Spring

A few weeks ago a pair of Carolina Wrens had built a nest in a flower pot on the patio. Soon there were three eggs, and thinking it’d be helpful to shield the nest from the high traffic area near the door, the plant stand was moved to the other side of the patio a few feet away. Unexpectedly, the wren seemed to have problems locating the bright red flowers and abandoned the nest.  So the planter was moved back to the original spot and over the next three days the total of eggs grew to 6!  Wrens will sit on the nest for about two weeks, but about a week later a strong storm came through and toppled the plant stand. The three new eggs were on the ground in the driving rain.  So I did my best to put things back in order and the wren came back later in the day and continued sitting. Somewhat miraculously, two of the eggs still managed to hatch.  I took a series of photos of the nest as the days passed, with both the male and female continuously bringing food for the growing chicks.  Today they fledged and only the original three eggs were left inside.  Wrens will often lay two or three broods, so we’ll see if they reuse the nest in the next few days.  Happy Spring!

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Botswana

Southern Giraffe, Okavango Delta, Botswana

A Southern Giraffe with her calf watch from a clearing, Okavango Delta, Botswana

Recently I took a safari trip to Botswana in Southern Africa.  It was at the height of the Ebola scare, but the portion of the trip I dreaded was the 16 1/2 hour flight between Atlanta and Johannesburg.  At some point, the plane’s pilot mentioned it was the second longest commercial flight in the world,  so I made a mental note to avoid that one longer flight if ever given the chance.  From South Africa, it was only a couple more hours north to Botswana.  Once the logistics of getting to the camps were over, the lodges were very comfortable given the remoteness of the areas visited.  It was the start of the rainy season, and the Linyanti River area near the Namibia border was starting to transition quickly to a greener, more dense landscape. Continue reading

Smokies Spring

The Smoky Mountains in Spring are usually a safe bet for a productive photography trip.  From the heavier flowing falls, the wildflowers and possible sightings of recently born animals, there are plenty of subjects to focus a lens on.

Middle Prong River, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

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Lady Killers

Grizzly Bear, Denali National Park, Alaska

Grizzly Bear searching for a moose, Denali National Park, Alaska

If you have the National Geographic Wild channel on your local cable, an episode recently aired (airing again February 9, 2014) and is available, at least on Comcast,  in the On-Demand section for the show “World’s Deadliest Animals”.  The episode “Lady Killers” includes an edited two minutes from about 30 minutes of footage I shot in Denali National Park of a moose defending her two calves from a grizzly.   It starts about 7 minutes into the show right after the “Moose” transition.  More details are included on the National Geographic website at the link below.http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/wild/worlds-deadliest/episodes/lady-killers/

Gulf Islands National Seashore

Least Tern, Gulf Islands National Seashore, Florida

Least Tern sitting on a nest, Gulf Islands National Seashore, Florida (cropped)

May has been a good time in the past to photograph nesting birds along the coasts of Florida.  A favorite of mine are black skimmers due to their atypical looks and interesting flight while they glide over the water searching for food.  So I had hoped to find large numbers at Gulf Islands National Seashore as has been the case before.   Unfortunately that wasn’t the result this year.  Later during my visit I spoke to a park ranger who said that a couple years ago a coyote or other predator had done some serious damage to the nesting area so the birds have set up camp several miles west. You can still find the Least Terns (threatened species) nesting, but due to their small size and aggressive protection of their nesting areas (they tend to dive bomb people if you happen to wander too close), it’s much more difficult to get good images without potentially disturbing or overly stressing them.  Fortunately there was other wildlife to see in this section of Santa Rosa Island.

Osprey, Gulf Islands National Seashore, Florida

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