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on Jun 23, 2009 in Biological Tips

Northern Hawk Owls

Reprinted from the BT Journal, Vol. 6, Issue 2, May, 2001 “It’s an INVASION!!!” he exclaimed. I’d just gotten off the plane, Pro Trekker on my back, Eagle Creek Monster Trunk in one hand and Lowepro Madison 1100 computer case balanced atop the Lowepro Pro Roller 2 in the other hand as my good friend Arthur Morris greeted me with overwhelming excitement. We had met in Nome, Alaska to photograph birds in June of 2000, venturing there primarily for the fabulous shorebirds in breeding plumage. The last thing either one of us expected or planned on was an invasion! Artie went on to say, “there are 14 Northern Hawk Owls here; they haven’t been here in nearly 80 years!” Now I’ve seen hawk owls for years in Alaska and for one reason or another, every time I had an opportunity to take their photo something would happen so I would end up getting skunked. Artie’s news didn’t excite me much, knowing my previous track record with hawk owls and...

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on Jun 23, 2009 in Biological Tips

Winter Shorebird Basics

Reprinted from the BT Journal, Vol. 7, Issue 4, August 2002 The sun hints of its arrival in the east with a soft glow of color. The air is quiet and damp with the night air still clinging to the surrounding landscape. From the brightening sky, the pond in the distance becomes apparent as we stroll in that direction. Dark shapes can be seen in the pond like mere puffs on a stick, standing in mass on one edge of the pond. The light slowly brings definition to the shapes and we can see it’s a small flock of Least Sandpipers. They’ve spent the night in the water, a natural intruder alarm sounding should a predator try to make an approach during the night. And now the light is just right for photographing this sleepy little flock. They begin to stir as a wave of wing-stretches spread amongst the flock. It’s the beginning of a perfect morning of photographing winter shorebirds. Surprisingly, many wildlife photographers do not haunt shorebird...

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on Jun 23, 2009 in Biological Tips

Just Humming Along

Reprinted from the BT Journal, Issue 3, August 2002 While sitting at the breakfast nook at my aunts when I was perhaps 8 or 9 years old, I noticed this miniature nest just outside the window. As I ate my cereal, this tiniest of birds would buzz into the nest, feeding an even smaller mouth, gaping wide open. And then in a heartbeat the little bird would buzz away. I sat enthralled that morning while watching this small miracle of life! Later that same day as I played in the garden, I saw a flash of red that is still burned into my memory as it darted from flower to flower and then away, being chased by another flash of red. My love affair with hummingbirds goes back much further than my love affair with photography. But as you’ll see, these two passions most certainly did merge together! Hummingbirds are a New World species so you will only find them in the Americas. There are approximately 18 species of...

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on Jun 23, 2009 in Biological Tips

The Home of Oomingmak

Reprinted from the BT Journal, Vol. 7, Issue 2, May 2002 I’m sitting on an Alaska flight, heading to the Arctic while reading Ordeal by Hunger, the story of the Donner Party, when it dawns on me the irony. I left snow at my home; I’m heading for snow, reading about people who perished in snow. But for me, I know I’m going to be guided by someone who has lived, worked, studied and photographed on the North Slope with great passion for nearly three decades. While with the wind chill it probably reached well below zero, I was in good hands! I was afraid our scheduled week of exploration would be too brief for the slope, as I was incredibly excited about fulfilling a lifetime dream of venturing to this land. I was not let down with the time I spent at the home of the Bearded Ones! Back in 2001, my good friend David Neel, Jr. had invited me up to a very special place on the...

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on Jun 23, 2009 in Biological Tips

How To Get Close

Reprinted from the BT Journal, Vol. 7, Issue 1, February 2002 It’s February and there’s snow on the ground at my home. The XC skis are in the back of the truck all the time; snowball fights are a way of life. Yet I can’t help that my mind races to the sands of Florida when I sit back and clear my thoughts. Don’t get me wrong, I like snow and don’t wish to escape it. Rather, I long to be out with my long lens over my shoulder, feeling sand between my toes as I photograph wading birds. I have always found “wading birds”, a generalization for herons, egrets, ibises and storks, to be rather comical. When I hear the term wading bird, I think of some cartoon character pulling up its skirt of feathers as it tiptoes through the water. Perhaps comical at times, these birds are some of the most graceful members of the avian world. Like most wildlife photographers, one of my first subjects was...

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on Jun 23, 2009 in Biological Tips

Photographing Wading Birds

Like most wildlife photographers, one of my first subjects was a Great Blue Heron. That pathetic image of a lone GBH, dead centered, perched on a boat buoy a thousand miles away still resides in my files as a reminder of my beginnings. One of North America’s most common and recognizable birds, the Great Blue Heron is also one of the most poorly photographed birds over and over again. The very nature of the heron, tall, vertical, living in a watery world and in many locations, incredibly shy, all lend themselves to poor results. Regrettably the time I have with these beautiful birds is limited, they just don’t haunt my typical locales. But over the decades, I‘ve gotten my feet wet more than once, photographing the Great Blue Heron and other members of the wading bird family. The successes I’ve had and my switch to all digital combined with my desire to improve all my conventional files in digital, keep me striving to improve my wading bird files. These...

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