Wyoming Wind River with Andrew Slaton

A unique wilderness experience, 7 day, remote Wyoming Landscape/ Wildlife/ Adventure Workshop. This is one of my signature workshops… and a personal favorite. In my opinion, the Wind River Range is the most beautiful wilderness area in the lower 48… and it will be our playground for nearly a week this summer! Known almost exclusively by locals, crowds will not be a problem for us! If you’re looking for solitude and a peaceful “classroom” experience, this is the workshop for you. If you are in good shape and enjoy a custom, backcountry experience, then you are in for a real treat.

Put In Bay, OH, with Ron Gaskins & Amanda Haddox

Put In Bay is just offshore from Port Clinton, Sandusky and Marblehead, Ohio, but it is a special world all its own! (Yo Ho Ho) Put In Bay is located on South Bass Island on Lake Erie, and has many attractions, such as the South Bass Island Lighthouse, Heineman’s Winery (and a bottle of Rum), the Put In Bay School, Perry’s Victory & International Peace Memorial, the Put In Bay Town Hall, the Butterfly House, Oak Point & South Bass Island State Parks and more! Oh, and one more thing…. It’s a pirate weekend! “Pyrate Fest X: X Marks the Spot!”

This is just part of a full and exciting weekend along the shores of Lake Erie, which will also include the Sandusky Historic District and Waterfront, the Merry-Go-Round Museum, the Port Clinton Lighthouse, the Trinity Aviation Museum, and the famous Marblehead Lighthouse & Keeper’s House. There will be many locations and attractions to visit as Ron and Amanda teach photography methods and techniques.

We’ll ride the ferry from the mainland to the island; we’ll travel the island on our deluxe golf carts, keeping our own schedule as we go from one location to the next. While our schedule and locations may vary, due to weather and other variables, we’ll maintain a busy pace throughout the weekend.

WHEN: June 22 – 24, 2018. All registration will close on May 22, 2018.

WHERE: Marblehead, OH, will be our center of activities, located on the shores of Lake Erie. Our workshop will include locations in Marblehead, Sandusky, Port Clinton and Put In Bay.

LODGING: We have arranged for specially priced lodging at the South Beach Resort, located in Marblehead, OH. Two lodging options are available (plus taxes & fees):
Standard Courtyard Room: Two queen beds, flat screen television, single person Jacuzzi, and a Keurig coffee maker…for $169/night.
Deluxe Queen Water View Room: Two queen beds, flat screen television, two-person Jacuzzi, walk-out patio, and a Keurig coffee maker…for $199/night.

WHO: We are welcoming 14 clients for this workshop. This is a firm limit, due to our travel accommodations.

FEE: Our regular fee will be $340.00, which includes all workshop instruction; ferry tickets, golf cart rental, admission to selected venues, and lunch on Saturday; We are also offering an “Early Bird” discount fee of just $289.00, a 15% savings, for registration made and paid by April 9, 2018, by 11:00 pm (plus taxes).

CONTACT: Please email MountaineerPhotoExcursions@gmail.com with questions or to register.

Scotland’s Isle of Sky and Highlands with Andrew Slaton

Scotland… a land of forests, mountains, rivers, sea, and waterfalls. It is easily one of the most dynamic countries on earth, and provides some of the most stunning landscapes and vignettes of nature for photographers. We will get 3 full days to explore the most scenic spots in all of the Highlands.

The next three days will be spent on the unparalleled Skye. It was dubbed “Cloud Island” by the Norse. And an apt name it is for the famous Isle of Skye in Scotland. The convergence of mountain, sea, and sky make this large island a true photographer’s paradise. The saying is more true here than anywhere I’ve been that “if you don’t like the weather, wait 5 minutes.” For us photographers, dramatic weather is what we like, and that is exactly what you get on Skye!

Pipestem Resort State Park with Amanda Haddox and Ron Gaskins

West Virginia is Almost Heaven, and some of the most beautiful sights are located within our State Parks! We’ll be exploring Pipestem Resort State Park, as well as Bluestone Lake State Park, and some other special locations along the way!

Pipestem Resort in southern West Virginia will be our base for the weekend, with discounted rooms at the Lodge, which also has a fine restaurant and meeting space for us. The Lodge overlooks the Bluestone Gorge, and the Bolar Lookout Tower at 3,000 feet provides an inspiring view, as well. It’s not uncommon to see eagles at Pipestem, and we’ll also trek to Bluestone State Park, where Park Naturalist, Julie McQuade, has recently spotted eagles! We will also visit the historic community of Bramwell, where coal barons built lavish mansions during the coal boom; and we’ll feature a visit to the abandoned Lake Shawnee Amusement Park, as well as some additional attractions.

Amanda Haddox and Ron Gaskins, our Instructors, will provide techniques and share their experience throughout our weekend! It will be an exciting and full one, with many locations to see and opportunities to learn.

Anza Borrego with Sandy Zelasko and Barbara Swanson

Anza Borrego Desert State Park (ABDSP), located within the Colorado Desert of southern California, is the largest state park in California and second largest in the contiguous United States. It is a diverse and fascinating landscape with over 600,000 acresacres to explore, many unique microclimates and environs. Perfect for the nature photographer.

This workshop has carefully been developed to introduce you to different photographic possibilities in and around Anza Borrego Desert State Park. It will be an intense weekend of photo related themes, including but not limited to, macro techniques, night photography, wildlife possibilities, historical references and critique sessions with post processing discussion.

