Saturday, November 12, 2011

Now Available: "The Birds of Magnolia Cemetery: Charleston's Secret Bird Sanctuary"

         The secret is out about The Birds of Magnolia Cemetery! Patrick Harwood's 130-page 11 by 8 1/2 book features 46 species of birds and more than 400 color photographs- all taken in the intimate setting of one of America's most beautful and historic cemeteries.  To order your copy call 843.224.3112 or email  The cost is $29.95 per copy or two for $55 (includes shipping).
         (Updated information) To date, successful book signings have been held at Magnolia Cemetery (Dec. 3), the College of Charleston (Dec. 16) and Mount Pleasant's Wild Birds Unlimited store (Dec. 17).
 "Patrick Harwood has accomplished the impossible: He has brought a graveyard to life, and he has done so beautifully by honoring those who live there through the beauty and grace of birds."  Alex Sanders, former College of Charleston president and noted environmentalist   
"Clearly this book is a labor of love for Patrick, and I am certain you- as am I- will be ever-enriched with these beautiful images he has given us." Greg Schmitt, College of Charleston communication professor and professional photographer
"The Birds of Magnolia Cemetery” takes a leisurely visit to Magnolia Cemetery and adds a whole new dimension. Patrick’s photography, identifications, passionate observations, and field notes open our eyes to the beauty and diversity of birds found at this Lowcountry destination, all the while encouraging us to see the cemetery from an entirely different perspective."  Marvin Bouknight, “South Carolina’s Lowcountry…Naturally” author, naturalist and photographer
For ordering or other information, please call 843.224.3112 or email

Monday, October 10, 2011

San Francisco Summer Trip

A rainy Monday night in Charleston is a good time for me to post part two of my summer Northern California spread.  Part one focused on (what else?) birds and other critters.  This posting brings in other more general images captured from this interesting and beautiful part of America.  That's Coit Tower in the back of the picture below.  The tower, built in 1933, is a tribute to S.F. firefighters. 
The streets of San Francisco are so steeeeeeeep in places! That's the lovely, twin-steepled Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul in the foreground.  
Quite a load this man was hauling.
From Fisherman's Wharf can be seen S.F's iconic Transamerica Building and, again, Coit Tower.
Alcatraz Prison is a popular tourist spot, but seeing it from a distance was enough for me.
Cool lighthouse at Alcatraz. "The Rock" opened in 1907. The name Alcatraz Island is derived from Spanish for "Island of the pelicans."
From a notorious institution of hard time to one of America's premier institutions of higher education:  Approaching the beautiful Stanford University campus in Palo Alto (taken with my camera's vivid setting).
Being my first visit to this illustrious university, coming upon Stanford Memorial Church was a thrill.
The non-denominational church dates to 1903.  It was built by Jane Stanford as a memorial to her husband Leland, a railroad tycoon and politician who founded the university in 1891. The church has been described as "Romanesque in form and Byzantine in its details." Amen to that, I say, it is just gorgeous inside and out.  Photography inside is strictly prohibited. 
Across from the church, the Rodin Collection sculpture garden gave me pause for thought.
Yes, I can relate to that, my brother!
The unique architecture of Stanford University.
Stanford's landmark Hoover Tower, named for U.S. President Herbert Hoover who was one of Stanford's first graduates.
Next stop: Big Basin Redwoods State Park where the redwoods are as big and tall as you think they will be.  Ok, they're even bigger and taller!
Clean air, great views and vistas up here in the mountains!
Our visit to the redwood forests was, well, a blur. 
Time for the beach! But here north of San Francisco in July jackets are needed and swimming is not advisable (and sunbathing not an option)
OK, a summer day at the beach is a different experience in Northern California. Home in Charleston, those 90 degree days, hot and sunny at our local beaches, can get old.  Well, not really. 
Remnants of coastal fortifications were really neat to explore. I didn't realize just how deep this area's military significance and history run.
In the foggy weather this sign looked really cool.
Later in the week, the weather was brighter down on the Monterey Bay.
The small city of Monterey was a neat place to visit with lots of shops, restaurants and coastline to enjoy.
At Monterey's Point Pinos Golf Course, this is the coolest driving range I've ever seen!
The Point Pinos Lighthouse, dating to 1855, is the West Coast's oldest continuously-operating lighthouse.
Another Northern California beacon I visited was the Point Montara Lighthouse, which is also a hostel.
The intriguing story associated with this light is that it was transported all of the way from the East Coast more than 100 years ago.
A rather unassuming lighthouse with a great back story.  Love it!
Always more to see and do in the San Francisco area. Hope to get back there.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Northern California Birds and other Wildlife

