Florida Skies: Sunrise Clouds and Midnight Rocket

Spectacular Cloud with Rainbow at Sunrise

Spectacular Cloud with Rainbow at Sunrise

Close-up of Rainbow Cloud

Close-up of Rainbow Cloud

Tall Glowing Tropical Cloud

Tall Glowing Tropical Cloud

Rocket Launch After Midnight

Rocket Launch After Midnight

We’ve had the most beautiful sights in the sky both day and night this week.  One morning at sunrise we woke up to tall tropical clouds that seemed to glow from within.  One cloud even had a rainbow in it.  After midnight last night we watched a spectacular rocket blastoff.  A Delta 4 rocket successfully launched two satellites into orbit at 12:52 am.  Our 30 second photograph’s unusual effect is the result of light fog and a full moon.  High humidity made the roar of blastoff over 60 miles away quite loud and long.  Since light travels faster than sound, we saw the liftoff before we heard it.  

Curious Icelandic Sheep

Cute Lamb on Hill

Cute Lamb on Hill

Mother Sheep and Lamb Grazing

Mother Sheep and Lamb Grazing

Mother Sheep and Twin Lambs

Mother Sheep and Twin Lambs

Sheep Approaching Car

Sheep Approaching Car

Lamb Face

Lamb Face

Lamb's Long Eyelashes

Lamb’s Long Eyelashes

Sheep in Iceland are purebreds that are direct descendants of those brought by the Vikings over 1,000 years ago.  They are very hardy and cold-tolerant animals. Sometimes they are curious and approach cars and people!

Iceland: Dramatic Viking Movie Set and Black Sand Dune Beach

Viking Cafe

Viking Cafe

Viking Village Panorama

Viking Village Panorama

Approach to Viking Movie Set

Approach to Viking Movie Set

Viking Long House

Viking Long House

Viking Turf Houses

Viking Turf Houses

Viking Catapult

Viking Catapult

Viking Hut with Horns

Viking Hut with Horns

Black Sand Dunes and Misty Vestrahorn Mountain

Black Sand Dunes and Misty Vestrahorn Mountain

Richard and Dunes for Scale

Richard and Dunes for Scale

Dune Covered with Green Grass

Dune Covered with Green Grass

Sideswept Dune

Sideswept Dune

Windswept Dunes

Windswept Dunes

Single Blade of Grass in Black Volcanic Sand

Single Blade of Grass in Black Volcanic Sand

Departure on Stokksnes Exit Road

Departure on Stokksnes Exit Road

Mist Flowing Down Mountain

Mist Flowing Down Mountain

Mist Flowing Over Mountain

Mist Flowing Over Mountain

Descriptive Map of Vestrahorn and Stokksnes Area

Descriptive Map of Vestrahorn and Stokksnes Area

Viking Cafe Map of Area

Viking Cafe Map of Area

An especially great place for photography in southeastern Iceland is Vestrahorn Mountain.  Its 8-10 million year old gabbro and granophyre rocks are the remains of an ancient magma chamber of an extinct volcano.  To get to it, drive on Ring Road 1 about one hour east of Jokulsarlon and exit to Stokksnes (an old WWII radar base).  The exit is just before the tunnel entrance east of Hofn.  Drive about 3 miles on the dirt road until you reach the remote family-owned Viking Café and pay a small entrance fee. 

A short hike through this stunning landscape leads to a former Viking movie set.  This Viking village is going to be revived next year (2017) to film the new movie “Vikingr” by Universal Studios.  The movie is about epic Viking sagas by Icelandic director Baltasar Kormakur – watch for it in the future!  More info is at: http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/movies/moviesnow/la-et-mn-iceland-viking-movie-baltasar-kormakur-20141008-story.html

Drive a very short distance in the other direction to the sea to photograph the black volcanic sand dunes and mist-covered mountains.  The dunes are shaped by the wind and topography.  This place is stunning and embodies the wildness and drama of the Icelandic landscape – the owners consider it Heaven on Earth

Iceland: Stunning Jokulsarlon Ice Lagoon!

Stunning Jokulsarlon Ice Beach

Stunning Jokulsarlon Ice Beach

Wave Crashing onto Ice

Wave Crashing onto Ice

Blue Iceberg

Blue Iceberg

Stunning Blue Ice

Stunning Blue Ice

Close-up of Blue Ice

Close-up of Blue Ice

Iceberg on Black Volcanic Sand

Iceberg on Black Volcanic Sand

Rippled Ice

Rippled Ice

Ice with Fish-like Shape

Ice with Fish-like Shape

 

Ice with Cat-like Shape

Ice with Cat-like Shape

Ice Completely Full of Frozen Bubbles

Ice Completely Full of Frozen Bubbles

Close-up of Ice with Volcanic Sand and Pebbles

Close-up of Ice with Volcanic Sand and Pebbles

Jokulsarlon Ice Lagoon

Jokulsarlon Ice Lagoon

Striated Glacial Icebergs

Striated Glacial Icebergs

Long Exposure of Ice #1

Long Exposure of Ice #1

Long Exposure of Ice #2

Long Exposure of Ice #2

Long Exposure of Ice #3

Long Exposure of Ice #3

Long Exposure of Ice #4

Long Exposure of Ice #4

Jokulsarlon is one of those places you never forget.  The glaciers, icebergs, and crystalline ice on the volcanic black sand beach are stunning!  If the weather turns rainy, it only serves to make the blue ice even bluer (click on any of the images to enlarge).  If you visit Iceland, don’t miss this incredible place!   More info is at:  http://icelagoon.is/

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!

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