebook groups and complaints about the new bridge are widespread.  Like most people, I don’t know the actual details of what is behind the problems, but the online experts know everything, and the accusations of corruption are widespread.  In my experience, the most likely problem is just a screw up.  People make mistakes a lot and looking for a deeper reason is usually fruitless.  I don’t even know if it is all working properly now, and everyone is rehashing old stories or whether it is still problematic.

We did take a trip on it though.  It was working and we needed to get from East Cowes to Cowes so we gave it a go.  Everything was fine.  However, it was busy and the car in front of us was the last one to get on.  That did give me some time to get some photos of it and I also took a little video too.  As an aside, while we were in Portsmouth, I saw the old bridge laid up awaiting its fate.

The East Side of Heathrow Proves Fruitful

My visit to Myrtle Avenue proved to be a success, even if it had been a lot shorter than intended.  As I headed back to the Tube, I was ready to call it a day.  The arrivals had moved to the northerly runway and I figured that was not going to be practical to shoot.  However, I could see the arrivals in the distance and decided to try one of the overpasses to see if I could get any shots.  This location was not great but I decided to walk a little along the road to see whether there was anything better.

What I had not thought about was that, since I was on foot and didn’t have to worry about parking, I could really try anywhere.  This worked out very well and I progressively made my way up the perimeter road trying out different locations that either had good angles or were closer to the approach path.  The good news was that there was plenty of traffic and, while British Airways A320s were extremely prevalent, there was a lot of variety.

I am not sure the next time I will get to shoot an Iran Air A330 for example.  I was also getting lots of arrivals of Middle East carriers as well as African airlines.  All of this is a nice change from the regular traffic I see on the west coast of the US.  I was also getting a few jets from airlines I meet see at home but not the types that I would normally see.  All of this combined with the sun being particularly cooperative and I was quite happy with the conditions.  I was mainly shooting stills but I did occasionally try a bit of video as you can see below.

Ducks Fighting The Current

The River Itchen runs through the center of Winchester and, just downstream of the old mill building, the water is very shallow.  The river bed provides a good location for a lot of weed to grow and the ducks seemed to enjoy feeding on this weed.  However, it did require a fair amount of effort on their parts as the current was flowing fast in the shallow areas.  It was fun watching them either paddling furiously or bracing against the river bed while dipping their heads under water to feed.  The water would sometimes roll up across their backs while they fought to stay in place.  After watching this for a while, guess what I chose to have for dinner!

English Day at Exotics@RTC

I didn’t get to Exotics@RTC this year as much as I would have liked.  Sometimes the weather conspired against them and sometimes I couldn’t make it anyway.  I did mange to make some of the special days, though, and one of these was the English Day.  This tends to have more of a vintage feel to it than some of the other special days.  Yes, there are plenty of McLarens and Aston Martins but a lot of older stuff to mix it up a bit.

You get the Bentleys and Rolls (not sure how well they qualify as English anymore) and there are Jags all over the place but there are plenty of less common types and definitely a few of the ones that probably keep mechanics busy.  You have no idea how many jokes about Lucas electrical systems you can hear in the space of an hour.  Aside from these shots, I also took a little video to share with my sister on the day and have edited that down a bit to include below.

The Motion Of A Caterpillar

I have recently come across a couple of caterpillars during my wanderings.  One of them was in the parking lot at work while another was out on a trail.  Caterpillars are strange creatures because they only have a few “legs” which are bunch up together with one other at the other end of the body.  No doubt, a specialist would be cringing right now at the inadequacy of my description.  The result is that the motion of the body is quite complex.  Video is the best way to demonstrate this so I used the phone to get some footage including when the sun angle really helped to emphasize the complexity of the movement.

Sunbathing Heron (I Think)

This heron was standing around on Juanita Bay when mum and I were there.  It wasn’t showing any sign of hunting so I assume it had already eaten well.  The sun was out and it was pretty hot so, after a little preening, the heron adopted a pose I had not seen before.  It opened out its wings and faced the sun.  I couldn’t work out whether this was a position designed to absorb the sun’s rays or whether it provided a mechanism for cooling by maximizing the surface area exposed.  Whichever it is, it was curious.  I also shot some video of the bird which is below.

Baby Catfish En Masse

I am no specialist on fish (or any other wildlife for that matter) so, if I have got this wrong, please feel free to correct me in the comments.  I was down at Juanita Bay seeing what wildlife was out an about.  I was on one of the boardwalks and looking in to the water to see if there was anything in there.  I saw a black mass seeming to pulse and move.  I was confused as to what it might be but the long lens gave me a clearer view of things.  It was a massive amount of baby fish.

My previous disclaimer comes in to effect here.  I think they were catfish based on the shape of the mouth and the barbs but that could be totally wrong.  Let’s assume for now that they were.  There was hundreds of them, if not thousands.  They were moving around furiously but staying closely packed together for safety.  The group would gradually move around and migrate through the plant life.  Occasionally, a group would split off into a second section and then later they would somehow find each other again and regroup.  They looked almost alien as they swirled and moved.  I did take stills, as you can clearly see, but video seemed like the better way to convey the impression that they left.

Did You Know SeaBees Can Reverse?

I was up at Arlington when the Croman helicopters guys were in town.  One of the local aircraft is a Seabee.  It had pulled up on the ramp next to the S-61 – presumably so they could have a look at the visitor.  When they were done, they taxied off.  I figured I would shoot a little video of them pulling away.  What I hadn’t considered was that they would reverse off the ramp.  They backed away before adding some power to taxi north in the normal fashion.  Here is some video of them.

Comparison of Cloud Formation and Development

I may be stuck in the house during work hours but the view out of the window doesn’t have to be totally ignored.  We have had a bunch of changeable weather recently and I have been shooting time lapses of the clouds.  The M6 works well for this but I have been using my fisheye lens on the M adaptor to get a wide view of what is going on out there.  It has proved to be interesting as a review the footage later.  Some of the skies have lots of activity while others don’t.

Sometimes we get the winds pulling the clouds across the sky but the overcast is thick and the lack of heat on the ground means that the clouds are pretty stable.  On other days we get almost constant development and dissipation of the clouds.  We are on a hill so we can get quite localized development around us.  Sometimes you have lower level clouds going one way and higher level clouds heading somewhere else.

I put together a video that includes a variety of clips from these time lapses to show how different things can be on different days (or even at different times of the same day!).