Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Iceland: Part 2 - enchanted landscapes

Something these photos can't convey is the sheer expanse and size of the landscape in Iceland.

Vast lava fields stretch out at the feet of commanding mountains, topped by melodramatic clouds.


This is the southwest region, where I felt mythical giants would rise up from their slumber at any moment.  The earth is very much alive and constantly moving and changing.


A glacier flows down from a mountain, carving a valley as it heads for the sea.


Volcanic activity is obvious, as jagged mountains shoot straight up towards the sky.  The tiny white specks in the bottom right of this photo are sheep.


Farms nestle in the lowlands, directly beneath the volcanic monsters that could spring to life at any moment.


Melting glaciers turn to rivers and streams that meander through flat grassy terrain.  Below, the horizontal dark line of rock on the far side of the river is one of the fault lines separating the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates.  This area is stretching apart.

Thingvellir - Icelandic continenental rift valley

Everywhere I looked, the scene was more breathtaking than the last.  This is a place to really witness the earth in action.


Volcanic steam rises from hot springs...

Steaming hot springs

Despite the continuous threat of volcanic eruptions and flooding, farms prosper.  Here, a field of wheat grows between the mountains and ocean.

Wheat field in Iceland

The landscape changes from moment to moment - the sun shines, then disappears.  Clouds roll in , then retreat.  Rain pummels the countryside, then is driven away by forceful winds.  It's ancient and brand new at the same time.

On the road in Iceland 

More to come... 

Monday, September 28, 2015

Iceland: Part 1 - where rainbows begin and end

What is the opposite of sweaty summer in NYC?  Iceland!

We spent a magical week in the land of enchantment, where each sight was more spectacular than the last.  Around the third day, I mostly stopped talking as I was so awestruck by the landscape, which is beautifully wild.

To start, there are the rainbows...

Videy Island

This is Viðey Island, just north of Reykjavik.  It's a short ferry ride from the city and is a great introduction to Icelandic nature.  On a sunny day, the colors are intense, especially the gold grass.

Videy Island

Videy Island

Videy Island

Videy Island

That's Reykjavik in the distance.

Videy Island

An unexpected bonus on the island is an art installation by Richard Serra called Áfangar (the Milestones Project), which consists of a series of basalt columns.

Videy Island

This house, which dates back to the 18th century, was the first building in Iceland to be constructed of stone.

Videy Island

More to come...

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Dora, force of nature

Dora the red-tailed hawk grips the cross of St Nicholas of Myra on Avenue A and E 10th Street as a storm blows over the East Village.

Dora weathers a storm

She stayed there, standing up and head pointed into the wind, for over an hour until it got dark and she went to roost.

I've been seeing more of Dora lately than I have of Christo.  They're both around, often perched atop Village View on First Avenue and E 4th Street, but I've been seeing Dora quite often along northern Avenue A.


As always, she is mysterious and bewitching...


Friday, September 4, 2015

End of summer

Blue dasher

By all these lovely tokens September days are here, 
With summer's best of weather 
And autumn's best of cheer.

--Helen Hunt Jackson

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Gone fishing

I took a weekend trip up the Hudson and was happy to catch some bird action.  Most notably, this osprey who had just caught a fish.

Osprey with fish

Osprey with fish


Osprey with fish

The osprey was flying around near the Hudson-Athens lighthouse, where gulls and cormorants sunned themselves on the roof.

If you get out your magnifying glass and look at that tiny black speck at the top of the trees just to the left of the lighthouse, you'll see it's a.... 

Hudson-Athens Lighthouse

Bald eagle!

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

A magnificent surprise.

See more photos here.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Uninformative hawk update

There's not much to say, really.  The height of summer means not much in the way of East Village hawk-watching.  Christo and Dora are still around, but I've not seen any of their kids since the first week of August.

Last season, Dora disappeared in August, right around the time the older two kids took off on their own.  I don't know if she went on vacation, or if she could have accompanied them on their travels.  At that time, Christo spent a lot of time in Tompkins Square Park looking after the third sibling, who remained in the neighborhood for a few more weeks. 

This year is very different.  We've not had the opportunity to play with the hawks in the park like last year, which is pretty disappointing.  However, as both parents are still staying close, I have to wonder if the youngsters are still around, too.  They can be impossible to see when perched high in the trees.

Anyway, here is Dora as she sat atop Village View at First Avenue and 4th Street this morning.


And here's Christo atop St Nicholas of Myra on Avenue A and 10th Street this evening.


I'm looking forward to more hawk action as fall sets in...