Category Archives: travel

From the Archives: Fishermen at dawn

A long time ago, I went backpacking for 3 months through Africa. The morning of our long voyage home, knowing that a once in a lifetime trip was wrapping up, I woke at dawn to walk on the beaches of Nungwi, Zanzibar. A storm was passing on the horizon, and the fishermen were waiting in their boats for the tides, to begin their day’s work.

This image brings back a flood of memories – the emotions of saying good-bye to this amazing continent, the electricity in the air from the storm, and the friendliness of the fishermen, who bade me join them for breakfast on their boat (which I did). Travel is in my blood; pictures are what keep the memories alive. I can’t imagine my life without travel and photography.

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Inspiration: ILEP photography

So. I have these friends. And they’re biologists, as well as nature photographers. (Those two careers seem to go hand-in-hand a lot, y’know?). Anyway, they are gooooood. Their portfolio includes gorgeous scenery, wildlife portraits, and travel chronicles. Starry nights, majestic mountains, northern lights, misty mornings, wintry fields, fall splendour; moose, owls, bears, wolves, fox;  Nepal, Italy, Thailand… I am awed by their landscapes, impressed by their wildlife captures, and inspired by their travel experiences.

I think what impresses me the most is the commitment it takes to take these kinds of pictures. It’s one thing to take photos of an alpine wildflower meadow; it’s an entirely different thing to take photos of a bear in that meadow. Or to be up with the northern lights on a ridge top in the middle of the night. Or to capture a lightning strike in the prairies. All of this takes patience, as well as fortitude – get up when you’d rather be sleeping, get cold and wet when you’d rather be warm and dry, be eaten alive by mosquitoes when you’re waiting by the stream for a perfect shot of that moose. Kudos, gentlemen, kudos – keep up the good work!

ILEP is currently having a sale, with 30% off their images until the end of the month. So if you’re looking for some incredible nature images, as a fine art print, or some photo merchandise (mouse pads, tshirts, magnets, etc), look no further – ilep has you covered.

http://ilep.smugmug.com/

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Dominican Republic: Birds

(Click through to see the 5 images in this post).

Of course, being in the Caribbean without kids meant I had the time and opportunity to do some serious birding. While the biodiversity of Central and South America is better, there were still lots of endemics and beautiful birds to observe. Ironic that the best place to bird was actually at the resort, even though we spent over 8 hours in the Nacional Parque del Este (with a pricey private guide and boat tour), where we barely heard a peep. And you know what? Not much can beat birding in a bathing suit with a rum punch in your hand.

All of these images were taken with my trusty 70-200 mm f/4, which is a bit of a bulky beast to carry around on vacation. More to come on that later.

White-necked crow (with a crazy red eye):

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Pearly-eyed thrasher:

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Black-crowned palm tanager:

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Hispaniolan lizard-cuckoo (so cool watching this guy hunt!):

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Hispaniolan woodpecker, excavating a cavity:

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Dominican Republic: Critters

(Click through to see the 5 images in this post).

In the Dominican Republic for a week, our time was pretty evenly spent looking out at the ocean, up at the birds, and down at the ground looking for critters. Ok, maybe there was a little time spent gazing into each others’ eyes – it was our 10-yr anniversary after all, and we were on vacation without the kids – but not much of that, there were too many adventures to be had!

We managed to get off the hotel grounds a few times, and spent some time in Bayahibe, on Isla Saona, and for a hike in the Parque Nacional del Este, entering from the NE access point in Boca de Yuma. The bird post will come later this week, but here are few of the critters we encountered here and there in our travels.

Blunt-headed Green Tree Snake:

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A terrestrial snail on the limestone trail in the Parque Nacional del Este:

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A crab on the beach in the fishing village of Bayahibe:

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A basking Santo Domingo Curly-tailed Lizard:

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An anole on the trail between Bayahibe and Dominicus:

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Amherst Island – a photographic essay

A sunny Friday, a day off school for the kids, and an air of spontaneity – who’s up for a day trip to Amherst Island?!  The kids were gung-ho (there’s a ferry involved), my husband was all keen (there are migrating birds involved) and I had a new lens to play with – et on y va! Amherst Island is just west of Kingston, in Lake Ontario. A short trip in the car, and we arrive just in time to make the ferry – only a 20 min jaunt across the water.

