Mission Of This Blog

The overall mission statement of this blog is to share many unique topics of this blogger's interest. Topics include (but are not limited to): Travel & Photojournalism, Nature & Wildlife Preservation, Americana, Local Places Of Interest, Southern Cultural Heritage, Local History of the South Carolina Upstate, Confederate Heritage Preservation & Awareness, Science & Science Fiction, Astronomy & Night Sky Photography, Literacy & Writing, Southern Cuisine, Popular Culture & Philosophy, Fandom, Local Folklore ....as well as various other topics explained from the blogger's point of view. The following website contains the UNCENSORED thoughts and opinions of a Southern-born country writer from upstate South Carolina - the living, beating heart of the great American Southland!

Monday, February 29, 2016

Planetary Photography - 02-29-2016 - Leap Year Moon & Mars

This morning I woke up somewhat early to get a great shot overhead of the waning gibbous Moon (Luna) and the red planet Mars from my back yard. Taken a few minutes after six in the morning on the leap year day - February 29th. A great shot through the tree branches and just above my roof. 

I was also fortunate that the weather was good and skies clear. Usually it seems like all the really good astronomical events happen on rainy or cloudy days. Hope y'all enjoy it.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Virginia Flaggers Raise Large Battle Flag In Honor Of SC General Wade Hampton III

On Saturday, February 13th, the Virginia Flaggers raised a permanent 20-foot-by-20-foot Confederate Army of Northern Virginia battle flag on a large 80 foot pole off U.S. Highway 301 near I-95 south, exit 41, in Prince George County, just south of Petersburg.

Lt. General Wade Hampton III.
Photo taken in 1865 near the end of the War.
This flag, placed on private land, was raised in honor of Confederate Lt. General Wade Hampton III -- a native of South Carolina, and personal military hero of this blogger -- about a mile from the site of the famous Beefsteak Raid in September of 1864. Under the leadership of the Confederate cavalry general, a force of about 3,000 Confederate troops successfully crossed into Union lines in a 100 mile long raid rustling over 2,400 head of cattle back across the lines to the Confederate capital of Richmond, VA and the starving soldiers and people there. This even was popularized in the 1966 Hollywood film Alvarez Kelly.  

About 150 people attended the flag raising, which was reportedly met with lots of cars and trucks honking their horns in approval from the nearby interstate. It was with great regret that this blogger was not on hand to take part in the ceremony, or get good photos; although there are some outstanding photos and a description of the service at the Virginia Flagger's blog page

The raising of the I-95 Wade Hampton Prince George Memorial Battle Flag is the 18th such raising of large battle flags across the State of Virginia by the VA Flaggers since September 2013.

As a South Carolinian and Confederate descendant, I would like to offer my personal thanks to the Virginia Flaggers for their amazing efforts in honoring our Southern dead -- in this case General Wade Hampton -- and for fighting back against anti-Confederate heritage regressive ignorance at every turn. 

The I-95 Wade Hampton Prince George Memorial Battle Flag.
Image courtesy of The Virginia Flaggers facebook page.

Outstanding drone shot of the Hampton Memorial Battle Flag.
Image courtesy of The Virginia Flaggers facebook page.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Yearly Visitors To Rock Hill

The town of Rock Hill, as well as my home in Chester County just 15 miles south of the city, are both at least a four hour drive from the Atlantic coast and Myrtle Beach - one of the more popular tourist destinations for out-of-state visitors to the Palmetto State. This far inland one does not usually expect to find seagulls. 

The Ring-billed gull (Larus delawarensis) is quite a common sight every year in the winter months hanging around the parking lot at the K-Mart shopping center on the corner of Anderson & Cherry Road in Rock Hill. Sometimes only about a dozen, or as many as a hundred can be found at this particular parking lot. Other mall parking lots have them as well, though only a few to a dozen at any given time. 

The Ring-billed gull is native to Canada and the northern part of the United States, though they can also be found in Western Europe as well.    

These are some of the photos I managed to get of these yearly northern visitors on Thursday, February 11th. 

I witnessed several people driving slowly through them, while the birds walked slowly out of the way, or hovered in the air while the vehicles went by. These little fellows were fearless. One group - students from the nearby Winthrop University - actually threw out half a bad of old loaf bread. The bread lasted all of a few brief seconds as the winged piranha quickly swallowed them down.   

Some people tend to feed them leftover popcorn from the local Cinema nearby, other leftover loaf bread, or scraps from the nearby fast food establishments. Some feed them bread, crackers or even popcorn from the nearby Cinema, which unfortunately is terrible for them. Any kind of white bread is the equivalent of junk food for birds that fills them up extremely fast and can lead to major health problems for these animals, including death from stomach and intestinal damage. Those who do feed these animals such foods are good-hearten, though terribly misguided.

There are other conservation issues with feeding wildlife that I somewhat agree with in certain cases - though considering that much of the local wildlife has little trouble with stealing from the food sources of outdoor pets, I kinda look the other way when it comes to leaving pet food for feral cats and dogs, or giving corn to squirrels.

I neither support, no condemn people who feed these migratory birds. I feed birds myself, though I stick with bird seed. I recommend the same for people who feed waterfowl, pigeons, ect. since birdseed, or corn is closer to their actual natural food sources.

As I drove close to the gulls they moved only slight as I parked and then got out. Some hovered as I set up my tripod and began taking photos. Aside from the few moments I felt like an extra in a certain Alfred Hitchcock film, the gulls showed no real aggressive behavior. They stood off slightly, or hovered just overhead, none too concerned about their new visitor taking photos of them. In fact, several actually seemed to enjoy the attention. 

I cannot help but wonder if some of them were the same exact birds that were hanging out in this same parking lot the year before. I can't tell, since the markings are similar and aside from bird watching my knowledge of avian psychology and behavior is limited; but I suspect that some instinct that makes the same Canadian Geese fly thousands of miles to the same ponds in the American Southland where they, or their parents, were hatched also applies to these amazing birds. 

I thanked the little winged visitors before I packed up and slowed drove by them on my way home. I plan to make a few more trips by the area in the coming month or so. Hopefully I can say hello a few more times before they leave for the year.