Return to Iceland: Puffins are the Best!

Atlantic Puffin's Colorful Face

Atlantic Puffin’s Colorful Face

Puffin Nesting Cliff

Puffin Nesting Cliff

Puffins by Nesting Burrows

Puffins by Nesting Burrows

Puffin Profile

Puffin Profile

Puffin Pair

Puffin Pair

The Little Puffling Children's Book

The Little Puffling Children’s Book

We recently visited Iceland in June.  All Iceland photos (including those from another trip two years ago) are at https://naturetime.wordpress.com/category/travel-2/iceland/

Iceland is a nature photographer’s paradise!  The country is famous for its seabirds.  Most of the world’s Atlantic puffins nest there, totaling 8-10 million birds.  We photographed these puffins at the Westman Islands (Vestmannaeyjar), which is home to half of them. 

Atlantic puffins are nicknamed “sea parrot” or “clown of the sea” for their bright colors.  Pairs dig nesting burrows and lay one egg per year.  Pufflings fledge in August, and sometimes get confused by street lights.  When that happens, children of Heimaey (Westman Islands) go on patrol to rescue them.  Pufflings are then released to safety from cliffs nearby. 

Puffins are a real favorite of ours and great fun to watch!

Florida: Gorgeous Beach Day!

Boardwalk to Beach

Boardwalk to Beach

Summer Day at Sebastian Beach

Summer Day at Sebastian Beach

Marked Sea Turtle Nest Sites

Marked Sea Turtle Nest Sites

Sea Turtle Nest Caution Sign

Sea Turtle Nest Caution Sign

Sea Turtle Nest Totals

Sea Turtle Nest Totals

Today was a gorgeous day at Sebastian Beach, Florida.  The weather and water are warm, and the sea turtles are busy nesting at night.  In fact as of today, the area has recorded the second highest count ever of documented sea turtle nests.  Scientists rope off the nest sites to keep the eggs safe until the turtles hatch.  Great time of year!

Florida: Pink Baby Spoonbills!

Group of Birds Onshore

Group of Birds Onshore

Spoonbill Family

Spoonbill Family

Baby Spoonbill Front View

Baby Spoonbill Front View

Baby Spoonbill on Rock

Baby Spoonbill on Rock

Baby Spoonbill's Beautiful Feathers

Baby Spoonbill’s Beautiful Feathers

Roseate spoonbills are one of our favorite birds in Florida.  The babies are born with pink skin, which Is quickly covered with fluffy down.  We recently saw groups of the babies leaving their nests and feeding along the shore.  What a treat!

Florida: Year Round White Pelicans

White Pelicans at Goodwin Marsh in Summer

White Pelicans at Goodwin Marsh in Summer

White Pelicans in Shallow Water

White Pelicans in Shallow Water

White Pelican with Unique Water Reflections

White Pelican with Unique Water Reflections

Recently we’ve noticed there is still a flock of 2 dozen white pelicans at Goodwin Marsh near our home in Palm Bay, Florida.  The white pelicans have been hanging out there for months – long past the time they should have migrated to breeding grounds in the far north for summer.  I wrote the Treasure Coast Audubon Society and was told that we are fortunate to have some isolated groups of white pelicans stay year round in Brevard County and at Lake Okeechobee.  There are also a few white pelican colonies that stay year round along the Texas coast.  Love these magnificent birds!

Florida: Night Blooming Cactus Time!

Single Night Blooming Cactus Flower

Single Night Blooming Cactus Flower

Four Cactus Flowers

Four Cactus Flowers

Seven Flowers Open at Once

Seven Flowers Open at Once

Cactus Flower Buds During the Day

Cactus Flower Buds During the Day

The night blooming cactus flowers are opening up in the evenings now in Florida.  The flowers are as big as dinner plates!  Spectacular!

Los Angeles: Disney Concert Hall

Disney Concert Hall

Disney Concert Hall

Understated Sign

Understated Sign

Soaring Architecture

Soaring Architecture

Narrow Passageway Through “Sails”

Narrow Passageway Through “Sails”

Photographer Reflections

Photographer Reflections

Glass Reception Desk

Glass Reception Desk

Lobby’s Wooden Support Columns Mimic Trees (designed to hide structural/mechanical equipment)

Lobby’s Wooden Support Columns Mimic Trees (designed to hide structural/mechanical equipment)

Pre-Concert Lecture Hall for “Talks with Maestro"

Pre-Concert Lecture Hall for “Talks with Maestro”

Concert Hall’s Massive Pipe Organ (nicknamed “Hurricane Mama”)

Concert Hall’s Massive Pipe Organ (nicknamed “Hurricane Mama”)

