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I have been working on my night photography skills for a couple of years now and finally, have made my first successful panorama of the full Milky Way arch! I’ve watched videos, gone to classes, read articles and ebooks, trying to learn as much as possible. Many things I learned meant I needed another piece of equipment but I think now, I have it all put together. This is not perfect, that’s for sure but it makes me happy.

And I did it from my own home. I did not have to drive somewhere a long ways away to find the needed dark skies that makes seeing the stars possible. Of course, the foreground is not all that attractive. There are all the lights on the hills from the ever increasing populations of our valley, the local airport, some cars on the dirt roads after midnight, lights from the nearby church and a power pole. It is where I live and I am happy to be here.

This image is made from eight images stitched together and represents about 180° to capture the entire arc of the Milky Way.

I have more to learn but I feel like this is a big step forward!

Just a few chickens with opinions.

Lots to see in this community. This little natural area is right on the outskirts of town and a worthwhile walk anytime of year.

I needed to drive somewhere to see the total lunar eclipse last week but I just rolled out of bed and watched it from here. The last photo is as it approached the horizon prior to totality.

We are happy to see these colorful birds back to nest in our dead trees. This is the second year we have observed them nesting here. This particular bird was perched on a snag in front of our house, surveying its surroundings and being harassed by a Tree Swallow. The swallows normally use that perch and they were not happy to have this woodpecker in their space.

All About Birds has this to say about the Lewis’s Woodpecker: The Lewis’s Woodpecker might have woodpecker in its name, but it forages like a flycatcher and flies like a crow. It has a color palette all its own, with a pink belly, gray collar, and dark green back unlike any other member of its family. From bare branches and posts, it grabs insects in midair, flying with slow and deep wingbeats. It calls open pine forests, woodlands, and burned forests home, but it often wanders around nomadically outside of the breeding season in search of nuts. Lewis’s Woodpeckers nest mainly in holes and crevices created by other woodpeckers or created naturally in dead and decaying trees (snags). They nest in cottonwood, ponderosa pine, paper birch, white pine, and other trees that are starting to decay. On occasion they nest in live trees. Lewis’s Woodpeckers are uncommon and their populations declined by 72% between 1970 and 2014, according to Partners in Flight

They are beautiful birds, iridescent in the sunshine with colors that seem out of place in a burned forest. Once the woodpecker gave up its perch, the Tree Swallow moved right back.

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