Friday, June 27, 2014

Rainbow (Virginia)

We had a brief, but intense, rain shower this evening -- followed by a brilliant double rainbow.

If you use your imagination, you can see a complete double rainbow, but it's very obvious at both ends.
The ends were particularly vivid.


Thursday, June 12, 2014

A Large Black Visitor in Virginia

It started two days ago, when I noticed this "puncture wound" on the rear bumper of my rental car:


There's only one thing I know of that can do that to a car bumper -- a bear. But I hadn't seen one recently.

My assistants at the Governor's School speculated that the bear must have thought my car was just a giant marshmallow:

Certainly one of the ugliest and most dysfunctional cars on the road. Driver's visibility is poor, and it only gets 25 mpg. Horrible car! Can't imagine why anyone would purchase this. Must be why it's on the rental market.
Then this morning, while I was eating breakfast, I noticed movement outside the kitchen window, and watched this for about 10 minutes:

video

The bear was about 15 feet up in a small serviceberry tree.  How the tree held the bear's weight (probably at least 200 lb) is a mystery -- I think it's because the bear was literally draped over the top of the tree, with several branches bearing the weight.

These are the serviceberries that the bear was eating. I thought they looked nice, and took this picture last week.
What's left of the top of the tree.
Another view of broken branches -- you can see them in the upper left and upper right of the photo.
Another serviceberry next to the one that had the bear -- it must have climbed this one as well. The bear behavior also probably explains strange damage to the crown of a black cherry growing next to the serviceberries.
And when I went to take some compost to our compost bins, I found that the bear had come this way as well.

The bear must have come up the hill behind these bins. It ignored the compost, but did a number on the stacked cement blocks.
Fortunately, it didn't take too much time to put the bins back together. But I did have to mind the hornets and wasps whose nests had been disrupted.



Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Box Turtles (U.S., not India!)

It's turtle season -- I've seen four turtles in the last three days.

I've been informally tracking box turtles on our property for a number of years now. I document them by photographing them -- each carapace has unique markings, so it's possible to tell if you are seeing a new turtle or an old one.

Turtle #15 first showed up in 2011:

This morning I came across Turtle #15 on my way down the road. He (it's definitely a "he") is a bit worse for wear, and a good distance (maybe 100 m) from where I first encountered him. But this time it was obvious that Mr. Turtle had had some sort of encounter that took off one of the carapace plates near his head.


But when I looked at the old photo, it appears this is an old injury. If you look carefully, you can see that this piece was already missing in 2011.

For those who are wondering, I've documented 25 distinct turtles going back to 1999. But I only started  systematically documenting them in 2009.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Back in the U.S. -- Red-Spotted Purple (Butterfly)

When I got back to our home in Virginia, there was this strange chrysalis hanging to the doorframe:


This morning, I got to see what kind of butterfly was inside. A "Red-Spotted Purple" had emerged and was still waiting for its wings to dry and stiffen.


A close-up view of the wing edge. This is the underside of the hind wing.
When I returned later, a red stain appeared below the empty chrysalis case. It appears to have dripped from the case.


Thursday, June 5, 2014

New International Terminal at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (Mumbai)


A new terminal for international flights opened in February. It's a really spectacular structure -- rather looks like the Starship Enterprise from the outside -- all rounded curves in white. It's a huge upgrade from the old terminal!

On my way back to the States, I took a few pix:

The check-in area.
In addition to new facilities, the check-in and immigration (well, really emigration) checkpoints have been streamlined. Nice!

The ceiling is all curves and well-lit.

No modern airport is complete without the opportunity to spend a lot of $$$.

The business/first class lounge.
Flying business class (courtesy frequent flyer miles) was very nice -- being able to turn your seat into a flat bed made for a minimum of jet lag. Too bad I'll only be able to do this once a year. …

Mostly Cows

If it's India, there must be cows. They are just too inviting as subjects.

Nice set of horns!
There is a group of cows that roam a particular neighborhood in Vapi that have very twisted horns -- to the point that it must interfere somewhat with turning their head.

Notice how the horns of this cow curl around and touch its neck.

Same herd; same twisty horns,
Off topic, but interesting …

This underpass under NH8 has drainage holes in the concrete wall.A lot of rock and fill seem to be coming out of these drain holes, as every one has a neat pile of crushed stone underneath it. I wonder about the stability of the roadbed above. Come monsoon in a week or two, we will no longer be able to use this shortcut, as it will be knee-deep in water.