This morning I joined members of the Washington Crossing Audubon Society and an excited group of birders on a field trip in the Princeton Institute Woods by Brad Merritt. The group met near the entrance to Charles H. Rogers Wildlife Refuge. The Washington Crossing Audubon Society hosts regular birding field trips around Central New Jersey, the Delaware Water Gap, Delaware Bay, the New Jersey shore, and eastern Pennsylvania.

FujiFilm X-T2 + XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR @ (100 mm, 0.008 sec at f/4.5, ISO400), © Khürt L. Williams

About the Charles H. Rogers Wildlife Refuge:

The tract is a nesting ground for more than 90 species of birds and scores of others pass through the refuge; over the years more than 190 species have recorded here. There is perhaps no better place of comparable size to find warblers. A few people see up to 30 different kinds of warblers and many spot 20-25 in a single day at the height of spring migration, the first three weeks of May. As a consequence, many bird watchers and nature groups visit the area every spring. Some of the groups include the Summit Nature Club, the Trenton Naturalist Club, the Montclair Nature Club, and the Watchung Nature Club. The Annual Christmas Bird Count and the Princeton Big Day Count cover the refuge extensively.

FujiFilm X-T2 + XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR @ (400 mm, 0.008 sec at f/5.6, ISO200), © Khürt L. Williams

This morning’s field trip was planned in memory of Fred Spar, an avid birder and Princeton resident who recently passed away last year.

Born in Brooklyn, NY, Fred was a student-athlete who ran track at Midwood High School and Cornell University. His career had many chapters. He worked as an elementary-school science teacher before completing a PhD (1980) at Brown University, where he studied Chinese history and spent a year in Taipei, Taiwan, at the Stanford Center. He lectured at Keene State College before working 36 years as a communications consultant at Kekst & Company in Manhattan. He was a member of the 2010 class at Harvard University’s Advanced Leadership Initiative and applied his experience thereafter advising or serving on the boards of environmental and education organizations, including the Watershed Institute, Friends of Princeton Open Space, New York City Audubon Society, Generation Schools, and City Year New York. He was also chair of Friends of the Rogers Refuge, for which he worked tirelessly on improvements to wildlife habitat and accessibility for human visitors.

FujiFilm X-T2 + XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR @ (100 mm, 0.002 sec at f/5.6, ISO200), © Khürt L. Williams

I didn’t know Fred Spar, but it seems he accomplished much with his life. I joined the group on this field trip, not to honour Fred, but to learn more about the Rogers Wildlife Refuge and also do a test run with the Fujinon XF100-400mm R LM OIS WR that I rented. I will be taking photographs of warblers with Ray Hennessey tomorrow afternoon.

FujiFilm X-T2 + XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR @ (100 mm, 0.006 sec at f/5.6, ISO200), © Khürt L. Williams

Photographing the birds in the Princeton Institute Woods was challenging for me. The birds kept to the high branches which meant shooting with a bright blue sky as a background; which means too much backlight casting a dark shadow on my subjects. I continued along the walk, shooting wildflowers and plants until we go to an area of marshland. It was here that I was finally able to find some birds against a background that worked for photography.

FujiFilm X-T2 + XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR @ (386 mm, 0.003 sec at f/5.6, ISO200), © Khürt L. Williams

There are a number of signs within the refuge, one of which explains the importance of marshes and swamps. “Marshes: act as ‘safety valves’ during peak rains; help maintain our water table; provide a highly productive habitat and food supply for fish, waterfowl birds, animals and crustacea; and serve as a collection point for high-ground nutritional runoff.” Preservation of this habitat is particularly worthwhile because marshes are disappearing at an alarming rate.

FujiFilm X-T2 + XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR @ (301.1 mm, 0.002 sec at f/5.6, ISO400), © Khürt L. Williams
Red-winged Blackbird —FujiFilm X-T2 + XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR @ (400 mm, 0.008 sec at f/5.6, ISO320), © Khürt L. Williams

I captured some photos of the Red-winged Blackbird that had landed one on the tall grasses in the swamp. The images are not as sharp as I would like. These were captured at the far end of zoom range for this lens.

