Monthly Archives: October 2013

Creature Feature 2013 #10

It’s quiet out on the lake now with the seasons changing. Many summer residents have fled south, and the year-rounders are hunkering down for the coming winter. Still, though, there’s plenty going on as “business as usual” continues for many.

At first I thought a bit of vegetation had gotten lodged on the trash can by the house. This, of course, is exactly what this creature, a walking stick, wanted us to believe.

One of the things I found interesting about the Space Shuttle (RIP) is how it transitions from a space vehicle, to an aircraft, and eventually to a ground vehicle. Birds do something similar in transitioning from a flier to a pedestrian, completely changing shape and how they move. Most birds, of course, do not go into space often. (obligatory Great Blue Heron picture)

It was a cool, breezy day on the lake, one that many of the resident geese figured would be good to curl up with a good book … or, just curl up.

But other birds were busy with “business as usual”. Here some crows are takin’ it to a hawk, who was definitely not where she was wanted.

The crows met up later to discuss the matter.

War birds

This weekend I had an opportunity to photograph some really special and rare “birds”. The Collings Foundation’s B-24 Liberator, B-17 Flying Fortress, and P-51 Mustang, all World War II war birds, were on tour at my home airport in Greenville, SC.

Watching these aircraft fly in and out of a modern-day 2013 airport with all the amenities, I can only imagine what it was like flying them out of what we would now call “unimproved” fields, carrying a full load of things designed and intended to blow up, during a war, knowing they’re going to be shot at.

However, there are people among us who do know, first-hand, what that was like. I encourage you to find a WWII veteran near you, and ask them what it was like. My Dad, an infantryman, has told me many stories that you will not find in history books. These are the stories that will tell you what that war was Really Like. Act now, this is a time-limited offer.

OK, now for the pictures (as usual, click on the pictures for a larger version)…

You can see some updated avionics in the cockpit of the B-24, which only makes sense. There have to be some updates in order for these aircraft to operate safely in our current airspace.

One thing that strikes me about the war craft of this era (I have no idea if it’s different now) is how cramped they seem to be. You could not be overweight, or claustrophobic, and spend any time in these aircraft, or the naval vessels I’ve visited.

When I visited the USS Yorktown, a WWII aircraft carrier, it actually gave me the willies a bit as I was squeezing around the cramped areas down in the bowels of the ship and thinking, “image now that someone is dropping bombs on this thing”.

Here the B-24 taxis out for takeoff:

with the B-17 not far behind:

The B-24 on its takeoff run while the B-17 prepares in the background:

And gets gone:

The B-17 starts its takeoff run:
You can see the B-24 in the distance near the top of the ’17′s tail.

They came back and made a pass over the airport. Here’s the B-24:

And the B-17:

Touchdown of the B-24:

And the B-17, about to return to Earth:

I didn’t see the P-51 flying much, but I did get this shot:

You can find the tour schedule for these aircraft at the Collings Foundation web site. Go out and see ‘em, and help support keeping this bit of history truly alive.

Ride for Raptors, 2013

The 2013 edition of the Ride for Raptors is history. Another great ride through the hills of Pickens County, ending up at the Pendleton Fall Festival, and supporting the Carolina Raptor Center.

Many rides start with doves or balloons. This one is a bit different. I also saw a real wild hawk, probably a Cooper’s Hawk, fly over about 20 minutes before the ride started.

The ride gives you a chance to practice a little urban riding crossing US123 and going through Central, but it also traverses some very out-of-the-way scenic places. This was taken at the 3rd rest stop.

60 or 100 miles? Ya know, I could probably do 100, but it’d take me until Tuesday.

Some of the terrain involved. I wouldn’t want that driveway.

Actually, that wasn’t the …er… most challenging. Maw Bridge Road climbs off the river with about a 9 to 10% grade for about a mile. I wasn’t going to stop there for any pictures.
Lunch was waiting at the finish, courtesy of Subway, my favorite “fast food”:

From there, it was a short walk over to the Pendleton town square and the festival.

Zlaty, the Golden Eagle in the background, and Skoshi, the Red Tailed Hawk, were there from from the Raptor Center.

These are birds that cannot return to the wild because of their injuries and have become used to humans, so they get to travel around to things like festivals. Zlaty was found in Arizona with his wing apparently shot off. Skoshi has an undersized eye and was rescued after he injured his wing on that side. I kind of feel like I know them, as many times as I’ve seen them at this ride. Zlaty is about 30 years old and Skoshi is not far behind.
A Greenville rehabber brought a little Screech Owl. This is a full-sized adult. So cute, unless you’re a rodent…

There was a distinct Halloween theme around the festival and around town. Funny, I don’t remember seeing this guy out on the ride:

If I did try to do the 100 mile route, I’d probably look like this (minus the Clemson flag).

I hope I’ll be doing this ride again. A letter in the registration packet announced that Rich Mead is retiring from organizing this ride. If you or someone you know can take up the task of keeping this going, please contact Rich, +1 864 244 0263 or