November 11, 2011 - Florida

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.

Florida Scrub-Jay

A Florida Scrub-Jay in Central Florida scrub habitat. Habitat loss continues to cause a precipitous decline in populations of this Florida endemic.

October 17, 2011 - Alaska

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.

American Golden-Plover

An American Golden-Plover on alpine tundra in the Alaska Interior.

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.

Snowy Owl

A Snowy Owl in a mid-June snowfall on the Arctic tundra in Barrow. At 320 miles north of the Arctic Circle, snow can fall in any month of the year in Barrow.

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.

Pacific Loon

The spring thaw on the tundra opens the way for a remarkable influx of ducks, geese, and loons. I photographed this Pacific Loon while lying on an ice shelf at 1 AM on my last night in Barrow.

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.

Horned Puffin

A Horned Puffin on a cliff edge on Saint Paul Island - just one among millions of seabirds breeding on the Pribilofs.

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.

Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch

The Pribilofs race of the Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch is markedly larger and darker than the mainland races. These finches are common residents in the town of Saint Paul, nesting under the eaves of many houses and buildings, as well as in cinder quarries and on the sea cliffs.

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.

September 3, 2011 - Mid-Atlantic

Photos from several trips to coastal Maryland, Delaware, and New Jersey last winter are now posted.

August 31, 2011 - Spring in Virginia and West Virginia

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.

Chestnut-sided Warbler

A Chestnut-sided Warbler on a Red Spruce branch in Pocahontas County, West Virginia.

February 27, 2011 - Redpolls

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.

January 16, 2011

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.

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