On my walk back to the car a song sparrow landed in a low branch of one of the trees immediately to my left.

Song Sparrow —FujiFilm X-T2 + XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR @ (252.1 mm, 0.008 sec at f/5.0, ISO200), © Khürt L. Williams
Tree Sparrow, Sparrow, Bird , Blue, Branch
Tree Sparrow — FujiFilm X-T2 + XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR @ (400 mm, 0.003 sec at f/5.6, ISO200), © Khürt L. Williams
Red-winged Blackbird —FujiFilm X-T2 + XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR @ (400 mm, 0.008 sec at f/5.6, ISO320), © Khürt L. Williams

Tuesday Photo Challenge – Worship by jansenphotojansenphoto

The devastating fire in the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris was horrific in the way that it touched the heart and soul of Parisian, the French and many of us around the world. This cathedral is a true world treasure in both its architecture and the meaning that it carries, which transcends faith. I am heartened by President Emmanel Macron’s response with the intent to rebuild Notre Dame, as it is part of the heritage of France and, indeed, the World.

With this news, it was immediately obvious to me that the theme for this week’s challenge is to be Worship. Regardless of religion, faith or belief system, we can all worship; whether it’s a universal being, nature or the love of our life… Please take this challenge into the direction of Worship that speaks most to you and share it creatively!

I believe in God, only I spell it Nature. Frank Lloyd Wright.

We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.Native American Proverb

Only when the last tree has died and the last river been poisoned and the last fish been caught will we realize we cannot eat money. Cree Indian Proverb

Tomorrow is Earth Day. Go do something to stop killing our mother earth.

Trout Lily —FujiFilm X-T2 + XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ (55 mm, f/5.6, ISO500), © Khürt L. Williams
Trout lilyFujiFilm X-T2 + XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ (55 mm, f/5.6, ISO400), © Khürt L. Williams
Long-spurred Violet —FujiFilm X-T2 + XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ (55 mm, f/5.6, ISO400), © Khürt L. Williams
Spring Beauty —FujiFilm X-T2 + XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ (55 mm, f/5.6, ISO400), © Khürt L. Williams
Spring Beauty —FujiFilm X-T2 + XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ (35.3 mm, f/5.6, ISO400), © Khürt L. Williams
The Rock Brook —FujiFilm X-T2 + XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ (16 mm, f/22, ISO200), © Khürt L. Williams
Fern —FujiFilm X-T2 + XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ (55 mm, f/16, ISO200), © Khürt L. Williams
Rock Brook —FujiFilm X-T2 + XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ (16 mm, f/22, ISO200), © Khürt L. Williams
Fallen tree accross the Rock Brook —FujiFilm X-T2 + XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ (16 mm, f/8.0, ISO400), © Khürt L. Williams
Zion Crossing Park —FujiFilm X-T2 + XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ (27.4 mm, f/22, ISO200), © Khürt L. Williams

Adopt a moratorium on heritable genome editing (nature.com)

We call for a global moratorium on all clinical uses of human germline editing — that is, changing heritable DNA (in sperm, eggs or embryos) to make genetically modified children.

By ‘global moratorium’, we do not mean a permanent ban. Rather, we call for the establishment of an international framework in which nations, while retaining the right to make their own decisions, voluntarily commit to not approve any use of clinical germline editing unless certain conditions are met.

To begin with, there should be a fixed period during which no clinical uses of germline editing whatsoever are allowed. As well as allowing for discussions about the technical, scientific, medical, societal, ethical and moral issues that must be considered before germline editing is permitted, this period would provide time to establish an international framework.

Thereafter, nations may choose to follow separate paths. About 30 nations currently have legislation that directly or indirectly bars all clinical uses of germline editing1, and they might choose to continue the moratorium indefinitely or implement a permanent ban. However, any nation could also choose to allow specific applications of germline editing, provided that it first: gives public notice of its intention to consider the application and engages for a defined period in international consultation about the wisdom of doing so; determines through transparent evaluation that the application is justified; and ascertains that there is broad societal consensus in the nation about the appropriateness of the application. Nations might well choose different paths, but they would agree to proceed openly and with due respect to the opinions of humankind on an issue that will ultimately affect the entire species.