Hope to see you there!
Some of you knew that I recently (well, already a couple months ago) went to Oman, for those of you that did not, it was for the first stage of shooting for a film about Arabian Leopards, their plight, and the Omani researchers that are studying them. Terra Mater, an Austrian production company is funding the film, as well as ARTE, and the crew is made up of of people from all over the world. It was a great experience and I return with many more friends than I when I left.
Ironically, though most definitely not a coincidence, we were filming only a few miles from the Hawf Protected Area in Yemen, where I spent three months looking for Arabian Leopards. This time, we were in Oman, just across the border. The political situation is of course much safer, though as I have stated before, I was never in any danger in Yemen, mainly because I was so far east from all the trouble zones. Arabian Leopards have also been studied for a longer period of time here. In fact, this is the birthplace of research on these majestic creatures. Hadi Al Hakmani is the principal researcher for leopards in Oman having studied them for over twelve years; it was a true honor meeting him. His love for the animals and his work was inspiring and truly genuine. The same goes for Khalid, who has also been dedicating his life towards ensuring and bettering the conservation efforts for these critically endangered animals. Having gotten to spend time with both of them, and counting them as friends, made the trip worthwhile by itself.
Since this was the first trip, I’ll fill you in on more of the details after completion of the project, but for now a couple of pictures.
Happy New Year!
Just a quick post for another free wildlife photography wallpaper. Just click on the image for the full sized version or use the link Free Nature Wallpaper – Snowy Egret.
As many of you know, I love to take pictures with digital SLR camera traps. I am still learning a ton about it and people are always getting new and exciting pictures. So I wanted to point out that the BBC released the winners for this years camera trap competition. There are amazing pictures in their gallery — I would highly recommend checking them out!
Two of my images made it as well, both as commended wildlife portraits. The Genet from Yemen.
and our local Bobcat from Aptos.
As you can see, the other people in the group are amazing camera trappers, it is an honor to be commended and have my photos displayed alongside theirs.
Ps: My personal favorite is the snow leopard (what can I say, I am a sucker for cats!)
It’s been too long since I have posted some digital SLR camera trap shots so I figured I’d get my butt moving and show you what has been walking through the woods as of late.
I have had the first picture in my mind for years, I wanted to get a deer jumping over a big log. I set the camera up over a year ago but kept only getting deer butts instead of them jumping at the camera. Patience finally paid off as this buck jumped our way.
Some animals prefer to take the easier way apparently:
A little bit further down the path I set up another camera trap set-up. The first thing to come by was the ever reliable Mule Deer (or Black-tailed Deer, which ever name you prefer):
…and then, my first Coyote image using camera traps. I know, I know, for my fellow camera trappers this is not a big deal, but when you can add another species to your camera trapping list you are jumping up and down, running down the street (it leads to some awkward and perplexed stares from the neighbors).
That’s it for now, but hopefully more coming soon!
This Endangered Neighbor was taken off the US endangered species list in 2009 due to their population rising to what authorities consider to be large enough numbers. As we all know, this doesn’t mean they are in the clear, but so long as we make sure we don’t repeat history, Brown Pelicans should have a stable future. To do this, we need to look at that history to see how we got Brown Pelicans in trouble in the first place.
DDT was one of many contaminates released into the environment after world war II. The problem with DDT was (and still is) that it causes thin egg shells. Brown Pelicans incubate their eggs by standing on them. Because of the thin egg shells caused by the pesticide, pelicans were literally crushing their own eggs. In 1969 only 12 of 300 nests contained whole eggs on West Anacapa Island (the only breeding colony in California), the rest were crushed. In fact, the nearshore waters of southern California have experienced the highest levels of environmental contamination by DDT anywhere in the world. This was not only caused by local agriculture, but by the Montrose Chemical Company which was discharging hundreds of pounds of DDT directly into the southern California oceans.
In 1972 the use of pesticides like DDT was banned in the US (though we are still the number one producer of DDT, now shipping it abroad), which was probably the biggest historical factor in bringing Brown Pelicans back.
