The other day on a whim I decided that I needed to get some pictures of a Blue Throated Macaw in flight. So I jumped on the next flight out to the Pantanal in Bolivia in order to try and get some good images. Here are a few of the photos that I was able to make.
OK that first part was a total lie, sorry about that. The truth is I was at an art show when another artist came by and asked me if I wanted to photograph her bird. Which she told me was a Blue Throated Macaw that she had trained to free fly very much like a falconer flies a falcon. Well I have to say I was more than a little skeptical, but since I was going to be within twenty minutes of her home in a few weeks I figured what do I have to lose. Fast forward two weeks and I find myself in a field being introduced to “Ingrid”.
After introductions my new friend asks if I am ready to see Ingrid fly. When I say yes she announces, reeeeady, seeet, GO, and Ingrid launches into the sky (part of me is certain that Ingrid is heading back to Bolivia) but she just circles around us keeping my friend within sight the whole time. After a few trips around she lands back on my friends arm, anxiously waiting her chance to do it again, which she does over and over, always returning to my friends arm, or shoulder, or head, or back. After the initial shock wore off I was able to focus on the task at hand and managed to get some good images of this amazing bird.
I have to admit that every once in a while I just get lucky. The following photograph of a pair of dancing western grebes is one of those situations. I was photographing waterfowl on a small lake in northern Idaho from my floating blind, when I noticed a single grebe off in the distance. Since I did not have many good images of this species I started to slowly work my way towards this bird. As I began to get closer, the bird started to call, worried that perhaps I was causing it stress I stopped, and continued to watch the bird through the peephole in my blind. Then I noticed a second grebe swimming into view from behind some reeds. The two birds slowly swam toward each other and then suddenly, without any preamble, the pair rose up and began rushing across the water in their courtship dance. Purely as a reflex I dove behind my camera and swung the floating blind and camera toward the pair, as I swung around I simultaneously opened the lens aperture up to f4 (knowing that I would need as much shutter speed as I could get to stop the action). As soon as the birds appeared in my viewfinder I held down the shutter button letting the motor-drive fire 8 frames per second while the birds rushed across the water. The whole thing lasted maybe five seconds from beginning to end. I couldn’t believe my luck, I had always wanted to see this courtship display, and to witness it from my floating blind, right at the bird’s eye-level, what an incredible treat. My hands were shaking with adrenaline as I nervously checked the back of the camera to see if I had gotten anything usable. To say that I was overjoyed to see that I had a few good frames would be an understatement.
Lately it seems I have been photographing a lot of faces. Here are a few of my recent favorites.
These first couple are from a recent trip to Yellowstone, where I shot bighorn sheep and bison.
Next we have some bat face images that I made recently. This first image is of the aptly named leaf-nosed bat.
Next is a shot of a vampire bat, in the standard mouth open, showing those scary teeth pose. While it may look as if the teeth are hollow (in order to suck your blood). Vampire bats really only use their razor sharp teeth to make a painless incision (almost never on the neck). Once this incision is made the bat feeds by lapping up the blood with its tongue. As the bat laps up the blood it is also treating the wound with an anticoagulant called draculin which is found in vampire bat’s saliva. This anticoagulant keeps the blood flowing by preventing clotting, allowing the bat more time to feed. The bat’s leaf-shaped nose has evolved to be able to detect where the blood is flowing closest to the skin on it’s prey, this helps the bat decide where best to bite.