Monthly Archives: March 2015

Salt Flats of Bonaire

The wind carries swirls of foam across shallow flamingo-pink pools that dapple the Caribbean island of Bonaire. Across a one-lane road, the surf crashes against piles of bleached coral, filling the air with a briny haze. In the distance, other pools shine brown and violent green, while imposing pyramids of salt crystals glint in the sunlight.

These are Bonaire’s salt flats, where seawater evaporates in the sun and wind, leaving behind rippling expanses of colorful algae and bacteria adapted to extreme saline conditions. Salt has been harvested here for hundreds of years, first by African slaves of the Dutch government, then by private industry. Now the historic salt flats are serving as inspiration for a renewable energy future in Bonaire, based on the island’s abundant wind, sun, and algae.

Dubbed one of the “ABC Islands” of the Netherlands Antilles, Bonaire isn’t as well known as nearby Aruba and Curacao. Tourists tend to overlook it because it has few sandy beaches, no high-rise resorts, and no appreciable nightlife. Still, the economy is based almost entirely on tourism—mostly associated with scuba divers who come to explore the coral reefs of a marine reserve along the island’s coast.

Salt is Bonaire’s only export, and many necessities, including food and fuel, must be imported.

Click on image for larger view:

Bonaire-Salt-Flats-web

Bonaire’s salt flats, where algae and bacteria color pools of evaporating seawater.

Posted in art and entertainment, travel

Updated Orbs

Last week I was honored to speak to the Cape Fear Camera Club. We talked about the many different things you can do with your photography other than the normal – “Think outside the Box” stuff.

One of the topics was Orbs. This seemed to have been met with some enthusiasm and I was thinking about his while driving home. It occurred to me that I had not done an new orbs recently. The next morning I corrected this situation. Below are some new orbs for your viewing pleasure.  These are also posted in the Orb Gallery here on this website.

If you are new to the world of orbs and would like to learn how to make your own, I have a video and written tutorial available for you. Just follow this link or “click” on Tutorials in the menu bar above.

Bird-of-Paradise-in-Pool-Orb-web Crotons-Orb-web Peacock-orb-web BelinUMC-Orb-web Ornamental_Cabbage_Orb-web Pile-of-Leaves-orb-web Swamp Sunflower Orb-web

Posted in abstract, art and entertainment, Belin, Bird of Paradise, Digital Art, Fun Stuff, orbs Tagged , , |

Diamond Falls Botanical Gardens

Soufriere Estate is one of the oldest and best-preserved estates on St. Lucia and was originally part of the 2000 acres of land granted to the Devaux family by King Louis XIV of France in 1713, in recognition of their service to ‘Crown and Country’. In 1740 the three Devaux brothers came to St. Lucia to claim the land which at that time included the present site of Soufriere Town, as well as the Sulphur Springs.

This historical estate has been transformed from a working plantation that once produced limes, copra and cocoa, into one of the major heritage sites in the region, as well as a viable and spectacular tourist attraction that includes the Botanical Gardens, Waterfall, Mineral Baths, Nature Trail, Old Mill Restaurant and the historic Soufriere Estate House.

The Diamond Botanical Gardens sit in a natural gorge that begins at the world’s only drive through volcano and bubbling sulphur springs. The sulphur springs are weak spots in the crust of an enormous collapsed crater, the result of a volcanic upheaval that took place some 40,000 years ago. Natural minerals found in the area include, Kaolinite and Quartz and smaller quantities of Gypsum, Alunite, Pyrite and Geotite.

In 1713, three Devaux brothers were granted 2000 acres of land by King Louis XIV for services to Crown & Country.
The Diamond Botanical Gardens sit on the original site of the spring baths which were built in 1784. These baths were built so that the troops of King Louis XVI of France could take advantage of the waters therapeutic powers.

Diamond Botanical Gardens is now a thriving tourism site, six acres of planted gardens, including Diamond Falls. The Diamond River comes straight from the Sulphur Springs, black from volcanic mud and spilling over the rock face, staining the stone wall with the many colors left behind by the minerals finally dropping into the calm pond below. In 1983, Mrs. Joan Devaux, daughter of Mr. André du Boulay took over the management of the Estate.  Throughout the years Mrs. Devaux has continued the development and restoration of this beautiful estate.

