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The Newfoundland Iceberg Show

Nearly every late spring and summer Icebergs calved from the Greenland Icecap head South in the currents down the East coast of Newfoundland.

Icebergs from the Greenland Icecap pass Newfoundland

This was a major attraction for our visit to Newfoundland in Canada.

The largest Iceberg we saw

My first encounter with icebergs happened a very long time ago, when I was 17 years old. I had been selected to participate in a kayak expedition to Southeast Greenland. So flying in at midnight the bergs were illuminated with the sweet light from the sun. For the next seven weeks we kayaked in the fiords filled with Icebergs.

For our visit to Newfoundland we started in the very Southeast and worked our way up the various peninsulas on the east coast. We saw icebergs at every coastal stop!

Group of Icebergs near Twillingate, NL

Some we visited on a boat trip,

On our boat trip (note the largest berg we saw is on the horizon)

most we saw from the land and on one special occasion a local fisherman who we were talking with spontaneously took us around some trapped in a bay in his small fishing boat.

Icebergs, Toogood Arm, NL

Although most had these beautiful shades of blue coming through the snow that has been compacted into ice for centuries, my preference has been to produce my photographs as black and white images.

One noticeable feature were the veins of vivid clear blue ice. This is where a fissure in the glacier had more recently been filled with water which froze rapidly.

The other detail is that the erosion or melting is performed by the water. Yes there is a minimal amount caused by the sun, but the shapes and textures of the bergs are a result of the water. When a piece breaks off, the iceberg rotates in the water around its new centre of gravity, thus exposing new areas that had previously been under water.

Textures and surfaces created by water erosion

One thing we did learn was that most of the locals would use a lump of glacier to cool their cocktails as it was very slow to melt (and thus not dilute the drink too much!)

We also came across a micro brewery who produced a larger called “Iceberg” with an ingredient of iceberg water!

Gear: Nikon D4s, Nikon D800, Nikon GP-1, Nikon MB-D12, Nikkor 600.0mm f.4 VR II, Nikkor 80.0-400.0mm F/4.5-5.6 VR III, Nikkor Tc-17 EII, Nikkor TC-14 EII, RRS TVC-34L, RRS Full Gimbal Head, Lexar Digital Film

Puffins – Aren’t They Just Gorgeous?

Puffins are so Adorable!

One of the great opportunities when visiting Newfoundland in Canada is to go to Elliston on the east coast and see the nesting Atlantic Puffin (Fratercula arctica) colony. We were there very early in the Season and these cute little birds were just arriving for their 3 months of the year on land to breed.

In fact when we arrived at our first campground in Newfoundland we could see the Witless Bay Islands Park Reserve, an island just offshore and although we had only just parked our rig we grabbed some binoculars and saw what must have been 20,000 puffins circling around the island, in the sea at the base of the island and on the side of the island facing us. It was late in the day so I said first thing tomorrow out comes the big lens and I will shoot me some puffins!

Sadly all had disappeared. The glorious, warm and sunny day that we arrived in had turned very cold and very windy. So the puffins that had just come in went back to their familiar environment – the sea!

When we visited Elliston it was sunny, but very windy. The waves were crashing on the rocks below us, the icebergs in the bay were scooting across and there were very few puffins to be seen.

Elliston Iceberg
One of the Few

However, I was very lucky to catch two male puffins having a territorial dispute. They would stand in adjacent burrows swearing at each other, fly up and bump their chests then grab each others’ beaks.

Neighbourhood Dispute

This squabble went on for about 15 minutes, then subsided for a few minutes,

End of Round 1

then resumed.

Round 2

It ended with them still entwined free falling off of the cliff and separating just before they hit the waves.

We decided to return the next afternoon to see whether more puffins had come in and were rewarded by hundreds on the top of the rock

Puffins Coming In
Puffins Started Coming In

and circling around the rock. They would take off in their pairs, circle round and land again at the same place in their pairs.

A Pair of Puffins Inbound

Quite a spectacle to see.

We were also lucky to see a few Black Guillemots (Cepphus grylle) arrive and tuck themselves in on the rock face.

