06.24.2011 9:45General, Wildlife

June 21st, the Solstice, brought not only the longest day of the year, but also five California Condors to Mt. Hamilton. Birds tagged 0, 44, 51, 81, and 99
(corresponding to birds #400, 444, 451, 481, and 499) are all immature condors out exploring. We hope that at least a couple of these birds will decide Mt. Hamilton will be their future home when they become old enough to establish territories and build nests.

The condors perched on top of the trees near the Visitors Center and on top of the Fire Lookout Tower here at Lick Observatory. The birds were curious and picked at everything and all of them played with the rope on the flag pole at the fire watch tower. I have photos posted on my Picasa web site:

05.29.2010 20:35Wild Flowers, Wildlife

Today I took a drive from Mt. Hamilton to Patterson to see what sort of wildlife I could find along the way.
Final tally – 45 species of birds (including, redwinged, bicolored, and tricolored blackbirds; golden and bald eagles),
5 species of mammals (ground squirrel, tule elk, brush rabbit, black-tailed jackrabbit, and mule deer), 4 species of reptiles (western fence lizard, northern pacific rattlesnake, gopher snake, san joachim coachwhip), and lots of wildflowers (including the biggest bloom of clarkia breweri I’ve ever seen).

Now if only all days could be so fun and relaxing.

05.13.2010 18:01Photography, Wildlife

Spring is here and I’m out with my camera taking photos of birds. A few samples below.

Violet-Green Swallow
Violet-Green Swallow

Rufous Hummingbird
Rufous Hummingbird

Western Kingbird
Western Kingbird

12.17.2009 11:24Photography, Wildlife

As most of my friends know, I traveled to South Africa in November for a safari vacation focusing on birds and mammals. I’ve managed to distill the 4000+ photos into various albums totaling about 500 photos highlighting the various plants, animals, and vistas from the trip. Instead of posting the photos here (which I had done for previous vacations), I’ve decided to give Google’s Picasa web site a try. Luckily there is a handy app for iPhoto to upload the photos and comments so that putting them there is simple. To take a look at some photos, check out

Most mammals I saw I got photos of, but there were a few seen at night or too quickly to train my camera on.
The trip list for Mammals is:
Chacma Baboon
Peter’s Epauletted Fruit Bat
Lesser Bushbaby
Thick-tailed Bushbaby
African Civet
Common Duiker
African Elephant
Small-spotted Genet
Southern Giraffe
Scrub Hare
Spotted Hyena
Black-backed Jackal
Side-striped Jackal
Greater Kudu
Banded Mongoose
Dwarf Mongoose
Slender Mongoose
White-tailed Mongoose
Samango Monkey
Vervet Monkey
Common Reedbuck
Grey Rhebok
White Rhinoceros
Tree Squirrel
Suricate (Meerkat)
Common Waterbuck
Blue Wildebeast
Burchell’s Zebra
Fallow Deer
Long-fingered Bat

Other mammals seen, but not necessarily wild, were: Black Wildebeast, Sable Antelope, and Springbok.

For my birding pals, here is a list of the species I saw (* denotes not a life bird). I have photos of about 200 of these species in the on-line album (doesn’t mean it is a good photo, however, many are just record shots).

