Friday Fotos: Fire in the Sky


Arizona Highways

Our theme this week was “fire in the sky.” Thank you to everyone who shared their photos on our Facebook page. We hope you enjoy this week’s Friday Fotos, and, as always, we hope you’ll share this stunning gallery with your favorite peeps — you know the drill: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, and the social media list goes on.



By submitting photographs to Arizona Highways via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr or other social networking sites, the photographer grants Arizona Highways electronic rights. No financial consideration will be paid to anyone for publication on the Arizona Highways blog or Website.

By publishing a photographer’s work to its blog, Arizona Highways does not endorse the photographer’s private business or claim responsibility for any business relationships entered into between the photographer and our readers.

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Past Meets Present: Shan Shui Environmental Art




Literally translated as “mountain water”, Shan Shui is a specific style of Chinese landscape art that rose to prominence in the 5th century during the Liu Song Dynasty (wikipedia). In the depiction of pristine rivers, ethereal mists, and hallowed mountains, the artist’s ultimate goal is to capture the ch’i, or vital breath, of the world around them. This ch’i must be caught even at the expense of realism, for if the artist misses it, they have lost the very essence of the landscape. In this way, Shan Shui paintings are only expressions of art, but also provide insight into how the artist, influenced by culture and society, views the natural world.

I recently came across the work of a modern artist who sought to introduce modern human presence and impact into Shan Shui paintings. Commissioned by the China Environmental Protection Foundation, Yong Liang Yang utilizes…

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Where there’s smokes there are raptors


Natural Newstead

It’s autumn and it’s smoky. At this time of year the smell of burning stubble pervades our local landscape, although perhaps less so than in years gone by. A gradual shift to low or no-till farming systems has seen a decline in this practice in recent times.

Birds of prey are often attracted to fire – in northern Australia large flocks of raptors, often numbering in the hundreds, will gather to feed on animals disturbed during burns. We don’t get anywhere near these numbers in southern Australia, but it is not unusual to see congregating raptors around stubble burns during autumn. Such was the case a few days back on the Moolort Plains, with a loose flock that included Brown Falcons, Whistling Kites and a young Wedge-tailed Eagle in attendance at a small stubble fire.

A useful background article on stubble burning can be accessed here.

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This is special


Natural Newstead

Some birds provide more of a thrill than others … White-bellied Sea-Eagles for example. It is astonishing to think that they breed right here in central Victoria, with one pair doing so successfully over recent years at Lake Cairn Curran. With so much activity on the lake in recent weeks, I’ve been worried about the fate of the latest breeding attempt. What a treat then to see a healthy immature bird in the company of an adult, late this afternoon. I spotted the youngster first, perched off-shore, its massive bill and white, wedge-shaped tail obvious even at a distance of about 400 metres.

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The call of the wild


Natural Newstead

To me, one of the iconic sounds of the Australian bush, is the unmistakable and haunting call of the Whistling Kite. A common raptor in our local district, it can be heard calling throughout the year. The typical call is described as a … ‘long, clear whistle, followed by ascending reedy oboe-like notes’.

I encountered a pair a few days back at Joyce’s Creek and managed to catch the bird pictured below calling enthusiastically.

Whistling Kite1

You can listen to an audio file of a Whistling Kite calling here.

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International Centre for Birds of Prey in Helmsley opens to the public


World of Birds

WHAT is believed to be the biggest collection of birds of prey in the North of England looks set to become a tourist magnet for North Yorkshire.

The International Centre for Birds of Prey (ICBP), in Helmsley, opened to the public this week.

The visitor attraction is spread over 11 acres, among the historic grounds and ancient trees of Duncombe Park and contains more than 100 birds in about 40 aviaries.

It is home to some birds including Griffon vultures, Indian tawny eagles and an array of native owls and birds of prey.

The ICBP also runs its own breeding program for endangered birds and is the only organisation in the country breeding Steller’s sea eagles, one of the largest birds in the world.

Despite a quiet opening devoid of any fanfare, the visitor attraction is already starting to draw in tourists from outside the region. It is expected to…

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Who pays for the cleanup?


Ontario Wind Resistance

first tower and turbine in place awaiting blades Feb.13/13By Monte Sonnenberg, Simcoe Reformer
NORFOLK – An estimated 14,000 giant turbines stand abandoned at former wind installations in the United States. For a variety of reasons, the companies that put them up are not in a position to dismantle them. Some have gone bankrupt, leaving the problem for someone else to resolve. Norfolk council was asked this week to think about that happening here.

Appearing as a deputation on behalf of her neighbours, Suzanne Andrews of Port Ryerse asked council what safeguards it has in place to ensure Norfolk isn’t left holding the bag when wind turbines within its boundaries reach the end of their useful life. She expressed similar concerns about worn-out infrastructure at solar farms. “Where is the assurance the money will be in place?” Andrews asked. “Can you be certain anyone will take responsibility for them? The abandonment of these structures is a distinct possibility.”

The estimated life…

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Spring Birding Festivals: Plenty to see and do


The Outdoor Journal

By Howard Meyerson

Chilean-born biologist Alvaro Jaramillo thinks bird watchers can get too hung up in their field guides and miss opportunities to really see the birds they are watching. Bird recognition, he says, takes place in a part of the brain, the fusiform gyrus, where face recognition takes place.

Blink. That’s a robin. That’s how it goes.

Improving identification skills requires seeing a bird holistically, not just the field markings highlighted in most birdwatching field guides.

“If you talk to expert bird watchers, they are not thinking about it. They recognize the entire sum of the parts,” said Jaramillo, senior biologist with the San Francisco Bird Observatory, author of the book “Birds of Chile,” and the keynote speaker at the 2013 Tawas Point Birding Festival scheduled for May 16-19 in Iosco County.

“The key is to get more experience, to see birds more and have them become embedded in…

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