Hummingbirds of Ecuador

•June 24, 2016 • 2 Comments

In early May of 2016, I had the good fortune to travel to Quito, Ecuador with friend Bob Karcz to photograph unique and colorful hummingbirds. Ecuador is known for over 130 species of hummingbirds. But to capture their glitter, glow and color is a huge challenge.

This challenge was met by the expertise of my friend, fellow photographer and workshop guide Matt Shetzer through the use of flash photography. Matt traveled with 14 flash units, 7 for each of 2 workstations. Each work station consisted of a natural, local flower, a special background and 7 flash units – 5 on the flower (and subsequently the hummer) and 2 on the background. When the hummer arrives at the flower all 7 flashes are triggered by the photographer with a remote release. The hummer image captured has extraordinary color, sharpness and contrast that is beyond anything that I have ever seen in natural light.

Now some may say that this is artificial and contrived. But I say the colors and beauty speak for themselves.

Male Booted Racket-tail - Male Booted Racket-tail hummingbird with wings and split tail spread hovers at a flower.

Male Booted Racket-tail

 

Fighting For The Flower - Two male Booted Racket-tail hummingbirds (you can see their little booties on their feet, and their racket-like twin tails) take aggressive positions (face-off, twin tails spread out) over who gets to the flower first.

Fighting For The Flower – Booted Racket-Tail hummingbirds spread their tails when in a defensive or aggressive situation.

 

Velvet-Purple Coronet - A Velvet-Purple Coronet hummingbird feeds on the nectar in a flower.

Velvet-Purple Coronet Feeding

 

Violet-Tailed Sylph InFlight - A male Violet-tailed Sylph hummingbird is about to extract nectar from a flower.

Violet-Tailed Sylph In Flight

 

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Matt Setting Up the Flash Stations

 

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Bob Karcz Aligning the Shot

 

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Two Flash Stations Ready To Go

 

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Rich Making The Settings

To see more of my spectacular images of hummingbirds click:

Hummingbirds

View a video of the Booted Racket-tail being attacked by other hummingbirds. Watch for the flash of the gorget. Watch for the defensive/aggressive tail spreading behavior when the hummer is challenged or attacked by another hummer. Part of the video clip is in slow motion.

Booted Racket-Tail Hummingbird Attacked Video

 

Wildlife and their Young

•May 5, 2016 • 7 Comments

In honor of Mother’s Day, I have a new show titled:

Wild Moms and Their Babies (Wildlife and their Young)

The show is on view at the Wildlife Experience Museum (University of Colorado – www.southdenver.cu.edu) in Parker, Colorado (suburb of Denver). The show will be at the museum May, June, July and August, 2016.

A reception will be held on Friday, June 24th from 5:30 pm to 8 pm at the Museum Atrium.

Wild Moms Announcement

Some of the images can be viewed on my website at:

Wild Moms and Their Babies – Wildlife and Their Young

Images of the hanging:

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Bald Eagles of Haines, Alaska

•February 22, 2016 • 11 Comments
Location of Haines

Location of Haines

Haines is one of the many jewels in Alaska. Not only is it a spectacular place with draw-dropping, stunning mountains, but it is also the location of an annual and unique wildlife event. Every November, thousands of bald eagles (peak has been about three thousand) flock to and converge on the gravel and sand bars of the Chilkat river near Haines for their annual salmon fish fest.  It is the largest single gathering of bald eagles in the world.

Because of a geological thermal condition, the Chilkat river stays warm late into the fall and early winter, delaying the freeze-over. This allows the salmon to spawn late into November and early December. Over time the bald eagles have discovered this location and have flocked in for a last feast before the harsh winter.

The American Bald Eagle Foundation and the town of Haines sponsor a celebration of this amazing event every year during the second week of November.

Haines Harbor

Haines in Summer

 

Haines Harbor

Haines Harbor

 

Reflection on the Chilkat River

Reflection on the Chilkat River

 

Waiting for the Salmon on the Chilkat

Waiting for the Salmon on the Chilkat River

An eagle would rather steal a fish from another eagle than find its own.

Fish Thief

Fish Thief

 

Sometimes the defending eagle will back off and let a dominant one take the prey.

Retreat - A juvenile bald eagle retreats from an attack of an in-coming eagle that is attempting to steal its prey. Haines, Alaska.

Retreat – A juvenile bald eagle retreats from an attack of an in-coming eagle that is attempting to steal its prey.

Sometimes the defending eagle will rear up with wings and talons exposed to defend its meal.

Defense

Defense

Often an eagle will grab a piece of salmon and fly to the nearby trees for protection, enabling it to consume the fish without threats from other eagles.

Salmon To The Trees

Salmon To The Trees

 

Salmon In The Trees

Salmon In The Trees

The eagles on the Chilkat do not need to fly and grab a fish swimming in the water, as they do in so many other places. Here the salmon die after spawning and float to the surface or to shore. The eagles usually just walk to a carcass and drag it to the shore, where they can consume the fish. They often will squawk to the world to announce “this is my fish” and “do not steal”.

Fish Claim

Fish Claim

 

Savory Salmon - A bald eagle and its reflection consume a salmon on the beach of the Chilkat River. Haines, Alaska.

Savory Salmon – A bald eagle and its reflection consume a salmon on the beach of the Chilkat River.

However, as one can see, this strategy just calls attention to the catch. Other eagles will wait for the right moment to attack.

In-Coming - A bald eagle attacks another eagle in order to force a retreat and steal the salmon. Haines, Alaska.

