Manú Road is a leading birding route that begins in the city of Cusco, in what was the capital of the Inca Empire, and journeys through deep valleys, lakes and mountains all the way into the rainforest, deep in the Manú National Park of Peru. One could even think of traveling this road as a pilgrimage: while there is one starting point and one direction, there are many paths along the way and plenty of stops to admire the breadth of avifauna and flora amidst dramatic settings as one travels up and over the Andes Mountain Range down to the Amazonian plain, all of which make Manú Road a spiritual experience for sure. As one of the top ten mega-diverse countries in the world, Peru holds the second spot in number of bird species at over 1,800, and is within the top five spots in amphibians, mammals and plants. Manú Road is representative of this biodiversity.
We are accustomed to driving to our national parks. This is definitely not the case with Channel Islands National Park. This little archipelago of a half-dozen rocks jutting out of the Pacific Ocean a few miles off the coast of central California is reachable only by a short boat ride. This rather contradictory blend of remoteness and accessibility offers some unique opportunities for us photographers.
The Channel Islands are called America’s Galapagos – and for good reason. A wide variety of birds and pinnipeds are in plentiful supply. Western gulls find safety here. Continue reading →
SPONSORED- I have been an avid birder long before I was a photographer. When I finally started photographing birds autofocus was non-existent. Photographing birds in flight was just a dream, mostly I did stationary birds. As I made the transition to digital just after the turn of the century, I started getting my hopes up that I could photograph stationary and moving birds. It wasn’t until the past few years though that everything came together for me, photographing all kinds of birds moving and stationary without breaking the bank. Continue reading →
Many years ago, I was walking through a lovely old-growth stand of northern hardwoods on a glacial moraine hillside in northeastern Connecticut, conducting a bird survey for a proposed residential subdivision. With each step, my mind slipped deeper into despair over sacrificing this beautiful woodland habitat for human housing. Continue reading →
Experience has taught me to exploit compositional techniques that help my nature images take on a more compelling story-telling quality. One such technique that I employ frequently is juxtaposition. This fancy word is formed by joining the Latin root “juxta”, which translates to “next to”, to the word “position”. Compositionally speaking, this means placing the subject next to some object in order to set the stage for a compare-and-contrast scenario. In some cases it is the similarity of the subject to the secondary object, whereas in other cases it may be the difference between the two that is stressed. More often than not, what results is a more inviting look and feel to the final image. In this article, I will delve into more detail about juxtaposition and highlight some examples from my own images. Continue reading →
Black skimmers are my enigma bird. Just when I think they couldn’t possibly be around, they show up in droves. Then when I think it’s a perfect day to see some, they’re nowhere to be found. Continue reading →
The brisk spring air was punctuated by a gusty wind as I stood in breathless anticipation beside the main gates. Once inside, we stealthily crept up the steps of the permanent wooden blind where we could see silhouettes of thousands of birds blanketing the riverbed’s shallow channels and naked sandbars.
The world’s oldest surviving bird species, the sandhill crane still appears curiously archaic. With legs dangling and bent in an awkward landing posture, and neck and wings extended, it is reminiscent of the ancient pterodactyl, the extinct flying reptile. Fossilized remains of the sandhill have been found in Nebraska sediments dating from the Lower Pliocene, some nine million years ago. This has led scientists to theorize that today’s sandhill crane has remained unchanged since that long-ago epoch. Continue reading →
In an earlier column I gave praise to the seaside sparrow, a species common to the salt marshes of the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, but rarely sought after by nature photographers. This column is on one of my all-time favorite songsters: Cistothorus plaustris, the marsh wren, a denizen of freshwater and tidal brackish marshes with robust stands of bulrush, cattail and cordgrass.
The marsh wren is every bit as inconspicuous as the seaside sparrow, but two qualities make it stand out. It is curious as all get-out, and it loves to sing.
Marsh wrens have to figure you out, and they will approach as near as arm’s length to do so. Even when you can’t see them, they are likely watching you; sometimes closer than you think.
The other giveaway is its song. Once you hear the marsh wren’s bubbling repertoire of chattering melodies, you will have little trouble recognizing it on future ventures into its wetland domain. A marsh is not a marsh without the wren’s enthusiastic and rapid chatter resonating throughout the tidal landscape. And this little feathered ball of dynamism not only sings during the day, but also at all hours of the night. Continue reading →