This is my favorite Atlantic puffin image from my Iceland trip. I had wanted to do-over the puffins I shot on my first visit to Iceland 9 years ago. I was glad they were still around, though not in the same numbers I remembered. I only spent 1 night photographing them on the cliffs at Latrabjarg, but was fortunate the sky was clear at sunset which bathed the puffins in golden light. Just when I thought I would have the cliffs to myself, a tour group showed up. I can’t complain because I moved around enough to avoid the puffin-jams and still photographed some beautiful poses. The cliffs are between 50-100m high, so I got as close to the edge as I was comfortable, but people have fallen to their deaths by getting too close, including an unfortunate German tourist a week after my visit. My heart went out to his family when I heard the news. I’ve got many more puffin & Iceland images to share in the weeks ahead.
This is a cute tufted puffin that I photographed last June in Lituya Bay on the remote outer coast of Glacier Bay National Park in Alaska. During my visit, I used my inflatable boat to explore the sea bird cliffs on the south side of Cenotaph Island. There were thousands of kittiwakes but only a few breeding pairs of tufted puffins. The puffins constantly flew back and forth from the tops of the cliffs down to the water to fish. Through my persistence, I was eventually able to drift close enough to this puffin to take its picture with my 500mm lens. I like the dark green water and pink reflection of the cliffs on the water behind it.
There are only an estimated 1500 endangered ae’o or Hawaiian stilts in the world. I saw about 10 of them yesterday afternoon when I drove down to the Koloko-Honokohau National Park fishponds. I thought about throwing the 500 f4 lens in the car as I left my room, but decided not to bring it. After I pulled into the parking area and got out to look around, I immediately observed the stilts lined up on the edge of the fishpond. After about 15 minutes, I decided to drive back to my room and get the big lens. When I returned with the 500, the ae’o let me approach close enough to take some nice portraits. I like this image because the bird’s long leg is out of the water as it is hunting for prey.
This bird I did find in the guidebook. It is called a Bythe’s Hornbill. Pretty wicked looking dinosaur of a bird. This one is the resident pest at Sorido Bay. When I first approached it, I was unaware that it was kinda tame. I took one look at that bill as it was coming at me and considering my past luck with getting bit by exotic critters, I backed off. Some of the locals then came over and showed me that they could actually touch it. I’m still not sold that I’m going anywhere near that beak, but I am quite pleased that I got to use my camera today and came away with some respectable images.
Update on 11/25-I figured out that this bird is a Kingfisher of Paradise.
Today started out very early. I am staying at the Waiwo Field Station of Conservation International. They are kindly putting me up for 2 nights before I start diving tomorrow with Papua Diving. I am trying to photograph the incredibly rare Wilson’s Bird of Paradise. I had to get up very early and hike a long way up hill through the jungle. I wore my sandals and was covered in mud by the time we got to where my guide had scouted the bird. I actually got a glimpse of it twice, but did not get off a single frame. I spent about 4 hours in my blind waiting with all manner of bugs crawling over me and biting the hell out of me. I am taking an anti-malarial drug, so I hope that it works because I’m gonna need it after that trek. Sitting on my knees in the mud in the jungle of Papua, what a treat! I am going to try again tomorrow. This bird is not a BOP, but rather something kinda cool that is not in the field guide that I have been looking through all evening. At least I took some pictures today that I can feel good about.
Eagles are surprisingly difficult to get close to in the wild. Sure, I have been only a few feet away from them on a boat dock while someone was cutting up a salmon, but to get close to them in a more natural setting is very difficult. They spook very easy, and when I am on the water, they can see me coming from a long way away. These 2 posed long enough for me to get a few shots with the nice blurred mountain background before they too took flight. Please visit more of my Bald Eagle Photography.
One of my favorite new bald eagle images has been awarded 3rd Place Mountain Flora & Fauna in the 2008 Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival Photography Competition. I captured this moment while visiting the Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve near Haines, Alaska last fall. I approached this eagle through the woods and got down as low as I could on the ground to capture the perfect background blur behind it just as it called out to another eagle flying overhead. Please visit my Bald Eagle Photography page to see more of my bald eagle images.