Monthly Archives: March 2017

Red-tailed Boa

Red-tailed Boa, Terra Firma Forest along the Amazon, Peru

On our final hike in the Terra Firma forest along the Amazon, in Pacaya Samiria National Reserve, we had the services of three local guides from the community that maintains the trail. They spend every day there, and, by ranging out ahead on either side of the trail, found us all kinds of interesting stuff that we would never have found on our own. And they were clearly delighted to do so. They displayed a quiet satisfaction in every find…happy to show their visitors the wonders of their Amazon forest. 

When they came back and said they had found a Red-tailed Boa, I marched confidently off the trail after them to see. The Rosy Boas I have seen in Honduras and the Emerald Tree-boa I had seen earlier in the week did nothing to prepare me for the Red-tailed Boa they had found. My other boas were maybe 4 feet long, and slender…normal snake proportions. This Red-tailed Boa was a monster of a snake…it must have been 12 feet long and 10 inches in diameter at its thickest…its head was a big as my hand and considerably more impressive! It was coiled at the base of a tree in the underbrush…in deep shadow and bright dappled sunlight, and the simple size of it as it coiled and moved made it very difficult to photograph, and next to impossible to effectively  capture even in a series of photos. The panel above shows various views…including a close up of the body and the tail. This was one big snake…certainly the biggest I have seen in the wild, and one of the biggest I have ever seen. 

One of our guides saw a Poison Dart Frog in their among the coils and climbed in after it, hoping to be able to show us another wonder…and that certainly caused some excitement as the snake roiled to get out of the way. It was not aggressive at all, and we certainly were not its prey, so there was no danger…but still! Best not to tempt fate.

Sony Rx10iii at various focal lengths. Program Mode with exposure compensation to deal with the highlights. Processed in Polarr on my iPad Pro. Assembled in Framemagic. 

Inca Terns

Inca Terns, Pucu Sana, Peru

I am back from my 20 days in South America…first in Peru and on the Amazon River, and then in Ecuador and the Galapagos. I am not sure I am going to try to catch up here. You will have to take it on trust that I took at least one picture each day and could have posted it if I had had internet. 🙂 I actually took about 12000 exposures and came back with about 1200 keepers. 

These are Inca Terns…certainly one of the most striking of the world’s tern family…from a fishing boat off Pucu Sana, Peru. Our visit to Pucu Sana was sandwiched in between the Amazon and the Galapagos, and for those of us who went on to the islands, was just an appetizer. Though they do not have Inca Terns on the Galapagos. 🙂 

Sony Rx10iii at 600mm equivalent field of view. My custom action mode with continuous focus to cope with the motion of the boat. Processed in Polarr on my iPad Pro. 


Harbor Seals, La Jolla, California

When the good people of La Jolla California built a curing sea wall atop a natural rock barrier to enlarge and improve a small portected beach where their children could swim, they may not have realized that they were creating an ideal pupping beach for the Harbor Seals of the area…but that is certainly what they did. Now, Children’s Pool Beach (or Casa Beach as it is officially called) is closed to humans during pupping season, but the tender spectacle of the Harbor Seals giving birth and nursing young, and hauling out during molt, brings over a million visitors to La Jolla each year, including many bus-loads of kids. Fair trade. 🙂 The colony of 200 seals at La Jolla is relatively unique. It is one of the few colonies on the mainland, the only one south of Ventura, and the only colony in an urban area. Seals are shy of humans, and La Jolla is one of the rare places where they tolerate people as close as they do here. 

This is a newborn pup with its mother. In other shots you could see the umbilical cord still attached. Most pups are born on the beach, but they take to the water with their mother within 2 hours. Getting in and out of the water, even in the protected surf of the Children’s Pool, is the hardest challenge and mothers and pups seem to practice the maneuver over and over. The “nosing” behavior you see here promotes bonding between pup and parent and helps keep the pair from loosing each other in the water…and helps the pup to find its mother on a crowed beach. 
Sony Rx10iii at 600mm equivalent field of view. Program mode. Processed in Polarr and assembled in Framemagic on my iPad Pro. 