As you can see from the image above, chemical pollution is still a problem, not from DDT, but from agricultural and industrial run-off.
Plastic pollution is a constantly increasing modern threat since pelicans often consume them, thinking it is food. Save our Shores reports that they pick up 60 lbs of trash per beach clean up. That is nuts!!! Not only that, but they average around 385 lbs of garbage per river clean up, so you can imagine how much trash gets swept into the ocean that we simply don’t even know about.
The nice part about this step, is that in reality, it is relatively easy. There are a few different easy steps you can take to help Brown Pelicans survive.
- Eat organic foods (therefore eliminating agricultural run-off)
- Buy re-usable bottles and bags, eliminating plastic bags and bottles.
- Throw your trash away in proper containers, but re-use as much as possible.
-Volunteer with Save our Shores (check out their calendar for their frequent clean up days)
…. see, all those steps are super easy!
If we all take these small steps we can ensure to be graced by the beauty of Brown Pelicans for years to come! To see more Brown Pelican images, besides the images below, visit the Brown Pelican Portfolio!
Here is this month’s free wallpaper! Taken in the Hawf Protected Area in Yemen.
Here is the direct link from which you can download it: Wallpaper – Grey Heron at Sunset or you can click on the image above.
As always, please only use it as a wallpaper for a personal computer. Otherwise, I can only use really really really really boring pictures, or I have to stop all together.
I saw this idea on my good friend Jeff Swanson’s blog and decided it was so great, I was going to rip it off and copy it (so go ver their, read his blog and download his landscape wallpapers). I’ll try to do this a monthly thing but all of you who know me, know that that means it will more likely be every other month. Anyways, the point is that the picture below is free for download to be used as a wallpaper on a personal computer.
Here is the direct link from which you can download it: Wallpaper – Silhouetted Sandhill Cranes in Flight
Please only use it as a wallpaper for a personal computer. Otherwise, I can only use really really really really boring pictures, or I have to stop all together.
Just quick announcement. I started a meet-up group for nature photography. Just a place to announce get-togethers, workshops, exhibit openings, exhibit viewing, photo walks and lots of other fun activities for people that share an interest in wildlife, nature, animal, landscape or other related photography. Most of the meet-ups will be announced here as well but I in case you want direct messages, join — its free!
Our most Endangered Neighbor is the California Condor with less than 200 individuals in the wild (There are about 181 in captivity). Like the Sea Otter, the low California Condor numbers are due mainly to historical reasons. Many were shot since they were seen as threats to livestock (sadly not true as they are strict carrion eaters) and for museum specimens. Then, as for so many other bird species, came the problem of pesticides, specifically DDT. It caused their egg shells to be too thin, causing them to break.
Though Condor numbers are on the rise the still face modern day threats:
- Poaching is still an issue (how is this possible?!?!)
- Habitat destruction
- Dying of lead poisoning due to eating hunter killed carrion that contains lead bullets
Though these guys are not as cuddly and cute looking as our beloved otters, there are still people who are devoting their life to saving this amazing species. Mainly, the people from the Ventana Wildlife Society’s Condor Project are responsible for their increase in numbers by managing and conducting a few different projects.
- They collect thin-shelled, wild-laid eggs and replace them with viable captive-bred eggs
- They treat lead-poisoned birds
- They monitor the safety and health of each condor through radio telemetry
In fact, the wild flock in central California, aka along the Big Sur coast is a direct result of their dynamic efforts.
Now as always, there are plenty of little steps we can all take to help condors out. Trust me, if for no other reason than this one, you want these guys to survive to see one of them soar near you. Their impressive nine foot wing span is awe inspiring!
So here are the steps you and me should be taking!
- Adopt a Condor
- Immediately report poaching activities to the Department of Fish and Game at 1 888 DFG-CALTIP (888 334-2258)
- Hunt with non-lead bullets
- Finally, there are limited and irregular volunteer opportunities with the Ventana Wilderness Society (call them at 831-455-9514)