Great Crested Grebe
Black-necked Grebe
Little Grebe
White-breasted Cormorant
Reed Cormorant
African Darter
Grey Heron
Black-headed Heron
Goliath Heron
Purple Heron
Little Egret
Yellow-billed Egret
*Cattle Egret
Green-backed Heron
*Black-crowned Night-Heron
White Stork
Woolly-necked Stork
Saddle-billed Stork
Marabou Stork
Yellow-billed Stork
African Sacred Ibis
Southern Bald Ibis
Glossy Ibis
Hadeda Ibis
African Spoonbill
*Greater Flamingo
White-faced Duck
White-backed Duck
Egyptian Goose
Yellow-billed Duck
African Black Duck
Cape Teal
Red-billed Teal
Cape Shoveler
Southern Pochard
Comb Duck
Spur-winged Goose
Maccoa Duck
Hooded Vulture
Cape Vulture
White-backed Vulture
White-headed Vulture
Yellow-billed Kite
Black-shouldered Kite (elanus caeruleus – different than the Australian Black-shouldered Kite elanus axillaris, which I’ve also seen)
Tawny Eagle
Lesser Spotted Eagle
Wahlberg’s Eagle
Marital Eagle
Brown Snake-Eagle
African Fish Eagle
Steppe Buzzard
Jackal Buzzard
Little Sparrowhawk
Black Sparrowhawk
African Goshawk
Dark Chanting Goshawk
African Harrier-Hawk
Lanner Falcon
Eurasian Hobby
Taita Falcon
Amur Falcon
Rock Kestrel
Coqui Francolin
Crested Francolin
Shelley’s Francolin
Red-winged Fracolin
Natal Francolin
Swainson’s Spurfowl
*Helmeted Guineafowl
Kurrichane Buttonquail
Wattled Crane
Blue Crane
Black Crake
Red-knobbed Coot
African Finfoot
Kori Bustard
Denham’s Bustard
Red-crested Korhaan
Black-bellied Bustard
African Jacana
Greater Painted Snipe
Three-banded Plover
Crowned Lapwing
Senegal Lapwing
Blacksmith Lapwing
White-crowned Lapwing
African Wattled Lapwing
Common Sandpiper
Wood Sandpiper
Marsh Sandpiper
Common Greenshank
African Snipe
*Black-winged Stilt
Water Thick-Knee
Bronze-winged Courser
Grey-headed Gull
Whiskered Tern
White-winged Tern
Double-banded Sandgrouse
*Rock Dove
Speckled Pigeon
African Olive-Pigeon
Red-eyed Dove
African Mourning Dove
Cape Turtle-Dove
Laughing Dove
Namaqua Dove
Emerald-spotted Wood-Dove
African Green-Pigeon
Brown-headed Parrot
Krysna Turaco
Purple-crested Turaco
Grey Go-away-bird
Red-chested Cuckoo
Black Cuckoo (heard only, not seen)
Great Spotted Cuckoo
Levaillant’s Cuckoo
Jacobin Cuckoo
Klaas’s Cuckoo
Diderick Cuckoo
Burchell’s Coucal
*Barn Owl
African Scops-Owl
Pearl-spotted Owlet
Spotted Eagle-Owl
Verreaux’s Eagle-Owl
Square-tailed Nightjar
White-rumped Swift
Little Swift
Alpine Swift
African Palm Swift
Speckled Mousebird
Red-faced Mousebird
Narina Trogon
Pied Kingfisher
Giant Kingfisher
Malachite Kingfisher
African Pygmy Kingfisher
Woodland Kingfisher
Brown-hooded Kingfisher
Striped Kingfisher
European Bee-eater
White-fronted Bee-eater
Little Bee-eater
Lilac-breasted Roller
Purple Roller
African Hoopoe
Green Wood-Hoopoe
Common Scimitarbill
African Grey Hornbill
Red-billed Hornbill
Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill
Southern Ground-Hornbill
Black-collared Barbet
Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird
Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird (heard only, not seen)
Crested Barbet
Golden-tailed Woodpecker
Cardinal Woodpecker
Bearded Woodpecker
Rufous-naped Lark
Flappet Lark
Sabota Lark
Eastern Long-billed Lark
Red-capped Lark
Chestnut-backed Sparrowlark
*Barn Swallow
White-throated Swallow
Wire-tailed Swallow
Red-breasted Swallow
Mosque Swallow
Greater Striped Swallow
Lesser Striped Swallow
South African Cliff-Swallow
Rock Martin
Common House Martin
Banded Martin
Black Cuckooshrike
Fork-tailed Drongo
Eurasian Golden Oriole
Black-headed Oriole
Cape Crow
Pied Crow
White-necked Raven
Southern Black Tit
Grey Penduline Tit
Arrow-marked Babbler
Dark-capped Bulbul
Sombre Greenbul
Kurrichane Thrush
Karoo Thrush
Orange Ground-Thrush
Groundscraper Thrush
Cape Rock-Thrush
Sentinel Rock-Thrush
Mountain Wheatear
Capped Wheatear
Buff-streaked Chat
Familiar Chat
Mocking Cliff-Chat
Ant-eating Chat
African Stonechat
Chorister Robin-Chat
White-browed Robin-Chat
Cape Robin-Chat
White-throated Robin-Chat
White-starred Robin
White-browed Scrub-Robin
Bearded Scrub-Robin
Willow Warbler
Yellow-throated Woodland-Warbler
Bar-throated Apalis
Yellow-breasted Apalis
Long-billed Crombec
Yellow-bellied Eremomela
Burnt-necked Eremomela
Green-backed Camaroptera
Cape Grassbird
Zitting Cisticola
Wing-snapping Cisticola (heard only, not seen)
Rattling Cisticola
Levaillant’s Cisticola
Croaking Cisticola
Lazy Cisticola
Tawny-flanked Prinia
Black-chested Prinia
Drakensberg Prinia
Spotted Flycatcher
African Dusky Flycatcher
Ashy Flycatcher
Southern Black Flycatcher
Pale Flycatcher
Fiscal Flycatcher
Cape Batis
Chinspot Batis
African Paradise-Flycatcher
African Pied Wagtail
Mountain Wagtail
Cape Wagtail
African Pipit
Long-billed Pipit
Yellow-breasted Pipit
Cape Longclaw
Yellow-throated Longclaw
Lesser Grey Shrike
Common Fiscal
Red-backed Shrike
Magpie Shrike
Southern Boubou
Black-backed Puffback
Brown-crowned Tchagra
Black-crowned Tchagra
Orange-breasted Bush-Shrike
Grey-headed Bush-Shrike
White-crested Helmet-Shrike
Retz’s Helmet-Shrike
*Common Myna
Pied Starling
Wattled Starling
Violet-backed Starling
Burchell’s Starling
Cape Glossy Starling
Greater Blue-eared Starling
Red-winged Starling
Red-billed Oxpecker
Malachite Sunbird
Marico Sunbird
Southern Double-collared Sunbird
Greater Double-collared Sunbird
White-bellied Sunbird
Scarlet-chested Sunbird
Amethyst Sunbird
Collared Sunbird
Cape White-eye
Red-billed Buffalo Weaver
*House Sparrow
Cape Sparrow
Southern Grey-headed Sparrow
Yellow-throated Petronia
Thick-billed Weaver
Spectacled Weaver
Village Weaver
Cape Weaver
Southern Masked-Weaver
Lesser Masked-Weaver
Golden Weaver
Red-headed Weaver
Cuckoo Finch
Red-billed Quelea
Southern Red Bishop
Yellow-crowned Bishop
Yellow Bishop
Fan-tailed Widowbird
Red-collared Widowbird
Long-tailed Widowbird
Green-winged Pytilia
Green Twinspot
African Firefinch
Blue Waxbill
Common Waxbill
Red-headed Finch
Bronze Mannikin
Pin-tailed Whydah
Village Indigobird
Yellow-fronted Canary
Cape Canary
Forest Canary
Streaky-headed Seed-Eater
Golden-breasted Bunting
Cinnamon-breasted Bunting

