Yellowstone/Teton In Winter with Gordon and Cathy Illg

Come photograph the best of Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Parks in winter! We’ll spend 6 days with iconic features and wildlife, including the National Elk Refuge, staying overnight in Old Faithful Village & the wildlife-rich Lamar Valley.

“Bosque Wildlife” at Bosque del Apache NWR with Sandy Zelasko and Irene Hinke-Sacilotto

Situated along the Rio Grande River, Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge covers more than 57,000 acres and is a major wintering ground for cranes and waterfowl. Refuge personnel manage the water levels of its wetlands and impoundments to simulate what was once the seasonal flow of water from the Rio Grande before the river was damned and the flow altered. To feed the huge number of birds visiting the refuge each year, nearby fields are planted with corn, winter wheat, millet, and other grains. Loop roads transect the refuge marshes and fields and provide prime sites for wildlife viewing and photography. Species that may be seen include shovelers, buffleheads, pintails, teal and other ducks; bald and golden eagles; kestrels and other hawks; turkey; meadowlarks; quail; roadrunners; coyotes; mule deer; and more. In November, large flocks of snow geese and sandhill cranes will be present. At night to escape predators, the birds flock to the marshes and shallow pools. With dawn, the snow geese and other waterfowl rise in mass from the wetlands and sweep overhead on their way to nearby fields to feed. Each day we will spend the early morning and late afternoon hours at the refuge photographing birds and many other species of wildlife which are present at the sanctuary.

A tale of two brothers

Text and photography by Teri Franzen

Life in the African bush is hard for prey animals and apex predators (those at the top of the food chain) alike.  Ungulates (hooved animals) such as zebras, gazelles and wildebeest are constantly wary and keeping watch to ensure they don’t fall victim as food for one of the countless predators that share their territory.  Predators fight among themselves over that same territory.  Lions will fight to take control of existing prides.  They will also fight to drive off other predators, like cheetahs, sharing the same space.  Very often these battles have grim results for the victims.

During my recent trip to Ndutu in northern Tanzania (eastern Africa) we saw many cheetah families living in the Makao plains.  Among them were two bachelor brothers that we had hoped to encounter during our journeys.  With a top speed approaching 70 miles per hour, cheetahs are the fastest land animals in the world.  They can maintain this speed for approximately 500 yards.  As a singular animal a cheetah is capable of chasing down and capturing smaller prey, a favorite being a Thomson’s gazelle.  Adult male cheetahs often form coalitions with siblings.  When teamed up they are capable of bringing down much larger prey, like wildebeest.  We wanted to see this two-male coalition in action.

On January 31, during our morning game drive we happened upon a lone cheetah that had climbed onto a fallen tree.  It started calling and before we identified the gender we suspected a female calling for her young.  As we looked more closely we realized it was a male and that it was injured.  His mouth was wounded and his elbows rubbed raw.   This was one of the brothers, only his sibling was nowhere in sight.  Our best guess was that the two cheetahs had been victims of a lion attack during the night.  Either the second male had been killed or severely injured, or he escaped and ran in another direction.

Injured cheetah searching for his brother.

A closer look at his mouth injury.

The wounded cheetah wandered from tree to tree, sniffing for signs of his brother and then sending a stream of his own urine toward the tree.  Like all cats, cheetahs have a keen sense of smell and can identify an individual by its unique scent.  During this time he called continuously with a forlorn cry, presumably with the hope of vocally contacting his sibling.  Occasionally he would leap onto a fallen tree to search and call from a higher vantage point.  Allowing enough distance to avoid interference we followed the lone male for over an hour.  During that time his pace was constant, his conviction never faltered. Continue reading

A feeling is worth a thousand pictures

Story and photography by Tim Irvin

We were deep in the Great Bear Rainforest of British Columbia, Canada (about 500 miles northwest of Seattle), the home of the white spirit bear. Before us was what we had hoped for. The bear had accepted our presence and was now perched on a rock mid-stream scanning the creek for salmon. Her white fur was wet from overnight rain and steam rose from her back in the morning sun. It was like a scene from National Geographic television – only this was live.

