Early one morning, recently, I looked out and saw a large spider sitting dead center on a perfect web, just outside an east-facing window. I could clearly see the topside of this half-dollar-sized arachnid, but neither of my cameras would focus on it, preferring instead the intervening window screen.

So, I went outside, stood on a patio chair, and took this closeup of its underside. The low, early sun lit it perfectly. The next morning when I glanced out, the big spider was gone, web and all.

I shot it on September 29, 2014, at 7:45 am. Here, I show it about four times actual size.

Related posts: Spider on Strand*. Click image to enlarge it, and browser’s back arrow to close. Comments are welcome.

 
7:12 am
7:47 am

7:12 am

7:47 am

7:12 am thumbnail
7:47 am thumbnail

Gosh, another high-altitude beauty so soon.

Astronomical sunrise occurred at 6:48 am this day. Exactly 24 minutes later, at 7:12 am, the sun peeped above the high ridge along the eastern shore. That long delay will shorten slightly later in the year, as the sunrise moves southerly to a lower part of the ridge. On this day, the sun rose directly opposite the camera, at east-southeast. The date was October 7, 2014.

The second frame came 35 minutes later, when I happened to glance out the window and saw this magnificent, post-dawn formation. It was too good to pass up.

Related posts: Lava Dawn, September Dawn*. Click image to enlarge it, and browser’s back arrow to close. Comments are welcome.

 


This high-altitude, dawn display was the second such in two days, a repetition unprecedented for the warm month of September.

Subdued but striking, this fiery formation reminded me of lava flow. Increasingly, I’ve had trouble finding names for these dawn spectacles. “Molten,” I had already used, so I settled on simply, “Lava.”

The date was September 29, 2014, and the time, 6:42 am. The sun was still hidden behind the high ridge lining the eastern shore. Astronomical sunrise occurred just three minutes earlier, at 6:39 am.

Related posts: September Dawn*, Molten Dawn. Click image to enlarge it, and browser’s back arrow to close. Comments are welcome.

 


In this fanciful, dawn display, we see high-altitude clouds brightly lit up by a sun still hidden from our view. The subtle colors result from the shallow angle at which the sun’s light hits the clouds, as well as the shallow angle at which we view them.

These celestial delights seem to be occurring earlier and earlier in the year. This is the first I can remember in warm September. Two years ago, I saw one in mild October, thinking how early that was. Prior to that, I had come to expect them only in the coldest months, November through January, when the sun is at or near its lowest point in the sky.

Here, the sun is just topping the high ridge along the eastern shore. It is rising in the east-southeast. By December 21, the day of the winter solstice, it will rise in the south-southeast. The scene was recorded on September 26, 2014, at 6:59 am.

At this early hour, the vapor trails were probably created by military aircraft leaving Hanscomb Air Force base in nearby Bedford, Massachusetts.

Related posts: Lava Dawn*, Orange Dawn*. Click image to enlarge it, and browser’s back arrow to close. Comments are welcome.

 


I first saw this small hawk through the single French door in the back. It was busily plucking a dead mourning dove on the lawn. It had apparently made the kill a few feet away on the terrace, as evidenced by the small pool of blood and feathers on the stonework.

After consulting The Sibley Guide to Birds, I judged it must be a broad-winged hawk. Its small size and wide tail stripes were definitive. This is the smallest of all hawks, and occurs throughout the eastern half of the United States and Canada.

But this wasn’t just any broad-wing; it was the rare dark morph, which my neighbor, Jim, a birder of many years, confirmed. According to Sibley, the dark morph is rare in the Great Plains where it breeds, and rarer still this far from home.

Fearing my subject might fly off at any moment, I shot quickly through both the insulating glass and screen, resigned to getting a fuzzy image. Opening a door or window on that side of the house was out of the question. So, I quietly went out the front and tip-toed around to the back for a cleaner shot. By the time I got there, however, the rare bird had flown off and taken its prey with it, leaving only a forlorn puddle of gray and white feathers on the lawn.

The date was September 15, 2014, and the time, 6:31 pm.

Related post: Resting Dove. Click image to enlarge it, and browser’s back arrow to close. Comments are welcome.

 


These two anglers afloat in the early morning fog reminded me of a Norman Rockwell painting. The surface fog was caused by warm water vapor rising into the cool morning air, as yet untempered by a still-hidden sun.

The date was September 15, 2014, and the time, 6:38 am. Astronomical sunrise occurred a few minutes earlier, at 6:24 am. Twenty minutes more were to pass before the sun topped the high ridge along the eastern shore, and banished the fog.

Related post: Early Birds. Click image to enlarge it, and browser’s back arrow to close. Comments are welcome.