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Photos getting attention

Within the last week my photos have gotten some good media attention or at least I’ve been getting good publicity.

The great egret photo I shot while in southern New Jersey has been blogged twice to my knowledge. And, a photo I shot in London was used on MassLive.com.

Great Egret at the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge in NJ.

 

The egret photo on K-Con Inc. Building Systems is a bit puzzling to me but some one has made some nice comments.

A DC Bird Blog has also included the egret photo in a blog post.

Outside the National Maritime Museum in Greenwhich.

 

A photo I took in Greenwhich London was used on Masslive.com in a report about study abroad programs.

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The Island Where You Will Get Pooped On

Check out the Petit Manan Island slideshow!

Few people, if any, have the opportunity to visit a refuge bird colony, and this past week I had just that experience while working for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Just about 6 a.m. and everyone on the island is awake.

My mission was to visit national wildlife refuge Petit Manan Island, one of the Maine Coastal Islands National Refuges, and document what Fish and Wildlife scientists were up to. The focus of service biologists in the Maine Coastal Islands is the restoration of colonial seabirds and to provide a place of refuge. Petit Manan Island is an important and unique refuge as it has historically been a place of seabird colonization, and on it rests a fully functioning historic lighthouse.

My boss and I set out for the island Tuesday morning, after spending the night in Ellsworth, Maine, which doesn’t have much going on. We took a boat loaded with camera gear, sleeping bags, and food for four meals from Milbridge, Maine to the island. The forty-minute boat ride was brisk and refreshing after enduring unbelievably hot and humid weeks of heat in western Massachusetts. And we saw seals off one of the islands along the way, which added to my Maine coastal experience.

There are no citizen visitors allowed on this island.

When we hit land at Petit Manan Island, we were greeted by the biologists, most of which were still in school, working on their wildlife degrees and the like.

The seabird restoration team lives on the island all summer without running water, or a “proper” Internet connection. They have a propane stove, get electricity through solar panels, and use an outhouse and a composting toilet.

While the island hosts various kinds of birds it’s the Terns and Puffins that take much attention.

Daily tasks for the restoration team include provisioning, capturing birds, documenting information about the birds, taking samples to get tested, predation control, banding, and keeping track of pretty much everything the birds do.

Immediately stepping foot on the island, one shouldn’t be surprised if they get pooped on by the massive numbers of Terns flying merely a few feet above (it’s like the Hitchcock movie). Also, don’t be surprised if they start dive bombing one’s head. Luckily, I sported a baseball cap which sheltered my soon-to-be-even-more-dirty hair from the single poop that hit the top of my head.

Sitting in a blind with the cameras.

But, the biologists are even more hardcore, adorning poop splotches on their hats, shirts, and pants. They often boasted about how the occasional plop would make it into their hair or the side of their face. Imagine all that and only being able to take a cylinder shower once in a while. But getting pooped on is like an initiation process, it’s bound to happen.

Bird monitoring is something the team does a lot of. They do this often from the lighthouse and blinds built around the island. They communicate to each other with walkie-talkies and write down data as they see it.

Pretty much every day for about three hours, the team conducts provisioning. Each member takes a hidden post, looks through binoculars, and jots down information on the Terns feeding their chicks. How much fish is being feed to each chick? How big is the fish? How often? Etc.

A Tern ready to feed its young.

These sort of tasks seem monotonous, but the team really loves the birds. Even when they go in the house to take a break or eat dinner, they are always on watch through the windows, whether they are looking out for what the chicks are up to or whether they are watching for predators such as falcons, which often fly over from Acadia National park. When such predators come around, the team scurries to where the birds are squawking in chaos. They watch with binoculars, eager to know what will happen.

The team monitor’s Puffins just as well as Terns. On Wednesday, the the biologists got up at 4:30 a.m. to start capturing Puffins at 5 a.m. Once Puffins were captured (harmlessly of course), team members used walkie-talkies to communicate to one another that a Puffin entered the capturing device. The young woman heading this work would run out to where the Puffin was located and bring the bird back to where documentation of the bird was taken, it was tagged or received a new tag, and was quickly and carefully released.

Coming in for a landing.

The team has also began tracking the Puffins and what they do with the implementation of GPS units. The units weigh around 3% of the bird’s body weight and are made waterproof to endure whatever elements the puffins may encounter. The reason for the GSP units is because few know what Puffins actually do when they are not in human site or are at sea as they are pelagic animals.

My time spent on Petit Manan Island was truly an experience. Besides everything that I learned about Terns and Puffins, I learned about the awesome dedication the team has towards studying and conserving the birds of the island. And I also learned that living on a somewhat remote island with hundreds of birds, and the simplicity of rocks and grass is not something I could handle, while I could handle using the outhouse and lack of running water. I do love the comfort of be able to walk away from a place like the island with millions of miles ahead of me.

We finished our supreme video-photo documentation Wednesday afternoon and took the boat back to the mainland, where I hit the sheets at 7 p.m. after a hot shower and fell asleep at 9 p.m. in the excessive comfort of a hotel bed.

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Photos of the Days – Local Travel

June 22, 2010

Sunderland/Deerfield bridge over the Connecticut River in Massachusetts.

June 23, 2010

Mom at the edge of the garden.

June 24, 2010

Candle light with a sea captain.

June 25, 2010

Insects are there even in the dark.

June 26, 2010

Chasing dinosaurs on the Connecticut River in Holyoke, Massachusetts.

June 27, 2010

Admiring butterflies at Magic Wings in Deerfield, Massachusetts

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I have been Schmapped

Schmap.com is a sort of web based map and travel guide. Schmap.com has used two of my photographs on their website.

Click on the photographs used to see them on Schmap.com.

