May 10 Shelf Cloud as it clears a tree line to my west. This one was silent until it arrived with 34+ mph winds of very cold air.
It’s “shelfie” season: the time of year when springtime convective weather generates strong thunderstorms and picture-worthy shelf clouds. The popular term for shelf cloud photos, playing upon the term used for smart phone self-portraits or selfies, is shelfie.
May 10 was the first opportunity. I took up position and awaited the storm’s arrival in the parking lot of a public park. As the storm approached I could see only the separated top of the shelf above the treeline; that gave it the appearance of a wall of cloud (not a wall cloud) looming in the distance. The feature came closer and finally made visual separation from the trees and I knew I wasn’t about to be swept away!
Looking like a wall of clouds, the separated top of the approaching shelf cloud is visible above a tree line.
The storm was silent, no thunder, until it drew closer and I could hear the roar of wind in the treetops. A 34 mph peak wind was plenty strong, however, and ushered in a steep temperature drop. I was glad to have a jacket with me.
May 14 Shelf Cloud. You can see the rain curtain in the distance. When the view of the far woods turned white, I knew it was time to get into the car or get very wet!
Another photo-op presented itself with a squall line of severe thunderstorms on May 14. I thought I’d given myself enough time to reach a selected observation point in a city park in Lorain County but as I drove I realized I wouldn’t make it in time. So I bailed to a rural road and found a likely spot: a farmer’s access drive from the road to an wide-open field. I parked, got out of my car, and there it was! There was thunder and lightning with this one so I had some concern; nearby objects were better targets than me so I told myself I was okay. The shelf rolled over my location quickly. Intense rain arrived with 43 mph winds. And then it stopped. The rain and wind simply stopped. That was a very intense, concentrated line that moved along very quickly. A strange experience.
After the Storm. The rain abruptly ended, the wind calmed, and the sky to the west became bright. A strange experience.
Pre-flight Stretch. A Great Blue Heron stretches one of its impressive wings as it prepares to visit our pond on a fishing sortie.
A Great Blue Heron has occasionally been seen perching on a branch of a nearby dead tree. Yesterday I spotted the bird in time to grab my camera and, as discreetly as possible, shoot photos of it. I watched as it sat, then preened a bit, stretched, then took flight down to the edge of our pond. Frogs, fish, and other prey attract the random heron, and our neighborhood Red Shouldered Hawk.
Venus and a few of the stars of the Pleiades cluster the night of April 3, 2020. Canon EOS Mark 2 and Cassegrain telescope.
Early in April the planet Venus made an approach and passage through the Pleiades star cluster, also known as the Seven Sisters. Many, even most nights were cloudy but we had a couple of clear evening skies that allowed a bit of astronomy and picture-taking. It’s notable that Venus makes the Pleiades transit only once every eight years so this was a limited opportunity to view and record.
Venus and Pleiades stars with labels.
Our Moon was also quite lovely the nights of the transit though it did provide quite a lot of bothersome intrusive light. Nonetheless, Moon remains a favorite target of mine….
Moon in its waxing Gibbous phase. Canon EOS 6D Mark 2 and Cassegrain telescope.
The day was beautiful for a Sunday in early March — sunny and mild with a high temperature of 60ºF — so we headed out to a couple of favorite, easy-to-access spots for a little walking and bird spotting.
Sunlit iridescent plumage of a Common Grackle (Quiscalus quiscula) makes the bird an uncommon beauty.
The F.A. Seiberling Nature Realm, a part of Summit (County) Metro Parks, features a beautiful visitors center with an observation room viewing a large bird feeding area. Today Common Grackles were the dominant presence. Bright sunlight and our angle of view brought out incredible iridescence in the birds’ plumage changing them from common to uncommon beauties.
A Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias), on a nest-building mission, glides overhead in the afternoon sun.
Following a short walk on paved and dry pathways at Nature Realm, we made a little visit to the Bath Road Heron Rookery, at the northern city limits of Akron. There seemed to be fewer nests this year, one formerly-inhabited tree was entirely vacant. Seen in other trees were the stick nests and mated pairs of birds standing upon them. Occasionally a heron would glide down from a tree to search for nest-building materials, then loft them back to their waiting mate in the tree. I shot a good number of photos but this overhead view is my favorite of the day.
These are common, everyday birds going about the business of living; if we look at them closely and well we will discover the uncommon beauty of the commonplace.