Archive for the ‘USA’ Category

Three hours on Alcatraz.

Posted: November 21, 2019 in California, History, USA

Reminds me of my last visit to SanFrancisco about 12 years ago when Sue and I visited the Island. So close to the city yet there are no records of a successful escape, only 1 prisoner who escaped and was never recaptured, but he is presumed to have drowned in the bay. Despite its location very lonely and very atmospheric.



No trip to San Francisco would be complete without a visit to Alcatraz Island. Just over a mile offshore it is windswept and battered by swift tides.

Alcatraz was a federal prison that housed some of the countries most dangerous criminals including Al Capone and Machine Gun Kelly. Since its closure in 1963 it began to fall into disrepair but this and its location led to its becoming a major tourist attraction.

We caught the ferry from Pier 33 for the short crossing to the island and did the guided audio tour. We were able to look at the very basic cells.



Outside there was a bare recreation area from where you could catch a tantalising glimpse of the mainland. So near yet so far away.




It was a fascinating tour. Part history and part Hollywood with clips from the Clint Eastwood film.

But, three hours was quite enough time…

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Today in 1902 Thomas Tally reportedly opened the first permanent movie theatre in the USA on S Main, Los Angeles. Although movies had been shown prior to this date, Tally had been operating in Los Angeles since 1896, this was the first time they had been shown in a building dedicated to showing movies.
Tally’s claim to the first dedicated movie theatre has been challenged as some researchers say records show that a dedicated movie theatre had existed in both New York and Buffalo since 1896.

Thomas Tally (1915)
By The Moving Picture World – The Moving Picture World, July 10, 1915 (page 263), Public Domain,

In 1912 he was the first exhibitor to show a colour film in Los Angeles. Tally was also involved in an early organisation distributing films between exhibitors in major American cities.

Amazing photographs of amazing wildlife. I just love those Burrowing Owls!

It often strikes me how all it takes is getting outside and looking around a little to observe something unusual, different or completely new. Nearly every walk, even on those slow days, turns up at least one new creature or behavior I’ve rarely or never seen at some point along the way. While sometimes I’ll […]

via Always Something — Natural Moments

Bald Eagle

Posted: May 28, 2018 in Birds, Natural History, USA

Brings back memories of the only one I have ever seen in the wild during a trip to Minneapolis and the wonderful national park situated in the river valley on the city edge. What a magnificent bird!

40 An America Bald Eagle that I found along the banks of the Susquehanna River back in August of 2016. I have not gotten close enough to one this year to get any usable shots.

via Bald Eagle #40 — talainsphotographyblog

The First McDonalds

Posted: May 15, 2018 in California, History, USA

Today marks the 78th anniversary of the opening of the first McDonalds store in San Bernadino, California. It was the first of 36,615 outlets (and still rising) around the world. Richard and Maurice McDonald has previously run a hot dog stand and decided to open a store specialising in BBQ, McDonald’s Bar-B-Q. Within 10 years they had revamped the menu and the BBQ was gone and the focus was on hamburgers. They dropped the reference to bar-b-q in the name and it became known as McDonald’s.

The first McDonald’s restaurant in San Bernadino



Posted: April 17, 2018 in Birds, Natural History, USA

The Bufflehead is an attractive small sea duck of the Americas. The name is derived from buffalo-head, a comment on its rather large bulbous head. It winters on the East and West coasts of North America and breeds in Alaska and Canada, where it uses cavities in trees previously excavated by birds such as woodpeckers.

Unlike a number of other sea ducks, which are showing a decline, the population of Buffleheads appears to be remaining fairly constant at this time.

Sometimes we wish we didn’t have Grey squirrels in the garden or at least they wouldn’t come to the feeding station. They gorge all the nuts etc and can clean out the feeders in quick time before the birds get a chance. But then I saw this post – at least I only have squirrels to worry about!

Trying to feed birds in Ashland can be unBEARable. My friend Lee French is a Great Gray Owl afficinado, a builder of superb GGO nest platforms, builder of fine bird houses. Yet he has stopped putting out bird feeders in his garden. Here’s why:Most reasonable, regimented bears are largely nocturnal. Inside the Ashland city limits […]


Boston Tea Party

Posted: December 14, 2017 in History, USA

By W.D. Cooper -“Boston Tea Party.”, The History of North America. 1789.Engraving.  Library of Congress. Public Domain,

The Tea Act of 1773 imposed a tax on imported tea, designed by the British Government to aid the financial failings of The East India Company. This was very controversial and unpopular amongst the people of the British Colonies. At the end of November 1773, the first tea ship of the season arrived in Boston Harbour. The locals refused to unload the cargo and demanded that it return home together with its cargo. On December 16, the ship was still in dock and a crowd formed at the Old South Meeting House, among its leaders was Samuel Adams. Angry, the crowd moved towards the docks and dozens of men boarded the 3 tea ships then in the harbour and dumped hundreds of chests of tea into the water. In Boston, it was seen as striking a blow for the liberty of the colonies. In Britain however, it was regarded as lawless vandalism. The consequences were hard as the port of Boston was closed until the city had repaid the cost of the tea and as a result of their action all power was taken away from town meetings and juries and placed in hands of the Governor. Changes were also made to the legal code which enabled people to be tried in loyalist towns regardless of where a crime had been committed – making prosecution more likely. Ultimately these acts drove an even wider wedge between the colonists and the British authorities and made war between the two more likely.

Copy of lithograph by Sarony & Major, 1846 [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Fondly remember these guys from my visits to California



A male Anna’s Hummingbird watching over his territory. These shoots are all so from California.


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Shortly after posting that excellent picture of Anna’s Hummingbird yesterday, I came across these pictures which if not mistaken were taken on our trip to Monteray bay in California 8 years ago.

Brown Pelican

Brown Pelican

Californian Sea-Lions

Californian Sea-Lions

Brown Pelican

Brown Pelican

That was a memorable trip which included visiting the most northerly wintering site for Monarch butterflies.

Monarch butterfly

Monarch butterfly

Monarch Butterflies

Monarch Butterflies