Close-up of Unique Curved Pipes

Close-up of Unique Curved Pipes

48-Foot Mural “Blue” by Peter Alexander

48-Foot Mural “Blue” by Peter Alexander

Rose Fountain Centerpiece in Garden Outside

Rose Fountain Centerpiece in Garden Outside

“A Rose for Lilly” Commissioned by Mrs. Disney's Children and Grandchildren

“A Rose for Lilly” Commissioned by Mrs. Disney’s Children and Grandchildren

Close-up of Fountain’s Delft Porcelain Mosaic

Close-up of Fountain’s Delft Porcelain Mosaic

Coral Tree in Blue Ribbon Garden

Coral Tree in Blue Ribbon Garden

Hong Kong Orchid Tree Near Triangular Doorway

Hong Kong Orchid Tree Near Triangular Doorway

Hong Kong Orchid Tree Flower

Hong Kong Orchid Tree Flower

When we visited Los Angeles, California, we attended a classical concert at the Disney Concert Hall.  The acoustics were incredible!  We sat front row center – so close to the musicians that we could almost read their music.  There is nothing quite like being that close to a full orchestra – it is unforgettable!  Lillian Disney commissioned the building in tribute to her late husband Walt to honor his dedication to the arts.

Before the LA Philharmonics concert, we went on an architectural tour of the building.  It was designed by Frank Gehry, who said the building’s billowing shape was meant to evoke a sailing ship.  Initially the stainless steel exterior was buffed to a mirror-like shine, but the shiny metal reflected too much heat, so the surface was changed to matte.

Inside the concert hall the acoustics are absolute perfection.  Douglas fir wood lines the walls and ceiling of the auditorium.  The cushions of the chairs are engineered to reflect sound in the same way whether people are seated in them or not.  The organ at the front of the hall contains 6,134 uniquely curved pipes (its nickname is “Hurricane Mama”).  The size of the pipes range from smaller than a pencil to as big as a telephone pole.

Outside the building, visitors can enjoy the public Blue Ribbon Garden (up a left staircase to the second level from the street).  The lush garden is a nice counterpoint to the modernistic building.  A centerpiece of the garden is a fountain designed for Lillian as a tribute from her children and grandchildren.  Its flower shape reflects her fondness for roses, and its composition reflects her passion for Delft porcelain.  Designer Frank Gehry commissioned 200 Delft vases from Holland at a cost of $34,000 to produce the thousands of pieces needed for the sculpture’s mosaic.  It took a team of 8 artists over 4 months to complete the lovely fountain.

When speaking of his work, Gehry said “Architecture should speak of its time and place, but yearn for timelessness.”

A fun TV show about the Disney Concert Hall by Huell Howser of “California’s Gold” is at:  https://blogs.chapman.edu/huell-howser-archives/2007/09/11/disney-concert-hall-downtown-111/

More info is at:  http://www.laphil.com/visit/tours

Long Beach: Art Deco Queen Mary

Queen Mary Beside Modern Day Cruise Ship (left)

Queen Mary Beside Modern Day Cruise Ship (left)

View on Top Deck of Ship

View on Top Deck of Ship

Queen Mary's Triple Stacks

Queen Mary’s Triple Stacks

Vintage Luggage Label

Vintage Luggage Label

Shipyard Room:  World's Longest LEGO Model Ship

Shipyard Room: World’s Longest LEGO Model Ship

Polished Brass Equipment of Helm

Polished Brass Equipment of Helm

Hydraulic Steering Wheel Turns 40-Ton Rudder

Hydraulic Steering Wheel Turns 40-Ton Rudder

Wireless Room (note antique microphone and inset rotary dial telephone)

Wireless Room (note antique microphone and inset rotary dial telephone)

Ship of Woods (56 species)

Ship of Woods (56 species)

Green Onyx Art Deco Style Clock

Green Onyx Art Deco Style Clock

Vintage Queen Mary Doll

Vintage Queen Mary Doll

Vintage Cunard Race Card (Neptune with his Trident Keeping Score)

Vintage Cunard Race Card (Neptune with his Trident Keeping Score)

Russian Attack Submarine Scorpion (berthed for tours beside ship)

Russian Attack Submarine Scorpion (berthed for tours beside ship)

The Queen Mary is an iconic ship that was built in 1934.   At the time she was the fastest and most luxurious ship in the world!  The beloved ocean liner sailed from 1936-1967 and is now permanently docked at Long Beach, California. Famous stars on her passenger list included Fred Astaire, Bing Crosby, Elizabeth Taylor, Clark Gable, and Walt Disney.

The Queen Mary’s nickname is the “Ship of Woods”.   Fifty-six different kinds of wood are on display throughout her decks, including six that are now extinct.  Her grand art deco style makes her the perfect location to host the region’s annual Art Deco Festival: http://www.queenmary.com/events/art-deco-festival/.

A big celebration is planned today, May 26, 2016, for the 80th anniversary of Queen Mary’s maiden voyage:http://www.queenmary.com/events/80th-anniversary-celebration/.   

In April 2016 big plans were announced to bring her back to her former glory: 
http://la.curbed.com/2016/4/20/11467598/long-beach-queen-mary-renovation and to rejuvenate the entire area: http://la.curbed.com/2016/3/24/11299792/aquarium-pacific-long-beach-expansion.   Can’t wait to see the results! 

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