315 species seen, only 10 of which weren’t lifers. Wow! What a trip!

02.17.2009 17:02Wildlife

For those of my friends who are birders, here is the list of birds I saw in Australia in January. Almost all the birds on the list were lifers for me. Birds that were not lifers are marked with an *.

Orange-footed Scrubfowl
Australian Brush-turkey
Australian Pelican
Little Black Cormorant
Magpie Goose
Pacific Black Duck
Australian Wood Duck
Green Pygmy-goose
Buff-banded Rail
White-browed Crake
Purple Swamphen
Dusky Moorhen
Great-billed Heron
Great Egret*
Striated Heron
Black Bittern
Australian White Ibis
Australian Bustard
Bar-tailed Godwit
Great Knot
Curlew Sandpiper
Masked Lapwing
Black-winged Stilt
Silver Gull
Black-shouldered Kite
Black Kite
Whistling Kite
White-bellied Sea-Eagle
Grey Goshawk
Brown Falcon
Australian Hobby
Nankeen Kestrel
Pied Imperial Pigeon
White-headed Pigeon
Rock Dove*
Brown Cookoo-Dove
Peaceful Dove
Bar-shouldered Dove
Emerald Dove
Crested Pigeon
Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoo
Sulphur-crested Cockatoo
Rainbow Lorikeet
Scaly-breasted Lorikeet
Australian King-Parrot
Red-winged Parrot
Crimson Rosella
Pale-headed Rosella
Channel-billed Cuckoo
Pheasant Coucal
White-rumped Swiftlet
Azure Kingfisher
Little Kingfisher
Laughing Kookaburra
Blue-winged Kookaburra
Forest Kingfisher
Buff-breasted Paradise-Kingfisher
Noisy Pitta
White-throated Treecreeper
Superb Fairy-wren
Variegated Fairy-wren
Red-backed Fairy-wren
Atherton Scrubwren
Large-billed Scrubwren
White-throated Gerygone
Brown Gerygone
Large-billed Gerygone
Brown Thornbill
Red Wattlebird
Helmeted Friarbird
Little Friarbird
Blue-faced Honeyeater
Macleay’s Honeyeater
Noise Miner
Yellow-spotted Honeyeater
Graceful Honeyeater
Bridled Honeyeater
Yellow-faced Honeyeater
Yellow Honeyeater
White-throated Honeyeater
White-cheeked Honeyeater
New Holland Honeyeater
Brown Honeyeater
Brown-backed Honeyeater
Eastern Spinebill
Dusky Honeyeater
Grey-crowned Babbler
Eastern Yellow Robin
Grey Whistler
Rufous Whistler
Rufous Fantail
Willie Wagtail
Leaden Flycatcher
Shining Flycatcher
Spectacled Monarch
Spangled Drongo
Yellow Oriole
Australasian Figbird
Great Bowerbird
White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike
Varied Triller
White-breasted Woodswallow
Black Butcherbird
Pied Butcherbird
Australian Magpie
Pied Currawong
Australian Raven
Welcome Swallow
House Sparrow*
Red-browed Finch
Chestnut-breasted Mannikin
Olive-backed (Yellow-bellied) Sunbird
Metallic Starling
Common Myna*

