Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Trees for Travellers

One of the biggest criticisms I've heard of nature photographers stems from our desire to travel to far away and exotic locations. How can we justify the carbon expenditure we produce which adds to climate change in order to capture and image of a creature or location we love... our travel is causing more damage. And yet, the plane would go with or without us... so as a result I've taken to buying Carbon Offsets to help ease my conscience about my personal travel and subsequent contributions to greenhouse gas emissions.

I am always on the lookout for new opportunities for local projects that will benefit the areas I visit so I am pleased to share a "find" I made in Kiakoura, New Zealand: Trees for Travellers. They have a convenient flight calculator and you can track the growth and health of your assigned tree on Google Maps.

Check it out and see if a tree in Kaikoura makes sense for you.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Colony

Trying to make sense of the Shy Albatross colony took a bit of work. I managed to find one nest in the front of the colony with a handsome looking chick. Using him as my anchor I waited patiently for some action and was rewarded for my patience when an adult moved in to feed it's chick in the background. Waiting just a few moments more I was able to capture an albatross in flight over the colony which completed the image for me and gave a full picture of what the colony is all about.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

No one ever mentions the fleas...

"Just lay down in the dirt there and you can get the penguins walking toward you!" said Iain.

There is a cacophony of sounds ranging from soft purrs to loud braying and high pitch shrieks. Shutter clicks punctuate the night accompanied by brief flashes of light from our camera strobes. We were in a sea cave on a tiny island in the Bass Strait (between mainland Australia and Tasmania) and the cave was filled with Little Blue Penguins and petrels. Every night the penguins make the journey from the sea, over huge rocks, through a small meadow and up a cliff to enter the cave where their babies are waiting to eat the haul from the days fishing.

Our headlamps and flashlights were equipped with red filters to minimize distraction to the birds and I'm certain that anyone viewing the uninhabited island from the sea might believe aliens had landed or the the rock was possessed by ghosts. It was just two crazy photographers, thousands of sea birds and who knows how many more thousand fleas! Judging by the bites on my knees and elbows... there are over half a million fleas... but it was well worth a bit of itching to spend the night with these wonderful birds. Next time I'll remember the bug repellent!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Off to see the Wizard...

Well... maybe not THE Wizard but I am off to OZ for certain! I will be back on January 27th and with any luck I'll have a couple of great Albatross photos to show for it!

In February I'll be sharing some of these images with the Ohlone Audubon Society. If you are in the area, stop by! I'll see you all in February!

Date: February 2 Time: 7:30 p. m.
Place: San Leandro Community Library Karp Room
300 Estudillo Avenue (94577)

Topic: Albatross: Wanderers on Wing and Wave
Presenter: Rebecca Jackrel

Of the 22 recognized species of Albatross, only one is showing an increase in population. Three species are stable. The remaining species are in decline. From plastics to long-line fishing, the challenges facing albatross are huge but not insurmountable. Join us for a look into the world of the albatross. See the beauty, the strength and the challenges ahead and learn why American ornithologist Robert Cushman Murphy exclaimed, “I now belong to a higher cult of mortals – for I have seen the albatross.” Rebecca Jackrel will give a slide presentation about her adventures photographing albatross around the world and the conservation issues facing these amazing sea birds. She will take you to the windswept Falkland Islands to meet the incredibly adept flyers: the Black-browed Albatross and to the island paradise of Midway Atoll, where the comical and goofy Laysan and Black-footed Albatross reside. We’ll end the evening with a trip “down under” to Australia and New Zealand to meet the large Northern Royal Albatross and the introverted Shy Albatross.

To reach San Leandro Main Library from I-580, take the Estudillo exit. Follow Estudillo to library on the right. From I-880, take the Davis St. exit and head east, passing under BART tracks. Go through light at E. 14th St (Davis becomes Callan). Continue 1 ½ blocks to library on right. Library parking lot can be entered from both Callan or Estudillo. We’ll meet in the Karp Room.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Cleaning up in a New Year

I know that San Francisco has a wonderful recycling program but it still irks me that I feed it so much on a weekly basis. It seems like every year we get more and more and more junk mail coming through that little slot. Every week I seem to have a full paper bag with credit card offers and catalogs wanting me to buy, buy, buy.

Well today it stops... OK actually up to 90 days from now... but thanks to research done by my friend Jim Goldstein, I have opted out of magazine, credit card, insurance and catalog offers! To find out how you can do the same, visit Jim's Blog and follow his easy instructions! Just one word of warning - the text they use on the opt out websites to verify you are a person and not a computer bot is case sensitive and a bit confusing: 'I' and 'l' look the same etc... if it doesn't take it the first time keep trying. At least they don't remove your data and make you start over from scratch!