Portrait of a snapping turtle

Apparently it’s New York State’s official state reptile and, at 8-20″ shell length, average of 8-35 lbs, is one of the largest turtles in North America. They eat both plants, animals and carrion and often bury themselves in the mud with no nostrils and eyes showing, waiting for unsuspecting prey. They will snap at anything they find threatening and their bite is so powerful that it can easily shear fingers. So don’t get too close to one. On average they live 30-40 years.

Looks like something for the age of dinosaurs.

Teatown PlantFest


We went with some friends to the Teatown Plantfest yesterday. Numerous vendors were selling plants and other craft related items. My wife came away with a few plants.

Teatown also has a number of rescued animals i.e. animals that have been badly injured to the extent that they would not be able to survive.

So we took a look at those too.


A pair of lesser horned owls. Just look at those eyes!


Turkey Vulture. They’re said to have an amazing sense of smell.


Black Vulture. These have only in recent years moved into the area. Apparently they don’t have such a great sense of smell so they follow the turkey vultures around.


A couple of red tailed hawks.


The always majestic Bald Eagle.

Taken with a Sony RX-100 M3.

A Birthday Present


In an earlier post (See: Croton Landing – Killdeer) I expressed an interest (with some reservations) about trying bird photography:

I’m quite interested in wildlife photography, but I’ve always shied away from it. There are a couple of reasons for this. First I lack the patience. Second I don’t really have the right “gear”. While I would normally make the point the “gear” shouldn’t matter that much in this case I think it does. It seems to me that without a very long and fast telephone lens taking pictures of distant animals is very difficult. And acquiring such a lens seems to be very expensive. This picture was taken at the entirely inadequate 70mm equivalent maximum zoom of the Sony RX-100. It was then heavily cropped.

Still it did stimulate my interest. Maybe I’ll see if I can find an old Minolta AF lens at a reasonable price. Then I’ll only have to come to terms with the “lack of patience” issue. It might be a good challenge.

In pursuit of this goal my wife bought me this lens for my birthday. It’s a Sigma 400mm f5.6.

I realized that it wouldn’t be a good lens in low/dull light and when it arrived we were going through a period of gloomy, rainy days so I decided to wait for a sunny day to try it out. Unfortunately, there were no birds around so I did a few test shots around our garden.

It’s quite a solid lens, but at the same time not all that heavy (all of the pictures in this post were hand held). As many of the reviews I’d read pointed out it’s really an f8 lens as anything wider than that suffers from lack of sharpness. All of the pictures here were taken at f8 or smaller. It also has really bad chromatic aberration, which thankfully can be corrected fairly easily in Lightroom.

It has a built in lens shade and a sliding cover over the manual focus ring (so you don’t damage the lens by trying to manually focus the lens when the camera is in autofocus mode I imagine). It also has it’s own tripod mount. Mine also came with a polarizing filter.

I’d read that there might be compatibility problems with modern Sony cameras, but I didn’t have any problems with my Sony A77II. I’d also read that had been problems related to stripping the gears on the autofocus motor so, as advised in the articles I’d read I set the AF drive speed to slow. So far so good.

All things considered I was quite pleased (particularly since it was my first attempt with this lens). The results were better than I’d thought they would be. Now to find some birds.


Blossoms on one of our trees.

Newly acquired garden statue.

Our dog Harley.

A garden ornament.

Another garden statue. We’ve had this one for decades.

A tulip.

A visit to the Bronx Zoo – Butterfly Garden

Maybe we came at the wrong time of year, but I was “underwhelmed” by this garden. I’ve been to butterfly gardens in Asia (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia comes to mind) and I have memories of large numbers, clouds almost, of large brightly colored butterflies buzzing around me.

Here I saw very few butterflies, most of them small and fairly unimpressive like the ones above.

I do quite like the picture though.

Taken with a Sony RX-100 M3.