This summer my family and I spent a week in Northern California. I kept my camera clicking from San Francisco to Monterey, from the Pacific Ocean beaches to the redwood forest mountains.
Below: A California Gull with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background.
In August 2010 we also visited Northern California and I blogged photos of several birds from that part of the country, which can be viewed here. So this visit I kept my eyes open for ones I hadn't seen before.  The most memorable new one for me is the Brandt's Cormorant. 
We have the Double-Crested Cormorant here in the South Carolina Lowcountry.  When I saw a colony of these birds on rocks near the Monterey Coast Guard Station I saw similarities but also some differences.
The blue throat (also described as turquoise) of the Brandt's is a major distinction.  This Cormorant is also much darker than the Double-Crested.
Yep, a face that only a mother would love!
Here's a closer look at the Brandt's colorful throat.
Later that day, driving back to our hotel in Palo Alto, we stopped at a beach and found more Cormorants and Gulls on this old boat.
These Brandt's Cormorants really know how to congregate! When I've seen their East Coast cousins, the Double-Crested Cormorant, it's been two or three at a time, not dozens and dozens! says the name Cormorant is derived from the Latin words Corvus Marinus, meaning marine crow or raven.  These pictures were taken at the New Brighton State Beach on the Monterey Bay south of Santa Cruz.
My second favorite new bird (for me) was this smaller one I spotted while hiking with my boys at the Stanford Dish trail in Palo Alto.
This is a male House Finch.  I was struck by all the red and to be honest I was expecting a more exotic name as I researched its identity.  The Stanford guy at the park's admissions gate had a binder of photographs of birds and other animals photographed at the site.  But there was no photo of this striking red bird. I would like to submit my photo to that book so others will know what it is!
Named for a massive radio telescope built in 1966, the Stanford Dish trail offers majestic views of Stanford University (Hoover Tower is the large structure) and the entire San Francisco/Silicon Valley region.
I spotted several hawks on and around the old telescope. 
I believe they were Red Tailed Hawks.
Ground squirrels are abundant in this region.  They are quite cute and strike some interesting poses.
Palo Alto also has the (free to enter) Baylands Nature Preserve on S.F. Bay.  Lots of birding available here such as the Black-necked Stilt.  
And the American Avocet with its "distinctively needle-thin upcurved bill" (from The Stokes Field Guide to the Birds of North America).
Cliff Swallows build nests in the crevices of the Baylands Visitors Center. Peek-a-boo!
Barn Swallows also nest under the roof. Smile for the camera! 
While always neat to see unfamiliar birds it was also nice to see some familiar faces.  In some trees at the Baylands Nature Preserve I was surprised to see some Heron and Egret nests.  The Black-crowned Night Heron is a bird I know well from coastal South Carolina.
This juvenile Night Heron looked sad and out of sorts on the ground dangerously close to the road.  Another photographer told me that this youngster had likely been kicked out of the nest by its mother because it had gotten too big.  It was time for the offspring to start fending for itself.  Poor little thing!
This young Snowy Egret was still up in the nest.
Gulls galore at Monterey!
It was neat seeing Sea Lions out on some rocks at Monterey.
We also saw Sea Lions in San Francisco at Fisherman's Wharf.
Note the gash on right side of this Sea Lion.
American Robins circulate among the headstones of American heroes at the San Francisco National Cemetery in The Presidio, near the Golden Gate Bridge.
I'll end this posting where I began: at the Golden Gate Bridge with some California Gulls.

My next posting I'll feature non-bird/animal photos I took from around Northern California. It was such a nice break being there in the summer away from our South Carolina heat and humidity!