Photographing herons is kind of a fun thing to do since they are such a large bird and so distinctive. Having got so close to some recently, I have got a lot more photos of them from different angles and this has included some head on shots of them. I had not appreciated the shape of the head of the heron until getting this view. The head is narrow, as I had know, but it is tapered. While I thought the eyes were on the sides of the head, the shaping means that they have more of a forward view than I had realized which is obviously important for hunting for fish and perceiving depth when preparing to strike. Head on it looks like a very different bird!
Singapore Airlines has been taking delivery of a bunch of 737 Max8 jets. These were bought by the Silk Air subsidiary but, after the order was place, Singapore decided to integrate that subsidiary into the main airline. Plenty of the aircraft had been painted before this decision was made and I guess Boeing’s price to repaint the jets was higher than the other options available so they were delivered in the old colors and then repainted after delivery. However, more recent jets have been painted in Singapore’s colors from new. 737 deliveries usually happen from Boeing Field but, for some reason, this jet was delivered from Paine Field. The sun popped out as it lined up to depart for Hawaii where it would stop en route. Not often you get an airline flight between Paine Field and Hawaii!
A few years back, we made a trip across the North Cascades Highway and back across Stevens Pass. One of the stops on that route was Chelan Falls. I was hoping to get photos of the falls but they were hard to see and the sun was backlighting them anyway. I still had a post about it but there wasn’t a huge amount to show for it. Work recently took me to Chelan and I figured I would try finding another view on the falls after the conference day was done.
Looking at Google Maps, there was a road that ran alongside the gorge that the river was flowing through. This road was confusingly named Gorge Road! It was not a paved road but it was actually a very smooth dirt surface. What was more intimidating about it was that it had some very steep drop-offs at the edge with a long drop below them!
I was able to see some of the river areas from the road but, being so far above it, meant things were rather distant. I could also get an oblique view of the lower falls and the bridge across them. It was a lovely sunny late afternoon so a nice time to be out and about with the camera. It was also a bit warmer than on our side of the mountains so a good time to explore.
While I am happy to shoot a Phenom 100 if it happens to be passing, I am not usually going to go out of my way for one. However, if I have a cloudy Sunday afternoon with nothing much going on and one is coming to Boeing Field with Millennium Falcon paint on it, why not? This jet was making a tour around the west and was coming to BFI from Bellingham. I got it arriving and the side I shot had the Falcon painted on it. Apparently the other side has an X-Wing. The underside looked like it might be interesting and I did get a departure shot but it wasn’t as special as I had hoped.
My recent visits to Juanita Bay have provided a variety of different wildlife encounters. On a recent trip down there later on a weekend evening, I got something I wasn’t expecting. I saw something moving on the shore. It turned out to be a raccoon. It was working its way along the shore and I headed around the boardwalk hoping to be in position as it continued on its way. Moving as quickly as I could without making too much noise, I got to a spot ahead of it. It turned out there were two of them!
Once they saw me, they paused for a while. Clearly, they were considering a change of plans. However, I wasn’t moving much or making any noise so they decided I wasn’t a threat and continued on their way. They came under the boardwalk and up the other side and then off into the brush. With so much growth around them, getting a clear shot was tricky but I managed to get a few as they traversed the area, keeping a wary eye on me just in case.
Airlines seem to be consolidating their fleets these days with less and less types showing up. I am sure that this is true for Air France too but, recent experience at SEA feels like the opposite. We seem to have been the destination for a lot of the Air France long haul fleet. We have had 777s coming in here for a while. I imagine that they will be the ones we won’t see much of again but you should never bet on that. The 777-300ERs are likely to be around for a while, even if the -200ERs go away.
Then we have had the A330s and the A350s. I like the look of the A350 so was pleased to see them bringing that on this route. I had wrongly assumed that, with the A350 being deployed here, that was going to be a regular feature. Instead, we have now got 787s coming in. I was north of the airport when I got to shoot a 787-9 lining up for approach. When I have looked more recently, that is the jet showing on the schedule. Who knows what we will get next? I am pretty certain it won’t be the A380!
My return journey from Chelan brought me over Stevens Pass on a sunny day. I had a schedule to get back for another meeting so wasn’t able to loiter too much but I still managed to take a few minutes out to stop and grab a couple of shots. There aren’t many places to stop going over Stevens Pass but, coming down from the summit heading west, there is a pull out and so I made my first use of that. I also stopped coming in to Index to grab a snack from the coffee hut there which has a nice view of Mount Index.
It was recently announced that Nellis AFB has ended operations of the F-15C/D Eagles. The Eagles have been at Nellis since the 1970s so this ends a long association. The Strike Eagles are still based there and there will, no doubt, be F-15EX jets based there in the not too distant future but this was still noteworthy within the aviation community. I have shot a bunch of based Eagles over the years including the aggressor jets. They went a while back so I won’t include them here but here are a few of the Nellis jets over the years.
As the days get longer, love is in the air and this includes the world of geese. Suddenly the geese get very territorial both about potential mates and potential nesting locations. Fights can break out with very little warning. One of the geese in Juanita Bay was definitely in no mood for any competition. It was taking on anyone that happened to be in the way, whether they were a threat or not. Not just one at a time, either. A few other geese were in the area and they each got a dose of its attitude.
The flurry of activity when geese start sparring can often be intense but brief. In this case, the aggravation continued for quite a while. One goose would lunge at the others and they would settle again before he came at them once more. Much splashing of water, flapping of wings, honking and waving of tongues ensued. The goose that was chasing the others would be mouth open and tongue out as it charged at them. The tongue is a nasty looking thing on a goose. Lots of barbs on its surface.
After a few charges back and forth across the inlet, the others started to get the message. They took off and headed across the bay. The main goose was not satisfied yet, though. He took off after them and chased them well across the bay before deciding that the message had been received upon which he returned to the inlet to be ready for the next round of intruders.
It had been quite a while since I made a trip purely for aviation photography. I may have managed to sneak some photo elements in to other trips but nothing just for planes. I decided to go to Nellis for Red Flag 22-2. I had skipped 22-1 because it clashed with some other stuff despite having some things I was quite keen to shoot. German Tornados were supposed to be at 22-2 which I was keen to shoot but they sadly canceled before the event even kicked off.
Despite this, I still wanted to go. A couple of days off work seemed like a good plan and it was a chance to explore the capabilities of the R3 on aviation subjects. While the Germans were not attending, there were some foreign operators taking part. Singapore had brought its jets – admittedly, they didn’t have far to come with Singapore having units at Luke and Mountain home – and Saudi Arabia had brought some F-15SAs.
Things were not as active as they have been on some previous Red Flags. Not everything seemed to be flying in each wave. The B-1s only flew on one of the evening and one of the day sorties of the two I was there. Also, things seemed to happen earlier than is sometimes the case. There were some long gaps in flying when I wondered whether something was up. It was just a slow Flag I guess. However, it was a good chance to hang around and photograph some jets. I guess I can’t complain about that.