122 total species, only 5 I had seen elsewhere. My life list for birds is now much longer!

02.09.2009 0:27Photography, Wildlife

I took a great vacation to Eastern Australia, visiting Sydney and the Blue Mountains, then North to Cairns and Daintree. The weather was hot, though otherwise very nice, with only occasional rain in the
Daintree rainforest. I’ve put a photo album of some of my best and interesting photos showing lots of the things I saw. I like nature and photographing wildlife seems to be my focus when traveling. In Australia you don’t usually see many mammals as they are mostly nocturnal. Same seems to be true for the amphibians. Thus, my photos are mostly of insects, arachnids, and birds as they are what you see most
during the day. Click on Australia2009 at right in the Travel links to see the photos.

02.22.2008 21:42Photography, Wildlife

The morning of Feb 9th, the Lyubov Orlova arrived at Almirante Brown research station. We went ashore (waking up the research crew – oops!) and there weren’t so many penguins here as at other locations. I was in the first group ashore and followed Emily, one of the staff, up to the top of the glacier to admire the views. Akos, the expedition ornithologist, found a safe route to the top of the rocky tor and I quickly climbed up after him. Fabulous views in every direction! The nearby glacier was fairly active and created nice cracks and booms and I saw a small avalanche high on the mountain, but very little ice was actually calving from the glacier into the bay. When the glacier was quiet, everything else was still and I heard a whale spouting far below in Paradise Bay. I pointed it out to Emily and she identified it as a minke whale. There were also some fledgling blue-eyed shags that had just gone in the water for the first time and were quite sure what they were doing, which was very fun to watch.

Of course, our time on shore didn’t last forever and had to head back down off the glacier. It was a steep climb up and most people decided to slide down the hill. I thought I’d walk down, but part way down decided to slide down myself. Great fun – I should have started at the top! Even though I had to leave the station the very calm water of Paradise Bay allowed us to take zodiac rides around the ice bergs and the colony of nesting blue-eyed shags. There was also a relaxed leopard seal lounging on one of the icebergs, so we got a very good look at one of the top predators of the antarctic.

Next stop was Dallman Bay and the Melchior Islands. Dallman Bay is a prime place to do whale watching and we weren’t disappointed. Humpback whales were in the area (I saw one breach – always an amazing sight!) but the main reason we were there was to take zodiac tours around the Melchior Islands. Sadly we did not go ashore here (little did I know that morning that Almirante Brown would be the last time I would set foot on Antarctica), but seeing the scenery, including some caves underneath the glaciers, and the antics of the numerous fur seals was wonderful. After the zodiac tours, we started our sail north across the Drake Passage while watching the Sun set over the mountains and glaciers of Antarctica. This beautiful site was a fitting end to a visit to the most remote continent.

This time the Drake Passage was calmer, but still not the “Drake Lake”. Luckily, everyone had their sea legs and motion sickness medicines and everyone enjoyed the lectures and meals on the way back. Of course I spent lots of time on the deck watching for pelagic birds. I didn’t see anything I hadn’t seen before, but the size and grace of the albatrosses is amazing and watching them sail over the waves is mesmerizing.