The hairy crowds at Buckingham Palace.

The Wallace Collection - a hidden gem.

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London’s Docklands

The average tourist might not realize it, but, having its roots in the Roman and medieval times, London’s Docklands is historically known as a port region. As the shipping industry fell out of significance in the middle 20th century, so did the region of the Docklands and the communities it fostered. The region direly needed regeneration. In the last 20 to 50 years many issues were solved by revitalization planning, however some social issues remain and are continuously being addressed as infrastructural changes are still being developed.

The Museum of London Docklands.

 

The Docklands is a region of East and South London consisting of the boroughs of Tower Hamlets, Southwark, Newham, and Greenwich. The area served as the Port of London, which was once one of the world’s largest shipping ports. The land has always been immersed in water and swamp marshes thus unsuitable for agriculture and posing particularities for architecture. The area was an isolated part of London, as few roads existed linking the area to central London. The Docklands was a divided community between the poor ship workers and the wealthy ship insurers.

Some small boats in the water ways.

 

By the mid 20th century, shipping and shipbuilding fell out as new technology and containerization, or cargo transport, was implemented. Ship builders lost work and competition significantly increased, as the docks were not able to accommodate many new carriers. When the docks began closing in the mid 1960s, workers were continuously laid off throughout the 1970s and into the 1980s. The land was left empty, social classes divided, and communities suffering from unemployment and severe poverty. Warehouses and large-scale facilities became obsolete and deteriorated.

Just one of the many Docklands' canals.

 

Redevelopment plans began shortly after the dock’s closure. In 1968 the Port of London Authority sold the St. Katherine Dock to the Greater London Council, launching a competition to find a developer to regenerate the region. The idea was to develop the urban area and secure the physical, economic, and social aspects of citizen’s lives. However, it was applying the actual plan that took nearly a decade. Things were not being built as quickly as initially projected and people were still losing their jobs. Between 1978 and 1981, 10,000 jobs were lost and 9,000 people left the area.

Soon many landowners were involved, such as the Greater London Council, the Port of London Authority, British Gas, Central Electric Generating Board, and British Rail. By 1981, the London Docklands Development Corporation was created out of the Government Planning and Land Act of 1980 and by Secretary of State for the Environment, Michael Heseltime. The LDDC now had to upgrade and use the current buildings, encourage industry and commerce development, ensue housing and social facilities, and create an attractive and peaceful environment. Improvements that took place between 1983 and 1984 were improved roads, buildings, and travel ways. But remaining issues pertained to chemical pollution, and other health and safety hazards. Sewage, drainage, and sanitation systems were soon updated. Tax incentives made way for the development boom.

Controversy came as the developments taking place were about creating luxury housing, aesthetically pleasing office spaces, and industrial buildings over affordable housing. Communities were suddenly being gentrified, as people were still facing unemployment, poverty, social issues, and struggling with the negative construction environment.

London's shipping history goes back several centuries.

 

While private investors and local governments worked to revitalize the area, it was the small communities that organized for change. The Association of Isle Communities, the Joint Docklands Action Group, the Docklands Forum, and more community organizations were set up in the 1970s to create change. These community action groups tried to bring tenants, workers, and businesses together to work with local planning councils to transform the policies based on what local citizens actually wanted. 

What further came from community organization was a niche activist culture consisting of people voicing their concerns through news articles, self-published magazines, pamphlets, and music, such as the song “Give Us Back Our Land” by Tough Cookies. They also organized public screenings of films, demonstrations, and concerts, as well as memorabilia such as coffee mugs and posters to spread the message about the Docklands not developing to their needs.

Teens and young adults hanging out in Greenwich.

 

While it was the LDDC that was largely instrumental in planning and beginning construction, it was the community organizers that made the push for appropriate physical infrastructure in the Docklands. Substantial development began taking place in the mid 1990s. Poor transport into the rest of London was relieved with the construction of the Docklands Light Railway and the London City Airport underwent needed upgrades. Finally, the LDDC began a campaign to bring office spaces and jobs to the area, however, faced criticism because it was still outsiders who were taking the open jobs and commuting in. But, similar to how buildings were transformed into office space, some buildings were transformed into large art spaces and places for artists to live, thus attracting a culture the current community was open to. Affordable housing became abundant, attracting more people to the Docklands.

Aesthetically artistic bridges.

 

The Docklands faced several ups and downs in the following ten years because of recessions and various monetary shortfalls. But development continued bringing the much needed resurrection to the Docklands. On March 31, 1998 the LDDC’s role came to an end. The Docklands was transformed with a new culture, new jobs, and a new way to travel. From the mid 1990s into the early 21st century, the working population nearly tripled bringing a thriving atmosphere to the region.

Still under construction.

 

Tourists and Londoners alike can learn more about the Docklands at the Museum of London Docklands, located near the West India Quay DLR stop. To learn more about the history of shipping in London a trip to the Docklands’ museum, the National Maritime Museum and the Royal Observatory located in Greenwich will do the trick. And to get a holistic education of London since the dawn of human civilization, check of the Museum of London.

The National Maritime Museum - you will be surprised how cool it actually is.

 

At the Royal Observatory in the Greenwich region of London.

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Photos of the Day – Last Days In London : (

April 23, 2010

A grainy moonlit Hyde Park.

 

April 24, 2010

A performance of Macbeth at the Globe. Photography not permitted during performances.

 

April 25, 2010

Parliament at dusk.

 

April 26, 2010

Welcome to Harrod's 'Egypt.'

 

April 27, 2010

This is what London's telephone booths look like.

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Photo of the Day – Overlooking Greenwich

April 16, 2010

Greenwich boasts a maritime museum, the Royal Observatory, and a great view.

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