Based on the belief that Earth's rotation is gradually slowing, December 22, 2014 was touted by media to be the longest night in its history. However, because of geologic factors and tidal effects related to differences in the position of the moon there are irregularities that can temporarily increase the rate of rotation. Therefore, this year's Winter Solstice must take second place to the record set in the year 1912.
Winter arrived at 6:04 PM on December 21. That morning the sun rose far to the southeast, and our lake was crystal clear:
The next morning did not feel as if winter had arrived. The effects of a cold front had diminished, and it was a balmy 60 degrees F (15.5 C), with calm wind. The lake in our local wetlands reflected those conditions. Looking northwest towards the Everglades, opposite the rising sun, the sky was aglow, and the white dot of a Great Egret punctuated the landscape:
To the north, gathering clouds portended a change in the weather:
The egret's image is a bit soft because of the low light,...
...but the light's warmth added beauty as it took flight:
The previous morning, a Great Blue Heron occupied a nearby rock:
Blue-gray Gnatcatchers foraged for spiders among the Brazilian Pepper berries:
A Gray Catbird gobbled up a ripe berry:
Palm Warblers moved among the branches:
High up, an elusive Least Flycatcher briefly appeared:
A White-winged Dove peered down curiously from a Live Oak:
I am still testing my new pocket camera, a Canon SX 700 HS with a 30 power zoom lens. I used it for the landscape photos above, and tested its macro capabilities. Hand held, it captured some remarkably clear images from as close as 3/2 inch (2 centimeters). I just purchased a light-weight tripod which should improve its performance.
A tiny flower sepal:
Pepper berries look big as balloons:
A dewdrop on a blade of grass:
On the way home the little Powershot provided me with quite a sharp image of a cooperative Northern Mockingbird:
When all was said and done, we slept right through the longest night of our lives!