One new photograph, almost every day of the year


2017—It’s Almost 11 PM—It Must Be Time For Sunset

It’s nearing the summer solstice and here in Churchill, we’re close to the Arctic Circle.  The sunset takes more than an hour and I took this shot at about 10:45PM.

Churchill Sunset.jpg

2017—Wing Walking

This is Day 2 in Churchill, Canada.  Churchill is a small, very isolated town of fewer than 1000 in Northern Manitoba on Hudson Bay.  It is a port from which Canadian wheat is exported and which is now further isolated because the rail service has been suspended in the past few days due to catastrophic flooding.  It is believed that repairs will take months and rail service may not begin again until this winter and possibly even as late as this spring.  There are no roads to Churhchill.  Most goods are brought in by rail.  The stores and restaurants that are open  cannot get any new supplies without having them shipped much more expensively by air so shelves go empty and prices double or triple.  The owner of the coffee shop where we have breakfast gives her customers a break by increasing prices by only 20% instead of the minimum of 50% increase that it is costing her.  This is quickly developing into a catastrophe for this small community.

Today we photographed the remnants of a transportation catastrophe from decades ago. A cargo plane dubbed “Miss Piggy” for its frequent cargo of pigs, crashed on takeoff from Churchill on November 13, 1979, with its cargo of freight consisting of a single Ski-Doo and cases of soda pop.  An oil leak forced the plane to crash land on the rock and tundra near Hudson Bay.  According to Wikipedia (so it much be true) three crew members survived the crash but two were severely injured.  The fuselage remains planted on the tundra atop lichen encrusted glacier carved rocks and is in surprisingly good condition despite its being there for almost 40 years.  The plane even starred in a movie but I haven’t found which one yet.  Part of the plane was painted over for the movie but the back side of the plane still bears the LambAir Cargo logo along with lots of graffiti from years of visitors.  Moose photographed me as I walked on the wing, with Hudson Bay in the distance.


Miss Piggy Front View.jpg

Carol on the Wing

2017—More From The Cecropia Tree

One morning while we watched Fiery Billed Aracari and Black-mandibled Toucans in the Cecropia Tree near the observation platform at Luna Lodge, a large brown bird flew into the tree and strutted around.  It was a Crested Guan and it stayed only about 30 seconds, apparently not finding anything to its liking in the Cecropia Tree.

Crested Guan.jpg

2017—Bay-breasted Warbler

One of the more cooperative warblers I photographed at Magee Marsh in May was a female Bay-breasted Warbler.  The afternoon’s high winds kept her perched for quite a while on the same branch.  I featured her in my blog at the time.  Click here to see her feathers ruffled in the wind.  About ten minutes after I took that photograph, she moved into the shelter of the branches before flying off.

Bay-Breasted Warbler female.jpg


2017—Forbidden Fruit?

The Royal Palm draws birds and monkeys to its huge dangling clusters of fruit.  This White-faced Capuchin Monkey was savoring his delicious treasure.  It’s a good thing this isn’t forbidden fruit because I don’t think these monkeys can resist eating it.

Capuchin forbidden fruit 2Capuchin Forbidden fruit

2017—Green Herons

This pair of Green Herons, both with their black crests raised, paused briefly on a fallen branch at the Lagoon (Laguna Peje Perrito) one morning.  I don’t know if this is a mated pair so their raised crests represent courtship behavior or if the raised crest represents an antagonistic posture.  One flew off soon after I took this photograph.

I have a soft spot for Green Herons because about 20 years ago, a pair nested in my oak tree for three years running.  Green Herons nest singly, not in rookeries.   I have no idea why they chose my tree because the nearest water is not really very close.  There was a small creek across the street that has long since been surrounded by condominiums, and the rice fields are about two miles away.  I wish I’d been a serious photographer then.   I watched the young herons stroll around my patio and look for fish in my backyard birdbath.  Sadly, the third year was not a charm for the pair.  One Mother’s Day, we had an unseasonally cold hail storm while the parents were gone from the nest.   It filled the nest with hailstones, killing the two chicks inside.  I later discovered a small fish on the lawn under the nest, probably dropped by the parent when they discovered the chicks were dead.  They never returned.

Green Heron Pair.jpg


This is the same juvenile Yellow-crowned Night Heron from yesterday’s post but in this shot, as it peers directly into the camera lens, it looks to me as if it has the posture of a little old man, hunched over with skinny legs and a curmudgeony expression.

Costa Rica juv yellow crown night heron

2017—Juvenile Yellow-crowned Night Herons

We were disappointed that we didn’t see as many birds at the Costa Rican Osa Peninsula lagoon as we’ve seen in past years. Perhaps it was the time of year…May instead of January and some birds had probably migrated north…or perhaps it was the devastation from Hurricane Otto in November…or perhaps it was the unexpected early onset of the rainy season that raised the level of the lagoon much higher than in the past, covering the lily pads that usually crowd the edges of the lagoon.  Whatever the reason, there were far fewer opportunities to photograph birds there this time.

We did see several juvenile Yellow-crowned Night Herons that relaxed in the early morning sunshine, however,  Here are two views of one of one bird and on another branch, a second bird a few yards away as the kayak paddles, standing on one leg,  its beak covered with down from preening and its partially closed nictitating membrane visible.

juv yellow crowned night heron front

juv yellow crowned night heron left

juv Yellow Crowned night heron beak open nictating membrane.jpg



2017—It’s Easy Being Green

I find the Spurrell’s Flying Tree Frog that we met last Friday in Costa Rica to be an irresistible subject for my blog so here s/he is again.  It must be easy to be green.  If you zoom in, you can see me reflected in its eyeball.

Spurrell's Flying Tree Frog 2.jpg

2017—Just Stay Calm

Late Friday afternoon we ventured out in search of a poison dart frog.  We were at a place called La Leona, near the entrance to Corcovado National Park, the place where I came close to suffering heat stroke on my last visit there.  But that was on an all day hike;   this was only about 30 or 45 minutes.  There must be something about the oppressive humidity that makes it feel like an all-day hike and I was feeling the effects after just 20 minutes.  Luckily, I brought GU electrolyte tablets with me this time and a half hour into the walk, I added one to my water bottle which took effect immediately and I was fine.  At least we didn’t have our tripods with us, just a single camera with two lenses so our load was fairly light, but negotiating the slippery muddy path across tree roots and up inclines and over streams made me nervous.  Erick our guide, whose nickname is El Fuerte, Strong One, even offered to carry me (!) across the wider streams because he wore rubber boots.  I refused to let him do that lest my weight disable him and leave us without a guide so he placed large flat rocks strategically in the fast moving stream then took my hand and walked me across.   Then, deep in the rainforest, Erick found our target frog.

It is said —of course, if you read it on the Internet then it must be true— that if you are calm when you handle Dendrobates Auratus, the Green and Black Poison Dart Frog, it is safe to do so.  Despite this bit of trivia (which I didn’t know until I wrote this blog post after reading about it on the Internet) when Erick, who was always relaxed while handling the frog, finished handling it, he doused his hands with water, then with alcohol hand cleaner as a precaution.  After all, the frog got its name for a reason.

This tiny frog is less than an inch long. According to Wikipedia (so it must be true) males are about 3/4 of an inch and females, slightly longer than an inch.  Erick thought this was a juvenile.  It looks harmless enough but its skin packs a punch.  I chose not to touch it.  I wouldn’t have been calm like Erick with a frog in my hand whether it was poisonous or not.


poison dart frog.jpg