Wet Sea Lions chesting.

Sea Lions, La Jolla Cove, California

Wet Sea Lions are very difficult to photograph. The water on their slicked down fur catches the sun and reflects back in big patches of pure white burn-out. You can see a bit left in this image. I have already edited out the worst and most distracting instances. 

Moving away from technical grumbling 🙂 these two young males (I assume) were engaged in a bit of play…or working off some aggression…by repeatedly pushing as hard as they could against eachother’s chests. It looked like football players bonding, but in Sea Lion world it may have some completely different function. I saw several pairs this age “chesting”. 

Sony Rx10iii at 600mm equivalent field of view. Program mode. 1/250th @ f4 @ ISO 160. Processed in Polarr and TouchRetouch on my iPad Pro. 

Marbled Godwit

Marbled Godwit, San Diego California

A rainy morning in San Diego, in the marshes in the San Diego River Channel near its mouth, and a flock of Marbled Godwits. Handsome birds even in the half-light. 

Sony Rx10iii at 600mm equivalent field of view. Program mode. 1/500th @ f4 @ ISO 100. Processed in Polarr on my iPad Pro. 

Ring-bill in early light

Ring-billed Gull, Jacksonville Florida

There were lots of Ring-billed Gulls sitting on the railing along the riverfront in Jacksonville Florida early in the morning, soon after sunrise. They were absolutely fearless, and easy photographic subjects. The warmth of the light really brings out the color of the eye and its surround. 

Sony Rx10iii at 600mm equivalent field of view. Program mode. 1/800th @ f4 @ ISO 100. Processed in Polarr on my iPad Pro. 

Fireworks from the window… Happy Sunday!

Fireworks, Jacksonville Florida

“If your eye is generous, you whole being is full of light!” Jesus.

Unexpected fireworks from my 5th floor window at the Hyatt Riverside in Jacksonville Florida last night. Hand held and through glass. 🙂 We are lovers of light. Nothing speaks so directly to our spirits. To be full light is our highest ambition. Let your eye be generous and the light within you great. 

Sony Rx10iii at 600mm equivalent field of view. Program. 1/100th @ f4 @ ISO 1600. Processed in Polarr and assembled in Framemagic on my iPad Pro. 

Double-crested Cormorant (with crests :)

Double-crested Cormorant, La Jolla California

For most of the year the name of the Double-crested Cormorant is a total mystery…it has no crests. Only during breeding season do you see why they named it. And even then, Double-eyebrowed Cormorant would be much more accurate. Still those plumes are impressive, especially on a black bird, and especially over that bright green “cat’s eye marble” eye…making another handsome Cormorant. 🙂 On the sea cliffs at La Jolla Cove in Southern California. 

Sony Rx10iii at 600mm equivalent field of view. Program mode. 1/250th @ ISO 160 @ f4. Processed in Polarr on my iPad Pro. 

Brant’s Cormorant

Brant’s Cormorant, La Jolla California

This time of year the cormorants in La Jolla Cove are in full breeding plumage. This is a Brant’s Cormorant. Note the white mutton chops, the white filaments down the back, and the bright blue throat. And, of course, the blue crystal eye. One handsome bird! 

Sony Rx10iii at 600mm equivalent field of view. Program mode. 1/400th @ ISO 100 @ f4. Processed in Polarr on my iPad Pro.

Pelican in flight: Point Loma

Brown Pelican, Cabrillo National Monument, San Diego California

Another Brown Pelican in flight shot…this time from the Tide Pools at Cabrillo National Monument at the end of Point Loma in San Diego. The loess cliffs at the Tide Pools are idea for Pelican flight shots, as the birds often ride the uplift right above the top of the cliffs, just above eye-level. This image really catches the “mass” of the bird and the huge wings that sustain it in a glide. 

Sony Rx10iii at 600mm equivalent field of view. 1/1000th @ ISO 100 @ f4. Processed in Polarr on my iPad Pro.