Black Guillemot on Cliff

Gear: Nikon D4s, Nikkor 600mm f/4 VRII, Nikkor TC-17 EII, RRS TVC-34L, RRS Full Gimbal Head, Lexar Digital Film.

Friday the 13th

Are you superstitious? Frankly I am not, but when it comes to Wildlife Photography, we had been skunked a lot lately. We had a whale watching tour from Forillon National Park and saw no whales. The operator had the policy that if you don’t see any whales and you are still in the area you could be “wait listed” for another tour. We were successful on our wait list and had the last two seats two days later. But still no whales!

We had been to a couple of “Parc Nationale” (really provincial) in Quebec and still no wildlife.

So we are near the L’Isle-Verte Migratory Bird Sanctuary looking for something to shoot. Driving through the area and stopping to look. We asked a local and he pointed to an area where we should see some American Black Ducks (Anas rubrite) which would be a first for us. So we drove to the car park for the trail and cautiously started the trail. The first thing we learnt was that these ducks were hyper-sensitive and all we saw was their departing rears.

Fleeing American Black Ducks

However, we did spot some shorebirds, always one of my delights, and started working a threesome of Greater Yellowlegs (Tringa melanoleuca).

Trio of Greater Yellowlegs
Inbound – Greater Yellowlegs

Then, on a narrow, weedy, low bar into the marsh there were some other shorebirds.

Greater Yellowlegs and Pectoral sandpiper

At first I could not identify the birds, but probably a sandpiper. There were two adults and two smaller versions – their young. Good old Sibley’s on the iPhone soon let us know that we were looking at Pectoral Sandpipers (Calidris melanomas) for the first time! And right next to them was a Wilson’s Snipe (Galliago delicate).

Pectoral Sandpipers and Wilson’s Snipe
Adult and young Pectoral Sandpipers with Wilson’s Snipe

It is always good to see a new species, but it is always a thrill to see a snipe!

Then Louise, my spotter, said that there were more birds just to the right of the group I was working. So I swung the camera round and yes, there was a group of three Wilson’s Snipes. So we think we were looking at two adult and two young snipes. Even thinking about it now is thrilling!

Trio of Wilson’s Snipes. Adult and two young?
Trio of Wilson’s Snipes. Adult and young?

My first snipe was a Common Snipe (Gallinago gallinago) in Churchill, Manitoba while on a workshop with Moose Peterson. He said that it was only the second time in his career that he had got glass on a Common Snipe. During the visit the sound of the wingbeats drove Louise crazy as she knew where the sound was coming from but could not see the snipe! So the snipes are always special to Louise and me.

So in the end, what a Friday the 13th we had!

Gear: Nikon D4s, Nikkor 600mm f/4 VRII, Nikkor TC-17 EII, Nikon GP-1, RRS TVC-34L, RRS Full Gimbal Head, Lexar Digital Film

Birds Seen for the First Time

Here are some photographs of new birds for my list so far this year. They have been shot exclusively in Texas and Southern Arizona. There are many beautiful areas and wildlife preserves down here and it is my delight to make the most of them when I can.

Black-throated Sparrow (Amphispiza bilineata)

These images were shot in the following locations:

  • Laguna Atascosa NWR, TX
  • Edinburg Scenic Wetlands, TX
  • Quinta Mazatlan, McAllen, TX
  • Patagonia Lake State Park, AZ

Gear:

Nikon D4s, GP-1, Nikkor 600.0mm f/4 VR II, Nikkor TC-17 EII, RRS L-plate for D4s, RRS TVC-34L Tripod with Full Gimbal Head, Lexar Digital Film

Black Bears on the Beach




We have seen Black Bears (Ursus americana) in several National Parks (Denali, Yellowstone, Glacier) and places in between.

But this was the first time seeing them on the beach.  There was a Sow demonstrating the process to her cub.

Black Bear Sow Turning Over Large Rock Looking for Lunch

and the Yearling Cub demonstrating listening and watching Mother…

Wildlife photography from Archipeligo Wildlfe Cruise, British Columbia, Canada

Wildlife photography from Archipeligo Wildlfe Cruise, British Columbia, Canada

Wildlife photography from Archipeligo Wildlfe Cruise, British Columbia, Canada

working their way along the beach to find their lunch.  They were turning over large rocks, well smaller ones for Junior, and eating the crabs they found underneath the rocks.