As we headed north the air started getting warmer and we crossed the Antarctic Convergence which is the meeting of the cold southern waters with the warmer northern waters. The most surprising moment of the Drake Passage was on the afternoon of Feb 11th when we were still a long way from land – a female Kestrel was following the boat. Even better, she landed on the railing of the Lyubov Orlova very near me. I got some fabulous photos of her and I’m wondering how she ended up so far from shore. Before dinner there was a final cocktail party with the expedition staff and crew of the ship where we all celebrated a fabulous trip.

A little before sunset we caught first sight of Argentina and soon entered the Beagle Channel. By sunrise we were approaching the dock at Ushuaia
, all of us up early to leave the ship and head along our separate ways. As luck would have it, I shared flights to Buenos Aires and on to Dallas, Texas with my new friends Wanda and Joe, making the long flights and layovers more pleasant.

I was home on Feb 13th and looking forward to seeing my brother (who even with a horrible cold, still picked me up at the San Francisco airport) and sharing my adventure with him and my friends here in California and elsewhere.

02.18.2008 18:50Photography, Wildlife

After two days on the Drake Passage and a briefing on how to get in and out of the zodiacs, we are finally at Antarctica at the
South Shetland Islands. Our first stop on Feb 6th was Aitcho Island. This island had abundant wildlife and beautiful views, especially from the saddle on the hike to see the southern elephant seals. I had so many great photos I had a hard time selecting
those most representative of what I had seen, but I managed to narrow it down, so take a look at my Aitcho Island Photos. Aitcho Island has some of everything – birds, seals, whale bones, scenery – and was a fantastic way to get introduced to Antarctica. Of course the penguins and seals were the main attractions and I think everyone was taken with the adorable gentoo and chinstrap penguin chicks. The chicks are curious and if you sit still they may waddle up to you, nibble your gloves or jacket, and might even climb on you. The other thing that overwhelms you when you arrive is the fishy smell of penguin guano (which is pink due to their krill diet). The wildlife I saw there was:
*Gentoo Penguin
*Chinstrap Penguin
*Snowy Sheathbill
Brown Skua
Southern Giant Petrel (including the white morph)
*Leopard Seal
Fur Seal
*Southern Elephant Seal

We then sailed by Livingston Island on the way to Deception Island, which is an active volcano (last eruption was in the 1970s). We sailed into the main caldera via Neptune’s Bellows and had nice views of Whaler’s Bay, an old whaling station. Our destination was Telefon Bay, known for having volcanicly heated water and the possibility of swimming in warm water. There was no sign of warm water at Telefon Bay, but a signs of warm water nearby, so Cara, the expedition leader said if there was time, we would head to the other site for a warm polar plunge. Unfortunately the crane to launch the zodiacs broke and the Russian crew worked hard and fast to get it fixed and at one point I saw them take out a life boat (whether to test as an option to get us to shore or some other reason I’m not sure). After about 30 or 40 minutes they had the crane fixed and we were on our way to the shore. There is little wildlife at Deception Island, but the views of the snow covered lunar landscape are worth the trip (see my Deception Island Photos).
I took the hike up to the top of the most recent caldera as a light snow fell. Due to the crane problem, there was no time to go to a different site for a swim, so many of us (yes, me included) decided to take a polar plunge anyway in the cold (2 degree C) water – I figured I’d regret not doing it or regret doing it, so I had to decide which I would regret more. Insanely, I stripped down to my bathing suit, leaving my parka, snow pants, and clothes on the rocky beach and ran into the water. I dunked myself up to the neck and then ran back out of the water to a waiting towel to dry off and get dressed again. I was surprised at how invigorating it was and it wasn’t nearly as cold or unpleasant as I thought it would be and I’m really glad I did it (I just hope one of the other people on the cruise got a photo of me actually taking the plunge!). Cara and the ship’s doctor, Michael, duly noted that I had done the polar plunge and gave me a certificate stating I had suffered from temporary insanity and taken the polar plunge.

Once everyone was back on board the Lyubov Orlova, we headed towards the Antarctic Pennisula and an early morning (5:30 am) excursion to Cuverville Island. This was an extra excursion for the most active of us because the weather was so calm and nice. Watching sunrise surrounded by penguins and with views of mountains and icebergs was a real treat.

After breakfast we went to Danco Island. More gentoo penguins and some brazen snowy sheathbills entertained us. At one point I saw a snowy sheathbill pick up a paintbrush that Colin wasn’t using at the moment, so he had to quickly grab it back (apparently he had chosen a spot too near the sheathbill’s nest for the bird’s comfort). I also took a hike up to the top of the island’s glacier to admire the views.

