I originally named this portrait "Standing Room Only." I'd never seen a Black-crowned Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax) creep chest-high into a pool -- then just stand there forever like a Japanese snow monkey.
I had just a split second to figure it out when, in a move I couldn't believe -- one serendipitous gesture by nature -- a huge wave pushed the gull back toward the beach. He was flattened against the sand and struggling as the undertow pulled him back. It was just enough time for me to dive into the water, grab him around the wings, and tuck them against his side to constrain his moves.
I've done a "best of" selection at the end of previous years ... but this year I'm opting for a favorites list. I didn't realize there would be a disparity between the photos I consider my best technically versus those I hold close to my heart. There appears to be only a loose correlation between the merits of an image and my feelings about it.
This fork in the Nooksack is a known spot for Bald Eagles scavenging salmon carcasses in the winter ... the fish now expired after their long haul upstream. The salmon fulfilled their life mission -- leaving their legacy in eggs laid among pebbles of the river bed.
In the Northwest, you're working with multiple environmental factors when making wildlife pictures. From a technical standpoint, the most dramatic adaptation in this gorgeous green zone is light -- both quality and quantity of light. You're always playing the odds with rain, clouds, diffusion, and time.
I spotted my first migratory ducks on the urban shores of Elliott Bay last week. The new arrivals are on edge -- wary and easy to flush. Lifting my lens is enough to send them skittering to the middle of the bay, and I can only imagine what sights and sounds have jarred them into high alert on their long journey home.
The color white represents catharsis in alchemy. It's the point at which a blackened substance, through heat and reactivity, develops a white crust and then puffs into a cloud inside the alchemist's flask. It's the stage at which future possibilities become apparent as a material is transformed from one to the other. And it's symbolized by a white swan or white eagle.
This is my annual re-post -- on the first weekend of waterfowl hunting season in both Washington (where I'm living now) and California (my home). I've been lightly tweaking the post each year, adding new information or links. My reason for re-posting this piece is to bring attention to some of the lesser discussed aspects of duck hunting. The most significant issue for me is the enormous injury rate in all wing shooting -- a facet rarely brought forth voluntarily, and one that's inadequately studied. I provide additional details on that subject in this post.
Smith Cove Park is populated only occasionally with dog walkers, cruise ship aficionados, marina boaters and a few transient souls who stop there by way of a nearby bike route. I went there for the waters -- and for the salt air -- without expectation of wildlife. But, that was about to change -- one late April day.
Like Georgia O’Keeffe’s flower, the gull, along with many urban birds, is overlooked and pushed aside, sometimes literally under foot on crowded sidewalks. Also like O’Keeffe’s flower, when you take the time to really look at that gull and embrace the wholeness of her — her yellow bill, her gray coverts, her ear spots or orbital rings, the white tips of her stretched wings — she becomes your world not just for the moment, but in perpetuity.