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Saturday, March 16, 2013

All Your Baby Bears Are Belong To Us (except, not really at all)

Hopefully the blog post caught your attention a bit and you are thinking exactly what I had hoped you would be there a sequel to Zero Wing that involves baby bears? Sadly, no, that is not the case (hey Nintendo, that would be an awesome idea though!) instead the blog title was thought up by my girlfriend Jill, who accompanied me today on a trip up to Plumpton Park Zoo in Rising Sun, Maryland.  We became Platinum members of the zoo this past week after seeing the two European Brown Bear Cubs Frankie and Ringo on the morning news this past week.  Being a Platinum member at the zoo has a TON of benefits, but perhaps the best benefit is the ability to take a behind the scenes tour with a staff member that allows you to see a lot of the animals much closer than you could at probably any other zoo (I cannot speak from experience on that, however). During the tour (led by Michelle, who was great!!) we got to meet (among other animals) a giraffe, a porcupine, a fox, two tigers, timber wolves, and we also got to see Michelle (our tour guide) interact with many of the animals as well (this was probably the only time that I will ever get a chance to see a European Brown Bear give upside down bear kisses to another human being!)  All of the photos of the other animals were taken by Jill (as my arm is still in a sling after rotator cuff/bicep tendon surgery) but the baby bear photos were taken with my Canon S100 Point and Shoot.  We will be posting photos of the other animals (including some really unique shots of tigers) in the very near future, so be sure to check back for those photos!

But, of course the absolute highlight of the tour were the bear cubs Frankie and Ringo.  The cubs were born on 8 January 2013 and are quite possibly the cutest animals that I have ever seen.  They already have some pretty big claws and try to suckle on your hand and make a noise that resembles purring.  They are already pretty adept at climbing and even took a nap in the middle of a petting time!

I want to thank the staff at the zoo for taking the time to give us the tour today and making the bears available to Jill and me for some photos (and of course some cuddle and play time).  If there is an influx of Platinum Level members the staff may not be able to schedule time for all of the new members to see the cubs but a membership is a great way to support a great cause and (potentially) have a once in a lifetime opportunity to see and pet European Brown Bear Cubs!

Michelle, the zoo manager/our tour guide

Nap Time

Inside the tall X-Pen

Owner of the zoo

I get a high paw!

Cuddle time

I want some food!

Jealousy Part I

Jealousy Part II

Nothing My Paw Can't Fix

Time for Noms!

More Noms

Starting To Fall Asleep

The link to my Google + photo album

The link to Plumpton Park Zoo

The link to my flickr album

These photos are shared via my Google+ account, so you should be able to download them and view them without any issue.  If you would like a copy/copies of these photos, please feel free to contact me (preferably  through the Email me tab at the top of the page). If you enjoyed viewing this photo, please take a moment and leave comments and/or feedback. Please also feel free to pass the link of this photo on to others if you so desire. Thanks for stopping by!!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


As you may (or may not) know, Comet PANSTARRS (C/2011 L4) is currently able to be seen for about an hour to hour and a half after sunset, although you need a spot with a good, unobstructed view of the western sky, as the comet is roughly 10 degrees above the horizon (about the size of your fist).  I searched for a good spot and found a possible candidate, Matapeake State Park which is just on the other side of the Bay Bridge in Queen Anne's County.  We visited the park on Sunday in an effort to determine if it provided a good enough view but unfortunately the western sky was cloudy just above the horizon and I was unsure if the park would provide a good enough view.

This evening the comet was a few degrees from the crescent moon, which acted as a good guide to try to find the comet. I first was able to see the sliver of the moon at about 7:25 (15 minutes after sunset) but I wasn't able to see (on the camera LCD screen) the comet in a photo until about 7:40 or so.  Unfortunately it was very windy, so unfortunately only a few shots provided a good clear shot of the comet with minimal effect from the wind and a bit of luck with a clear view through the atmosphere. The comet disappeared into the light haze from Annapolis at about 8:40. While I was lucky to get several photographs with my 70-300mm lens, I never actually was able to make out the comet with just my eyes, as it was a little too dim and a little too bright, but fortunately the camera sensor was able to see it just fine!

(Author Note: Due to the changes in the atmosphere, each shot appears slightly different.  The following 12 images are what I feel are the "best" of the approximately 300 photos that I took this evening)


Please feel free to click on the photo above to view it in various sizes. Clicking on the photo also takes you to my online gallery, hosted over at smugmug, where you can browse this (and other) photos that I have posted. If you enjoyed viewing this photo, please take a moment and leave comments and/or feedback. Please also feel free to pass the link of this photo on to others if you so desire. Thanks for stopping by!!