There’s not much to the Island, which is what makes it so special. Some gravel roads, cows and sheep, an old cemetery (with dates from the 1800s), lovely views across the lake, and Owl Woods. We tried our darndest to find some owls, searching up and down the trunks of the cedars, but it’s the wrong season – we’ll have to try again over the winter. (Maybe next time we won’t have to bushwhack through the willows on our way out.) But the island didn’t disappoint with regards to avian diversity. Highlights included northern harriers circling overhead, a merlin perched above us, a mixed flock of warblers in the cemetery that included a northern parula, great blue herons hunting out in the fields (for grasshoppers?) and huge flocks of starlings hanging with the sheep. The starlings didn’t do their crazy dance in the sky (that’s on my bucket list to see), but they were entertaining nonetheless.

All in all, a great day out. We ended up in Kingston for dinner, and managed to do some stargazing out the window on the way home. Soul-satifying, it was.

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From the Archives: Monteverde

These last couple of weeks have been a little rough around here – hectic schedule with the start of school, some field work for my partner, a few days at the folk festival, and now our first colds of the season. Albeit to say, I haven’t pulled my camera out much lately. But looking ahead to a long winter on the horizon, we plunged right in and booked a getaway to somewhere warm and wonderful. I’m now slowly getting excited to see all that the tropics have to offer – rainforests and beaches, hiking and snorkeling, birds and bugs…

Can. Not. Wait.

In the spirit of the potential of the upcoming trip (months away still, but a girl can dream!): here’s a shot from high up in the Costa Rican cloud forest, Monteverde. A must-see spot if you’re ever around those parts – full of biological wonders appearing out of the mist.

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Monteverde, February 2008

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Indian Pipe

All that rain: cloudy skies, muddy trails, and Indian pipes appearing like pale ghosts haunting the forest floor.

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A medley of (NY) mushrooms

I decided to leave behind my favourite lens on a hike in the Adirondacks, and only packed my 20-35 mm. While it took me a while to warm up to the new perspective, it was a bit of an empowering experience, to let the lens dictate the subject and composition. This meant that I was on my belly a lot, photographing the multitude of mushrooms that were gracing the forest floor after the rains the area had experienced. I can’t identify them – I’m an ornithologist, not a mycologist – but I can definitely admire them! (Make sure to click through to see the full set.)

The hike began at the High Peaks Information Center, and was up to Marcy Dam, a total distance of 7.5 km return. I was super proud of our kids for accomplishing almost the whole hike on their own two feet – not too shabby for 4 and 6 year olds! We are slowly but surely upping their endurance, one hike at a time. One day they will be waiting for their parents to keep up with them…!

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June in August

Sorry about the radio silence over here. We were out of town for a couple of weeks, doing a tour of campgrounds in upper New York state. It was a great camping trip, even with our tent floating in rain-created lake, and a ripped quad muscle at the most inopportune time (a story for another day). But the campfires, views, hikes, wildlife, and friends more than made up for any shortfalls.

On one such rainy morning, we headed to the W!ld Center in Tupper Lake, NY. What an amazing museum, you have to check it out if you’re in the area. Totally hands-on and interactive, it is a model of what a nature museum should be. The kids had a blast, but what was surprising was that I did too. You have to love a design that caters to every demographic, and even manages to teach some biologists a thing or two.

On a short hike outside the centre, I encountered these *ahem* preoccupied June bugs, in a delicate position. I love the way their colouring is highlighted by the browning leaves.

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Tall Ships 4

In case you thought I was crazy, I know this isn’t a picture of a tall ship.

However this water was lapping at the base of a tall ship, thus by association, I think it counts.

And besides, this is my blog, and I have ultimate power (bwahahaha!).

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