Below are some images I took while visiting these Gardens in February 2015. Click on any image for a larger view.

Bird-of-Paradise-in-Pool-web Bird-of-Paradise-on-Black-web BOP-web Coconuts-web Diamond-Falls-Red-Bridge2-web Diamond-Falls-Red-Bridge-web Diamond-Falls-web pink-web

Posted in art and entertainment, Bird of Paradise, flowers, garden, outdoor, photography, travel Tagged , , , , |

Crab vs Iguana

Last month, while we were on our three-week Caribbean Cruise, we spent a day on the island of Aruba. Having been there before we opted to just take a bit of a walkabout and do some souvenir shopping, shoot a few pictures, grab some lunch and just enjoy the warmth of Aruba.

Our walk took us down the Lloyd G. Smith Blvd, past a marina, along Wilhelmina Park and down by Renaissance Beach. While walking toward Renaissance Beach we spotted a couple of Iguana. One was a bigger older one colored a dull grey. The second (pictured below) was smaller, younger and a bright green. Nearby was a crab (also pictured below). I think this is a Sally Lightfoot crab but I am not sure of that ID.

Anyway, the crab spotted the younger Iguana and wanted to be friends. The Iguana also noticed the crab and was not too sure of what was going on. Very slowly the crab got closer and closer to the Iguana while young Mr. Iguana stood his ground but watched intently. The crab finally came within arms errr leg length away and touched the Iguana on the neck checking him out. I was fortunate to capture this fleeting moment (also shown below). A nano-second after I took this picture both the crab and iguana jumped straight up in the air and then took off in separate directions!

The-Iguana-webThe-Crab-webCrab-vs-Iguana-web

Posted in art and entertainment, outdoor, travel Tagged , , |

Flamingos in Bonaire

The flamingo, Bonaire’s national symbol, is technically a shore bird, but its beauty, rarity, and unique presence on the island places the bird in a class by itself.
There are only four places in the world where large numbers of Caribbean Flamingos breed — Bonaire is one of them. You can see allusions in the walls of the pink-painted airport, in the endless flamingo T-shirts, and in the array of flamingo kitch for sale on the streets of Kralendjik, but the birds themselves appear to be entirely absent, carefully hidden on some Bonairean backstage.

Flamingo-Duo-web

This wariness seems to be unnatural: if nature ever dressed a diva, the flamingo is it. The pink cotton candy feathers, the graceful, wavy neck, and the long sinewy legs all seems to cry “look at beautiful me,” but in reality flamingos prefer anything but a spotlight. In fact, the birds are so sensitive to noise and intrusion that the slightest disturbance will cause them to quickly flee. They will never come close to people.

There are two places to see Bonaire’s flamingos. One is at the Pekelmeer Sanctuary to the south, where the birds flock around the salt ponds; the other at Lake Gotomeer, in Washington Slagbaai National Park in the north. The photos shown here were taken at Gotomeer.

Fishing-Flamingos-web Feeding-Flamingos-webAt both places, it is important to keep your distance and not disturb the birds. Bonaireans are as protective of their flamingos as they are of their reefs. The best way to get a great photograph is to bring a telephoto lens. On a good day, you can see them gather by the hundreds in a chaotic, undulating pink cloud. The pinkness of their feathers actually comes from the carotene found in their diet of brine shrimp, brine fly pupae, small clams, and other micro-delectables.

Flamingos are social animals, and a minimum of 15 to 20 animals is required before they’ll begin to breed. They mate for life, and what actually causes them to nest and breed is still something of a mystery (though several studies suggest that a good rainfall is highly influential). Once a pair does mate, both the male and the female share equally in the tasks of building a nest, sitting on their single egg for about a month, and feeding the chick. After about three months, the chick will be able make the 90 kilometer flight to Venezuela, a trip the flamingos make when food on Bonaire becomes scarce.

Three-Amigos-web

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