Photos from a very rainy trip to Central Florida are now online in a new gallery. I was happy to photograph most of the bird species I'd hoped for on my long weekend trip, in spite of the weather, but I'm looking forward to going back sometime to get birds in better plumage and better light.
I visited Alaska for the first time this June, and spent most of the month traveling through that vast and diverse state. With Anchorage as a hub, I went on three major outings, first exploring interior Alaska (Glenn, Richardson, Parks, and Denali Highways), then the Arctic tundra (Barrow), followed by a visit to a seabird colony in the Bering Sea (Saint Paul Island). In between these larger trips were a few brief forays in South-Central Alaska, including the Kenai Peninsula.
The Alaska Interior surpassed all my expectations, with spectacular mountain ranges and vast boreal forests, to say nothing of the wildlife. The Denali Highway in particular offered some of the most beautiful scenery I've ever experienced, as well as fantastic opportunities to photograph ptarmigans, warblers, and shorebirds. With usable light nearly 20 hours a day, the only challenge was finding time to sleep.
The Arctic tundra at Barrow presented a very different landscape, with nothing but flat brown tundra stretching out to the horizon on one side, and sea ice stretching out to the North Pole on the other. Barrow is certainly one of the stranger places I've visited, but also one of the most rewarding. Within a few hours of arrival, I found myself photographing a Snowy Owl in a mid-June snowfall, just a few minutes before midnight.
The cloudy weather during my week in Barrow was frustrating, as I'd been dreaming of photographing the beautiful eiders, loons, and shorebirds all night long in the sweet light of the midnight sun. Only on my last evening in Barrow did I finally get to experience the midnight sun, but even then, clouds rolled in and ended my photography by 2 AM.
After a lot of weather frustration (but still some fantastic photography) in Barrow, I headed to Saint Paul Island, a location notorious for its foul weather. Here my weather luck turned around, as I got to experience several calm days with little fog, and clouds light enough that the sun was able to poke through on a few occasions. These were great conditions for getting photos of the beautiful and fascinating puffins, auklets, murres, fulmars, cormorants, and kittiwakes that breed on the cliffs of Saint Paul and the other Pribilof Islands.
The second half of my stay on Saint Paul was more typical for the island, with howling wind and frequently impenetrable fog. The weather was bad enough that my flight back to Anchorage was postponed by a day, giving me a bit more time to explore that fascinating little island and enjoy its distinctive wildlife. Among the most intriguing denizens to me was the Pribilof Islands race of the Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch, which weighs in at about twice the size of the rosy-finch races found on the mainland.
Combined with some terrific songbird sessions in the mid-Atlantic and Appalachian forests this spring, my Alaska trip capped a fantastic three months of photography.
Photos from several trips to coastal Maryland, Delaware, and New Jersey last winter are now posted.
I spent most of the weekends in April and May photographing songbirds in the beautiful forests of Virginia and West Virginia, and photos from these outings are now posted in a new gallery.
I took a four-day weekend last week to travel to Ontario in search of Hoary Redpolls. Photos from the trip are now posted in a new gallery. The Hornemann's race, which breeds in Greenland and on Baffin and Ellesmere Islands, was my main target. Hornemann's Hoary Redpolls are significantly larger and frostier than the more common and widespread Exilipes race of Hoary Redpoll. I did have some success, managing usable photos of a first-winter female Hornemann's Hoary Redpoll, though this individual doesn't exhibit the frosty look of an adult male Hornemann's. While this was the only Hornemann's bird I found, I did have the opportunity to photograph several Exilipes Hoary Redpolls, as well as Common Redpolls.
I continued my streak of good weather luck in the Pacific NW recently, with four beautiful sunny days spent mostly working on waterfowl on Vancouver Island and in Oregon. Photos from the trip are now posted in a new gallery. I've also posted some photos from last winter, most of which were taken in Virginia during the Snowpocalypse and Snowmageddon blizzards, in a new gallery.