.All Trips / Chile / South America

Exploring the Fjords of Patagonia: 3) Bird-watching at Tucker’s Islet

00 Tucker Islets

After our morning hike in Tierra del Fuego we returned to the Australis for lunch and some rest, during which time our ship re-positioned itself in Ainsworth Bay.  Our afternoon excursion was to be entirely on a Zodiac. This is obviously a slower process than zipping us onshore for the morning’s hike as the supply of Zodiacs was limited.

The Zodiacs took us to a small cluster of islands known as Tucker’s Islets.  These lie within the Strait of Magellan and are rich in bird life (note:  Magellan was the Portuguese explorer who visited this region 500 years ago).  We would slowly circle these islands in the Zodiac to observe the different types of birds, slowing to a stop when possible, …

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.All Trips / Florida / North America / Southeastern USA

A Few Photos of Life in the Everglades

07 Shark Valley 12-2018 (47)

The slowly flowing, warm, River of Grass is teaming with life, although at times it’s hard to see it.  A recommended place to spot wildlife within Everglades National Park is in Shark Valley.  There is a lengthy elevated bike path in the area, which is shared by a tram.  You can rent a bike and cycle around, stopping to see the alligators and birds, or you can sit back in the tram and let a biologist/guide educate you about what you’re seeing.  Both options are very rewarding.  There is no better place to immerse yourself in this UNESCO World Heritage ecosystem.

We visited Shark Valley a few months ago and had a wonderful experience.  I previously published a …

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“Pic of the Week”, October 18, 2019: A Swirl of Color

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I walked past this scarlet macaw preening itself, and had to stop and enjoy a display of nature’s palette.  Scarlet macaws are amazingly beautiful birds!  In the act of cleaning itself, the bird’s multicolored feathers were moving and beautifully displayed.  I tried to capture some of this brilliance in these images — hopefully with at least an element of success.

(Click on thumbnails to enlarge photos, right arrows to advance)

 

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“Pic of the Week”, October 4, 2019: White Ibis, Florida

01 White Ibis

I’d never seen White Ibis before visiting Florida years ago.  It’s a rather common bird in the Gulf Coast region, extending from the Mid-Atlantic coast to Mexico.  The white ibis prefers living around marshy and swampy ground.  It’s obviously a white bird, with pale facial skin and pink beak and legs.  Apparently the legs turn scarlet during mating season.  Males are larger and have longer bills than females. 

Their diet consists primarily of small aquatic insects and fish, including crayfish, although these freeloaders were enjoying a meal provided by Flamingo Gardens.

(Click on thumbnails to enlarge, right arrow to advance slideshow)

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.All Trips / North America / Southeastern USA

Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge

02 Merritt Island NWR Little Blue Heron (46)

During our last visit to Florida, my father and I drove from our base in Orlando to explore some of Florida’s east coast.  Our destination for the day was the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, not far from Titusville.  

This is a massive preserve, some 140,000 acres (57,000 ha), situated on the same island as the Kennedy Space Center.  Because of its close proximity to the Space Center, there are rare times when NASA restricts access to this National Wildlife Refuge (e.g. when the space shuttle was landing in Florida).

Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge

Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge

The topography of the refuge is flat, but still there are a mixture of habitats including saltwater and freshwater marshes, dunes, forests and scrub.  Here …

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“Pic of the Week”, November 30, 2018. The Old Parliament Building, Colombo

00 Old Parliament Building (4)

A building that’s impossible to miss when you visit the coastal area of downtown Colombo is the nation’s first Parliament building (a.k.a. the “Old Parliament Building”).  Facing the Galle Face Green and the sea (and now the ever-growing Marina development complex), the building is situated on reclaimed land just south of the Fort District and World Trade Center towers.  Initially the building was home to the Legislative Council of Ceylon and was witness to country’s transition from colonial state to self-rule in 1947. 

Completed in 1930, this Neo-Baroque style building was home to the country’s legislature for 53 years.  During the country’s prolonged Civil War, Parliament was moved to a a more secure complex in nearby Sri Jayawardenepura in 1983.

The building …

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“Pic of the Week”, July 27, 2017: Saddle-bill Stork, Botswana

Sandibe 2011 505 Sandibe. Saddlebill stork

Among many wonderful memories of being on safari in Botswana are those of its many magnificent birds.  These include our featured subject, the saddle-bill stork, which lives in sub-Saharan Africa.

These are huge long-legged birds, attaining a height of almost 5 ft (150 cm) and weighing up to 17 lbs (8 kg).  The birds have a wingspan of up to 9 ft (2.7m), so they are easy to spot at a distance. They are tallest and most vividly colored of Africa’s storks.  The tend to live on at the edge of forests, where they have access to tall trees (on which they build their nests) and marshes (wherein they feed).  Their diet includes fish, beetles, frogs, reptiles and small mammals. 

The bird’s …

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“Pic of the Week”, July 1st, 2016: White Pelican at Victoria Beach

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It’s Canada’s birthday today — Happy 149th to all my Canadian friends and relatives, eh?!  What better way to celebrate than to feature the American White Pelican, but in Canada.  Highly symbolic of the identity crisis many in the country have, feeling neither American nor Canadian.

Pelicans are great birds to observe in nature.  There’s nothing like watching a group of them catch a thermal and ride it for hundreds of yards, looking more like a formation of fighter aircraft than living creatures.  Among the largest of North America’s birds, the American White Pelican is almost pure white, but with black feathers in its wings visible only when flying.  Immature birds, like the one featured above, often have some dusky feathers …

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