They unhurriedly made their was along the beach, aware of us, but completely unaffected by our presence.

Black Bear Sow and Cub Lunching on the Beach

We have to thank Al and Toddy of Archipelago Cruises for such an excellent day – couldn’t have done it without them.  This cruise alone was worth the visit to The Island.

To acquire one of the images for wallpaper, or as a print, or for licensed use, simply click on the image and you will be directed to the sales page.

To see my Black Bear Gallery Click HERE

To see my Grizzly and Brown Bear Gallery Click HERE

Gear: Nikon D4s, Nikkor 80.0-400.0mm f/4.5-5.6 VRIII, Nikkor TC-14 EII, Lexar Digital Film, Archipelego Cruise’s 53′ Canoe Cove Motor Yacht




Mum and Pup Sea Otters (Enhydra lutris)




It is always great to photograph these, the smallest of marine mammals, as they just look so cute and cuddly. We had seen them on our visit to Alaska where they were “rafted up” in their hundreds.  But this Mum and Pup we spotted while on a cruise with Archipelago Cruises out of Ucluelet on Vancouver Island.

As would be common along the western seaboard they are floating in a kelp bed.  The sequence of shots shows that Mum was holding on to the Pups foot probably for safety.

Sea Otters (Enhydra lutris)

Mum holding on to Pup’s rear foot.

Sea Otters (Enhydra lutris)

Mum holding on to Pup’s rear foot.

Then, although the Pup isn’t small anymore (not short of fully grown by the looks of it) she hauls junior up onto her belly by pulling him up there by his foot / rear leg.

Sea Otters (Enhydra lutris)

Mum pulls Pup onto her belly by rear foot.

Sea Otters (Enhydra lutris)

Mum holds Pup securely while getting into position.

Once the position is achieved, both look happy and relaxed.

Sea Otters (Enhydra lutris)

Pup safely on Mum.

 Sea Otters (Enhydra lutris)

Pup snuggles down on Mum safe and sound.

I look forward to more encounters with these charming little marine mammals.

We have to thank Al and Toddy of Archipelago Cruises for such an excellent day – couldn’t have done it without them.  This cruise alone was worth the visit to The Island.

To acquire one of the images for wallpaper, or as a print, or for licensed use, simply click on the image and you will be directed to the sales page.

Gear: Nikon D4s, Nikkor 80.0-400.0mm f/4.5-5.6 VRIII, Nikkor TC-14 EII, Lexar Digital Film, Archipelego Cruise’s 53′ Canoe Cove Motor Yacht




Eared Grebes (Podiceps nigricollis) and their Young




Earlier this year was my first encounter with Eared Grebes (Podiceps nigricollis) at Mono Lake in the Californian Eastern Sierras.  They were just arriving and the guide books said that there would be so many that you could walk on them to the other side of the lake!

Adult Eared Grebe (Podiceps nigricollis) Mono Lake, CA

However, when visiting Saskatoon Lake Provincial Park in Alberta it was great to see many adults with their young.  The young were of mixed ages: some were still riding on the parents backs; some were being shown how to feed themselves and the occasional few were diving for themselves.  However, the primary activity on the lake was feeding the young.

Eared Grebe (Pociceps nigricollis) feeding its young

Eared Grebe (Pociceps nigricollis) feeding its young

Having fed the young the adult usually brings the beak into the body and arches the neck.  Here both the adult and young are doing the ritual.

Eared Grebe (Pociceps nigricollis) feeding its young

Here is an image of a parent “washing” the catch before passing it directly to the beak of the young.

Eared Grebe (Pociceps nigricollis) showing their young how to clean their catch

This little Grebe was learning how to dive, but bringing up its own camouflage.

Young Eared Grebe (Pociceps nigricollis) learning to dive

This little diver had the misfortune to surface by the wrong adult and was consequently chased off!

Eared Grebe (Pociceps nigricollis) chasing off the interloper

Eared Grebe (Pociceps nigricollis) chasing off the interloper

Eared Grebe (Pociceps nigricollis) chasing off the interloper

Adult Eared Grebe (Pociceps nigricollis)

It is always wonderful and fulfilling to see Mother Nature at Work.