Your workshop leaders, Sandy and Barbara, have intimate knowledge of the park in all seasons. Participation is limited to 8 so we can offer a high level of personal attention and instruction.

Thanks for consideration! To view the itinerary visit http://www.investinnature.org/borrego-itinerary-final.pdf.

Wood Thrushes- Nature’s Flutes

Story and photo by Budd Titlow

A wood thrush takes a bath in a cool mountain stream. © Budd Titlow

A wood thrush takes a bath in a cool mountain stream. © Budd Titlow

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

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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WE’RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER, by Cathy and Gordon Illg

The plant is communicating with the flies, calling them to pollinate its blossoms. © Gordon and Cathy Illg

The plant is communicating with the flies, calling them to pollinate its blossoms. © Gordon and Cathy Illg

There’s always something new under the sun. There are always surprises waiting for us in the most unlikely places. Recent studies are showing plants may be far more than the yard decorations and colorful picture elements we’ve taken them for. These beings that we’ve always considered to be merely ground cover are capable of movement, communication–yes, they can talk to their neighbors–and even arithmetic–some species need to know the hours of darkness and calculate if they have enough starch to survive the night. Charles Darwin recognized intelligent, purposeful movement in plants, and he even wrote a book on it. The scientific community ignored his findings for more than 120 years. Continue reading

This Birding Life by Budd Titlow

Sage Grouse Males Fighting © Budd Titlow

Sage Grouse Males Fighting © Budd Titlow

This Birding Life is a new monthly column by NANPA Member Budd Titlow.

SAGE GROUSE – Happy Hour on the High Plains

Image and Story By Budd Titlow

Sometimes Mother Nature provides a perfect microcosm of human life.

Many years ago, I was invited to observe an annual ritual that had all the elements of happy hour at your favorite neighborhood bar. Totally full of themselves, the males were strutting around in tight circles with their hairless chests puffed out. As they walked, they repeatedly made burping and belching sounds while aggressively posturing toward any other males that came too close to their domains. Meanwhile, all of the females skittered demurely in, out, around, and through all of the absurdly displaying males—acting as if the showboats didn’t exist.

Rather than watching patrons in a dark, after-work bar, I was driving along a Colorado high mountain sagebrush prairie at sunrise next to a “lek,” which is, appropriately enough, the Swedish word for “play.” And the clientele I was observing were chicken-sized wild birds known as sage grouse.

The largest grouse in North America, sage grouse live on the high plains of the American West—at elevations of four thousand to nine thousand feet—including populations in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, South Dakota, North Dakota, Nevada, Utah, eastern California, and western Colorado.

Like many wildlife mating rituals, the “dancing” of the male sage grouse around a lek is all about influencing female choice. Leks are circular open areas in dense stands of sagebrush where sage grouse have been performing every February through April for eons. Here, male sage grouse spend their time puffing out their large colorful breast sacs and proudly displaying their sharply pointed tail feathers while aggressively defending their territories—leaping high in the air with feet and spurs fully extended and striking out at their nearest competitors for feminine attention.

While the female sage grouse pretend that they don’t notice, in the end, only the males with the showiest exhibitions—typically less than 5 percent of those trying—mate with all the females. After a few hours, the losing males skulk off to recoup their grouse-hood in hopes of faring better when the next day’s dances begin.

Because they tend to be such show-offs, sage grouse are the subject of many tales—both tall and otherwise—told far and wide in the high plateaus of their Rocky Mountain homeland. Many western riders swear that sage grouse sit hidden in their sagebrush hollows secretly plotting the precise moment to burst up with wings beating wildly askew in front of horses galloping across the open range. The result of this supposed comic plotting is of course that the horses rear up, violently tossing their hooves and manes wildly and summarily flinging their riders—derrieres first—into the nearest clumps of sagebrush.

Unfortunately, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service now lists the sage grouse as a “candidate species” for protection under the federal Endangered Species Act. The primary reason for the decline of this species is the wholesale loss of its high plains habitat throughout much of its native range.

A Professional Wetland Scientist (Emeritus) and Wildlife Biologist, Budd Titlow is also an international/national award-winning nature photographer and a widely-published writer/author. Throughout his career, Budd has shared his love of photography and nature by presenting seminars, workshops, and field trips Nationwide. He has also authored four books: BIRD BRAINS – Inside the Strange Minds of Our Fine Feathered Friends (ISBN 978-0-7627-8755-5), SEASHELLS – Jewels from the Ocean (ISBN 978-0-7603-2593-3), ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK- Beyond Trail Ridge (ISBN 0-942394-22-4), and ENVIRONMENTAL SUPERHEROES: Now Climate Change Needs A New One (In Press). Budd’s work is featured on his web site (www.buddtitlow.com).

NATURE’S VIEW: Photographing the Virginia Rail of Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, Story and photographs by Jim Clark

The notes of the rail came loudly to my ear, and on moving toward the spot whence they proceeded, I observed the bird exhibiting the full ardor of his passion. Each time it passed before her, it would pause for a moment…and bow to her with all the grace of a well-bred suitor of our own species.—John James Audubon, 1840

What Audubon witnessed is something most folks will never see as this secretive marsh bird is heard more than it is seen. In 1926, ornithologist Arthur Cleveland Bent wrote this about how to see a Virginia rail: “Take up one’s station near a pond or marsh frequented by them and watch patiently, silently, and immobile….” Wow, patience. What a concept.

Virginia rail at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, Maryland.

Virginia rail at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, Maryland.

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