The Black-streaked Puffbird is, according to the book, difficult to see and uncommonly seen. My guide on the Amazon Journeys Birding the Manu Road adventure, Pepe Rojas, managed to find me two different ones along the Manu Road on the eastern slopes of the Andes in southern Peru. Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr.
We never got to the clay licks in the Amazon lowlands where the Macaws and other parrots gather in great numbers, but we did see two different Macaw species along the Manu Road in the foothills of the Peruvian Andes near Villa Carmen Biological Station. There was a Blue and Yellow Macaw on the ground of the station, and we found the pair of Chestnut-fronted Macaws along the road while returning from birding the road above the station. Pepe Rojas, my guide, did not think they were anything special, but I don’t see Macaws every day, and I was delighted to see them. 🙂 Even at a distance in less than ideal light. Sony RX10iv at 1200mm equivalent (600mm optical plus 2X Clear Imagte Zoom). Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr.
Jacamars are my photographic nemesis birds…or they were until my Birding the Manu Road adventure with Amazon Journeys and Pepe Rojas. Still, there is never enough light where Jacamars sit. Ever. In the space of two days at Villa Carmen Biological Station in the foothills of the Peruvian Andes, I had two good photo ops with Bluish-fronted Jacamars. This is from the second and better of the two. Even so it is at ISO 1000. Not enough light! Jacamars always make me think of giant hummingbirds, this just smaller then an American Robin, but they come between the Kingfishers and the Puffbirds. Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr.
This is another shot of the American Bald Eagle that posed so nicely for our digiscoping group during the Yellowstone Forever Institute ZEISS Digiscoping workshop in Yellowstone National Park. Taken with the ZEISS Harpia 85mm spotting scope and the Sony a6500 camera with the Sony E20mm f2.8 lens and the ZEISS Harpia M49 adapter. (It sounds harder than it is. Camera in Program mode, autofocus for final focus…touch to place the focus on the bird’s head.) Processed in Polarr.
We did not have any close views of wolves in Yellowstone. They were always well away, often across the river. This is a classic Yellowstone shot. American Bison holding down the top right, two Pronghorns crossing left, and a wolf in the foreground crossing right. They are all aware of each other, but not concerned, at least at the moment. Sony RX10iv at at least 600mm optical, and probably some Clear Image Zoom above that. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr.
American Bison calves are commonly called “Red Dogs” because of their reddish color. They are everywhere at Yellowstone in the spring and early summer…not so much in early September…but this must have been a very late calf. These photos were taken well after sunset, as in the last light of day, using Sony’s Anti-motion Blur mode to make the most of the available light. We were stopped on our way back to Lamar Buffalo Ranch by the main herd of Bison crossing the road and I had lots of time to get a window down and photograph Bison in the pasture below the road as we waited. Sony RX10iv at 600 and 100mm equivalents. Anti-motion Blur mode. Processed in Polarr.
“If your eye is generous, your whole being is full of light!” Jesus
On our way to the airport, between the Lamar Buffalo Ranch and Gardiner, we stopped at Yellowstone National Park’s Mammoth Hot Springs. We only had an hour to spare so I parked at the Upper Terraces, my favorite spot, and we hiked the boardwalks out over the the thermal springs. It is, of course, beautiful, but also very strange…very alien…very otherworldly. Like someplace we can’t quite imagine, and yet, undeniably present. There are signs all over saying not to touch the scalding water and not to step out onto that enticing surface, for as beautiful and fascinating as it is, it is not a place where humans can survive.
We are surrounded, of course, by an otherworld where we can survive…I am talking about the world of the spirit, as seen through generous eyes. A world of love and creation that can be just as strangely beautiful and alien as the terraces of the Hot Springs…and yet still a place where we can more than survive. And we don’t have to travel to Yellowstone to see it. It is never more than a decision away. Open eyes are all that are required. The other world of the spirit is as otherworldly, but completely safe. It is our true home, always waiting for us, a heartbeat away. We choose to see it or not. We choose to live it or not.
A strange landscape like that of Mammoth Hot Springs can jar us into the kind of open eyes we need to live in the otherworld of the spirit. And that is a good thing. Happy Sunday!
The Red-breasted Nuthatches on the Upper Terrace of Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park seemed somehow “brighter” or “higher contrast” than the ones that come to our feeders in Maine. Maybe it is the clear light and thin atmosphere. Maybe it is the birds themselves. This specimen was actively feeding on the pine cones along one of the boardwalks at the Hot Spring. Sony RX10iv at something over the 600mm optical equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr.
We left an hour early from the the Lamar Buffalo Ranch on our last day in Yellowstone, headed for the airport in Bozeman, but chasing a Wolf working its way up the valley that we saw from the Bunkhouse window after breakfast. We caught up with the wolf, still quite distant, but then had an extra hour…so we went to the upper terrace of Mammoth Hot Springs. Melissa had never seen the springs and I cajoled her into at least a short hike among the thermal pools. It was a special treat to find so many birds there…from the parking lot and around the pools. This Clark’s Nutcracker was very obliging…working the cones in a pine just off the boardwalk. We saw it from a distance, and were able to approach quite close. Sony RX10iv at something over 600mm optical and into Clear Image Zoom. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr.
After digiscoping more American Bison than you could shake a spotting scope at, we spent most of an afternoon looking for a Pronghorn at a reasonable distance for good digiscoping. One of our participants spotted this one on a little rise of ground above the road, right near a pull-out where the bus could park, and we all piled out with our scopes. The Pronghorn proceeded to amble down the hill toward us, and got as close as the legal limit of 25 yards. Any closer and, according to park rules, we would have had to back up. We had lots of time to take as many digiscoped images as we wanted before it turned and wandered back up the hill.
Despite their superficial similarity (and their other common names) Pronghorns are not antipopes. They are the last members of an otherwise extinct family of North American mammals, more closely related to Giraffes and Okapi, than to deer and old world antelopes. They are generally considered the second fastest land mammals, just behind the cheetah, and could, in theory, out last a cheetah over a mile chase. They are way faster than any existing North American predator.
Digiscoped with an iPhone 7 behind the eyepiece of a ZEISS Harpia 85 at about 1000mm equivalent. Exposure decreased manually to keep detail in the whites. Processed in Polarr.