To acquire one of the images for wallpaper, or as a print, or for licensed use, simply click on the image and you will be directed to the sales page.

Gear: Nikon D4s, Nikkor 600.0mm F/4 VRII, Nikkor TC-17 EII, RRS TVC-34L Tripod and Full Gimbal Head, Lexar Digital Film




The Result of the Windshield Shade




Click the link to go to the post on our travels blog

Tigger’s Shade.

The Magnashade is incredibly effective, greatly reducing heat from the sun directly through the windscreen and giving full visibility from inside while giving full privacy from the outside.  we would recommend this (with or without and image) to all Class “A” and Class “B” Motorcoach owners.




This Guy Deserves an Award !




While in Yellowstone National Park, I had stopped to work a pair of Trumpeter Swans (Cygnus buccinator) and noticed a group of cars pulled off the road just up the hill – probably bear!

Having finished with the swans, I decided to walk up to the other cars to see what was going on.  As I lifted my camera and tripod a mass of very excited people were heading down to where I was standing.

So I reset my gear and almost immediately spotted a big Grizzly Bear Boar (Ursus arctos) walking in and out of the tree line across the valley.

To visit my Grizzly Bear Gallery Click HERE

To Add one of these images to your collection click on the image.

Grizzly Bear Boar (Ursu arctos) first sighting, Yellowstone National Park

He was on a mission that only he knew, but his leisurely steps belied his real speed.  So having my initial shots I upped and hurried further down the road.  Most of the onlookers thought he was going to appear over the hill which came up to the road.  This would have been much to close for safety, but I was convinced that he was on a mission and would follow the tree line, so I moved further down the road until I could see where the valley re-emerged from behind the close hill.

I did not have to wait long to catch him again.

Grizzly Bear Boar (Ursu arctos) on a mission, Yellowstone National Park

He then came across a big patch of snow blocking his route, but he did not slow at all.

Grizzly Bear Boar (Ursu arctos) crossing snow, Yellowstone National Park

He thought that he caught a smell.  He zig-zagged through the snow, sniffing, but found nothing.  Obviously averse to this cold white stuff he retraced his paw prints and carried on.

Grizzly Bear Boar (Ursu arctos) crossing snow, Yellowstone National Park

Then he came to some shallow water and waded through the marsh.

Grizzly Bear Boar (Ursu arctos) on a mission, Yellowstone National Park

Until it was deep enough to swim and have a little fun.

Grizzly Bear Boar (Ursu arctos) Having Fun, Yellowstone National Park

Grizzly Bear Boar (Ursu arctos) Shaking, Yellowstone National Park

Grizzly Bear Boar (Ursu arctos) Cooling Off, Yellowstone National Park

Then he continued in the water, swimming and strolling, in much less of a hurry.

Grizzly Bear Boar (Ursu arctos) Sniffing, Yellowstone National Park

Grizzly Bear Boar (Ursu arctos) Cooling Off, Yellowstone National Park

Grizzly Bear Boar (Ursu arctos) “Aren’t I Cute?”, Yellowstone National Park

Grizzly Bear Boar (Ursu arctos) Really Cool, Yellowstone National Park

Sitting and raising his rear feet.  Someone behind me said “Oh look he is doing Happy Baby” a yoga pose.

Grizzly Bear Boar (Ursu arctos) Entertaining the crowd, Yellowstone National Park

Grizzly Bear Boar (Ursu arctos) Doing Yoga “Happy Baby”, Yellowstone National Park

Looking at the time of my first and last shots of this guy he kept me entertained for 90 minutes !  That’s why he deserves an award.  The crowd thought it was great and it was a big anticlimax when he moved out of sight.

Gear:  Nikon D4s; Nikkor 600.0mm f/4, Nikkor TC-17 EII, RRS TVC-34L Tripod and Full Gimbal Head; Lexar Digital Film




This Makes a Great Day of Wildlife Photography!




…..for me.

What makes “Great” day in your wildlife photography?  Do tell me.

I really enjoy photographing wildlife.  Moving to Nikon cameras from my old Hasselblad “V” System camera enabled me to get some long glass.  I started with the Nikkor 200.0-400.0mm f/4 lens primarily for birds and warbirds (i.e. anything that flies!), largely inspired by Moose Peterson.