Spirit bears (also known as Kermode bears) are an exceedingly rare sub-species of American black bear with a recessive genetic trait that makes their fur white. There are perhaps only 200 to 400 in existence and they are found only in British Columbia's Great Bear Rainforest. © Tim Irvin

Spirit bears (also known as Kermode bears) are an exceedingly rare sub-species of American black bear with a recessive genetic trait that makes their fur white. There are perhaps only 200 to 400 in existence and they are found only in British Columbia’s Great Bear Rainforest. © Tim Irvin

Our group of photographers and nature buffs was thrilled. Between snapping photos we glanced at each other – smiling widely, giving each other the thumbs up. We never could have imagined this exact scene beforehand, but the hope of being part of something like this was why we had come. Continue reading

Getting to know you; A year-long project

Story and photography by Kathy Lichtendahl

I admit it…I am spoiled by where I live. Northwest Wyoming, with its easy access to the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, is a nature photographer’s paradise. In the summer months I can be in Lamar Valley within two hours. In early winter, an hour’s drive south puts me in range to capture that magnificent moment when two bighorn rams collide with incredible force and in spring I have the joy of photographing young pronghorn and elk literally in my backyard.

Heart Mountain, October 24, 2016 © Kathy Lichtendahl

Heart Mountain, October 24, 2016
© Kathy Lichtendahl

But even in this amazing environment, there are those months when the photo doldrums set in and I wonder if I will ever get another opportunity to shoot something that makes my heart beat a little bit faster. That is why, every January 1, I try to come up with a personal photo project instead of the typical New Year’s resolution. I started this practice a couple years ago when I felt the need for a challenge to get me through the long cold months that stretched to spring. Continue reading

THIS BIRDING LIFE: Sandhill Cranes Blanketing the Sky & Land

Story and photo by Budd Titlow

A pair of Sandhill cranes feeding in a marshy wetland. © Budd Titlow

A pair of sandhill cranes feeding in a marshy wetland. © Budd Titlow

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

Secrets for Capturing Stunning Photographs of Birds

Story and Photos by Melissa Groo

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© Melissa Groo

Enjoy this Interview with Melissa Groo who will be judging NANPA’s View Bug photo contest- Birds Of A Feather Photo Contest- open now for submissions. Melissa is an award-winning wildlife photographer, writer, teacher and speaker. She writes a regular column on wildlife photography for Outdoor Photographer magazine, and her photos have been published in many magazines, including Smithsonian, Audubon, and National Wildlife. Issues of conservation and ethics in photography are passions for her, but more than anything, she loves revealing the soul of her wild subjects and sharing that with others. Continue reading

How the NANPA Program Impacted Me

Story and Photography by Jorel Cuomo

Screen Shot 2016-03-16 at 9.52.49 PMWhen I attended NANPA’s High School Scholarship Program (NHSSP) in 2004 in Portland, my eyes opened to exploring wildlife photography as a medium. I greatly benefited from the one-on-one instruction and support of fellow photographers, both peers and mentors. Before attending this program, I never knew all this support existed; I felt that I was exploring nature and my camera by myself. Being a scholarship winner gave me the opportunity to harness my potential. Being surrounding by world-class photographers that shared their knowledge and experience opened my eyes to the possibilities that awaited me in our magnificent world.

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A SURPRISE PARTNERSHIP: COYOTE AND BADGER by Kathy Lichtendahl

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February 2013

I live in Wyoming. Anyone who has visited the state knows it has a lot of open space. What many people don’t realize is that the area in which I live – the northwest part of Wyoming – is almost always drier and more temperate than that to the south. So when I finished several days of meetings in Casper a couple years ago, I was anxious to make the 5-hour drive home to my own bed despite the dire warnings of an incoming snow storm. I knew that if I could make it the hundred miles across the sagebrush plains and then north through Wind River Canyon, I would probably leave the worst of the winter weather behind me. Before leaving the city, I consciously packed my camera gear in the back of the car, not wanting the temptation to stop along the way.

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