In-Coming – A bald eagle attacks another eagle in order to force a retreat and steal the salmon.

Watch a video of a bald eagle squawking its claim over its salmon:

Bald Eagle Claims Prize

 

Grizzly Bears of Alaska Photography Exhibit

•January 22, 2016 • 10 Comments

You are cordially invited to view my “Grizzly Bears of Alaska” photography exhibit at the Arts Alive Gallery, Breckenridge, Colorado.

As the Featured Artist for the month of February, I will have my framed and unframed prints viewable at the gallery from February 1 to February 28, 2016. The exhibit features grizzly bears and their cubs.

A reception will be held on Saturday, February 13, 2016, 4-8pm at the gallery.

I look forward to seeing you and sharing wildlife stories.

Grizzly Bears of Alaska Announcement

Last One Over The Fence

•January 7, 2016 • 5 Comments

Mule deer can easily jump a fence. It does take confidence and skill. In this case a small herd of 6 does and one buck encounter a barbed wire fence. Five does jump and one goes under. They also get plenty of practice since the ranches and range lands are cluttered with fences in Summit County, Colorado. Some landowners, considerate of the wildlife, will remove the bottom strand to allow wildlife to move easily under the fence. If only that were the case for all ranchers and fences. No doubt, this one deer will eventually learn to jump over the fence.

Under the Fence

Under the Fence

The buck patiently watches and waits until all of its herd members have cleared the fence. Then it easily jumps over the fence to lead the herd across Ute Pass road, over another fence, then out into the range land in search of grazing vegetation.

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All Clear?

          Canon 7D Mark 2, Canon 100-400 f/4.5-5.6 Mark 2, 1/2000 sec, f/8.0, ISO 800

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        Canon 7D Mark 2, Canon 100-400 f/4.5-5.6 Mark 2, 1/1600 sec, f/8.0, ISO 640

On another occasion and location last spring, I was able to capture on video a small herd of mule deer jumping a fence. All it takes is one to start:

Follow the Leader

 

Fall Colors in the San Juan Mountains

•October 21, 2015 • 9 Comments

One of the many benefits of living in Colorado is experiencing the fall colors of the golden aspens. While Silverthorne and Summit County offer breathtaking views at this time of the year, the San Juan mountains in southwestern Colorado will blow your socks off!

With my wife Beth,  friend Matt Shetzer and his Jeep Wrangler-Rubicon, we traveled the many jeep roads in the Ridgway, Ouray, Ophir area of southwestern Colorado at the peak of the fall foliage colors. Some roads were so rough with steep embankments that they brought an extra level of excitement and appreciation to the majestic views that we encountered.

Last Dollar Ranch at Sunset

Last Dollar Ranch at Sunset

 

The Mount Sneffels Range is surrounded by golden aspen fall folage and has a new dusting of snow.

The Mount Sneffels Range

 

San Juan mountain range and golden aspens as seen from Last Dollar Road, Ridgway, Colorado

San Juan Mountain Range as seen from Last Dollar Road

 

View into village of Ophir from Ophir pass, Colorado.

View into village of Ophir from Ophir pass, on a very narrow, steep jeep road.

 

The Photographer Setting Up A Shot

The photographer setting up a shot, taken by Beth Seeley

For the full set of San Juan Mountains fall foliage images, please see the gallery on my website HERE .

Hope that you enjoy.

Rich

Grizzly Bears – Lake Clark National Park and Preserve

•October 13, 2015 • 7 Comments

The least visited of all National Parks in the US national park system is Lake Clark National Park and Preserve in Alaska. It’s no wonder. One can reach the park only by plane or boat. No cars can get there. It is located on the shores of Cook Inlet about, a one-hour flight southwest from Anchorage. The landing strip is the beach! It’s not as easy to land as you might think: the pilot must first scan the beach for grizzly bears.

This park is home to dozens of grizzly bears (aka brown bears, aka coastal bears). Technically, a brown bear is not called a grizzly bear until it is 100 miles inland from the coast. On the coast they are called brown bears. However, I will be calling them grizzly bears because I love the sound and emotion that is evoked.

The sows (adult female bears) and their cubs inhabit the beach during the month of July, digging for clams at low tide. The salmon are also running at this time. As the salmon run peaks in early August, the boars (adult male bears) move in causing the sows with her cubs to move out. Boars will kill cubs to force a sow into estrous. A very grizzly way of life!

I had the good fortune to spend a week photographing sows with cubs, including 2 spring cubs (born in the spring) during the third week of July 2015. We stayed at the Alaskan Homestead Lodge, which I highly recommend. The trip/tour/workshop was organized by my good friend Matt Shetzer.

Just Fishing

Just Fishing

My heart skipped a beat or two when this sow charged right in my direction. She was just chasing a salmon, but I did not know it at the time. She stopped about 25 feet in front of me, close enough to make me step back a few steps.

Solace for the Spring Cub

Solace for the Spring Cub

This spring (born in the spring of the current year) cub swam out half-way across the stream, panicked, then turned around and paddled back to mom, where it received solace and comfort at a time of stress.

It’s a good thing these bears can read (note the sign on the left):

Grizzly Crossing

Grizzly Crossing

To view the gallery of grizzly bear images, including the spring cubs click:

Grizzly Bear Gallery

Bears occasionally stand up to view their surroundings and catch the scent of any threats. View this video of one sow standing:

Grizzly Sow Standing

Spring Cub Family Drink From Stream

Bear Hugs  – watch how two bear cubs stay warm together.

And bears can Stroll in Style

Hope that you enjoy

Rich