It is nearly 5 years since I acquired the 600.0mm f/4 lens and since then it has been my most used lens of any.  Very much shooting wildlife and predominantly birds.

A good day is being able to do good work with the available species.  A Great day is capturing a new species.  Unlike “birders” who must see the bird through their bins or scope (and I believe a bird can be added to the list by recognizing its call) I need to get a good photograph that is tack sharp in order to add the species to my list.

So far this year I have photographed 24 new species for my list.  Here are images of some of those birds and a full list at the end.  Admittedly I have been in new areas of this continent – South Texas, South Arizona and mid Arizona, but I hope I keep having these great days.

Vemillion Flycatcher (Pyrocephalus rubinus)

Gray Flycatcher (Empidomax wrightii)

Great Kiskadee (Pitangus sulphuratus)

Greater Roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus)

Green Jay (Cyanocorax yncas)

Common Pauraque (Nyctidromus albicollis)

Long-billed Thrasher (Toxostome longirostre)

Curved-billed Thrasher (Toxostoma curvirostre)

Forster’s Tern (Sterna forsteri)

Wilson’s Snipe (Gallinago delicate)

Pyrrhuloxia (Cardinalis sinuatus) a.k.a. Desert Cardinal

Eared Grebe (Podiceps nigricollis)

The images of the full list of “New Birds” together with the other non-new birds can be found on www.mothernatureimages.com on March’s New Images and April’s New Images

To acquire any of these images, click on the image, Add to Cart …..

Full List of New Birds

Altimera Oriole (Icterus gularis)

Annas Hummingbird (calypte anna)

Bendire’s Thrasher (Toxostoma bendirei)

Bewick’s Wren (Thryomanes bewickii)

Black-chinned Sparrow (Spizella atrogularis)

Bridled Titmouse (Baeolophus wollweberi)

Canyon Towhee (Melozone fusca)

Chipping Sparrow (Spizella passerina)

Clark’s Nutcracker (Nucifraga columbiana)

Common Pauraque (Nyctidromus albicollis)

Curve-billed Thrasher (Toxostoma curvirostre)

Eared Grebe (Podiceps nigricollis)

Forsters Tern (Sterna forsteri)

Gambles Quail (Callipepla gambelii)

Gila Woodpecker (Melanerpes uropygialis)

Golden-fronted Woodpecker (Melanerpes aurifrons)

Gray Flycatcher (Empidonax wrightii)

Great Kiskadee (Pitangus sulphuratus)

Greater Roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus)

Green Jay (Cyanocorax yncas)

Green-tailed Towhee (Pipilo chlorurus)

Horned Lark (Eromophilia alpestris)

Ladder-backed Woodpecker (Picoides scalaris)

Least Grebe (Tachybaptus dominicus)

Long-billed Thrasher (Toxostome longirostre)

Mexican Jay (Aphelocoma wollweberi)

Orange-crowned Warbler (Oreothlypis calata)

Phainopepla (Phainopepla nitens)

Plain Chachalaca (Ortalis vetula)

Pyrrhuloxia (Cardinalis sinuatus)

Rufus-winged Sparrow (Peucaea carpalis)

Sage Thrasher (Oreoscoptes montanus)

Say’s Phoebe (Sayornis saya)

Swamp Sparrow (Melospiza georgiana)

Verdin (Auriparus flaviceps)

Wilson’s Snipe (Gallinago delicata)

Locations

Chiricahua National Monument, AZ

Laguna Atascosa Wildlife Reserve, TX

Lake Patagonia State Park, AZ

Little Black Mountain Petroglyph Site, AZ

Mono Lake, CA

Montezuma Castle National Monument, AZ

Santa Ana NWR, TX

South Padre Island, TX

Tombstone Area, AZ

Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area, AZ

Gear:

Nikon D4S, GP-1, Nikkor 600.0mm f/4 VRII, Nikkor TC-17 EII, Nikkor 80.0-400.0mm f/4.5-5.6 VR III, Nikkor TC-14 EII, RRS TVC-34L Tripod, RRS Full Gimbal Head, Lexar Digital Film





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