We then headed over to Neko Harbor. More gentoo penguins greeted us as well as spectacular views of icebergs. The water was absolutely calm, so reflections of mountains and icebergs while taking zodiac tours was a real treat. The calm water also made it easy to see humpback whales and penguins in the water (I got a great photo of gentoo penguins porpoising). There were also weddell and crabeater seals, which I hadn’t seen before. Neko Harbor has an Argentine rescue shelter and I finally asked the expedition staff what the red coolers they bring ashore every excursion were. Turns out they are emergency supplies (blankets, food, etc) just in case weather gets too bad or there are equipment problems and we can’t get back to the boat. Apparently any shore excursion requires such supplies be provided. Before leaving Neko Harbor we had a BBQ dinner on the top deck (yes, outside in the snow!). The food was good and the mood festive, so everyone had fun.

02.17.2008 22:32Photography, Wildlife

The morning of Feb 2nd, Vennie and I caught an early flight down to Ushuaia, Argentina, the southernmost city in the world. We checked in at the Hotel Albatross and got a quick lunch at the hotel restaurant (a very tasty, if not cheap, meal). It was a bright sunny day in Ushuaia, so we decided to explore the town. We started at the port to see if our ship to Antarctica, the Lyubov Orlova, was in port yet. It wasn’t there yet, but I saw a number of birds and lovely sites, including going to the End of the World Museum. Ushuaia is on the Beagle Channel and surrounded by the southern end of the Andes Mountains. Knowing that the next day we’d be boarding the ship, I decided that night would be a good time to put on the sea-sickness patch (I get motion sickness on just about anything that moves – so the Drake Passage the next day filled me with dread with its legendary rough waters).

The next morning we joined the rest of the Orlova passengers on a guided tour of Tierra del Fuego National Park. The views of the Rio Pipo, Mount Condor, and Chile were phenomenal. Take a look at my photos of Ushuaia and Tierra del Fuego to see the wildlife and views of the city, prot, and national park.
For those birders among you, I saw a quite nice selection of birds (asterisks for the lifers in list):
House Sparrow
*Upland Goose
*Dolphin Gull
*South American Tern
Neotropic Cormorant
*Rock Shag
*Kelp Goose
Kelp Gull
*Flying Steamer-Duck
*Flightless Steamer-Duck
*King Shag
Black-crowned Night Heron
Rufous-collared Sparrow
Chimango Caracara
Crested Caracara
*Great Grebe
*Buff-necked Ibis
*Thorn-tailed Rayadito
*Imperial Shag
*Dark-bellied Cinclodes
*Fire-eyed Diucon
*Austral Negrito
Southern Lapwing

By late afternoon we were on board the Lyubov Orlova and in our cabin. Of course a welcome cocktail party to introduce the crew and expedition staff was the first activity and then off to dinner
as we ship off into the Beagle Channel.

The winds are pretty high and it is clear that the Drake Passage is not going to be a calm Drake Lake the next day (Feb 4th). I wake up in the morning (the wake-up call says that we are having 2 to 5 meter swell) and soon realize that while the motion sickness medicine is working, it isn’t quite doing the whole job. I skip breakfast and eventually drag myself up to the dinning room to have some tea.
Apparently about a third of the passengers are feeling like me or worse. I find that the fresh air outside helps, but I wasn’t really improving. By lunchtime I decide to take bonine in addition to the scopolamine patch and an hour later I’m feeling great. The seas calmed down some (maybe max waves of 3 or 4 meters instead of 5) and felt ready to take my camera out and try to identify some pelagic birds. Holding onto the rails for safety I discover the albatrosses love the high winds (over a dozen Wandering Albatrosses are following the ship, as well as Giant Petrels and Black-browed Albatrosses and other birds). Problem is trying to get photos from a moving ship while holding onto the railings for dear life. At least I saw the birds, even if I didn’t get great photos. Of course, to keep us occupied, there were great lectures on the wildlife, history, and geology of Antarctica. I paid particular attention to the ornithologist, Akos, since he told us how to tell all the pelagic birds apart.

The second day of the Drake Passage (Feb 5th) was calmer and most everyone was feeling better and at meals. Unfortunately, the birds were less abundant. However, with the ship tossing less I was able to do more photography, take a look a few Drake Passage photos.
The birds I saw on the Drake Passage were:
*Wandering Albatross
*Black-browed Albatross
*Southern Giant Petrel
*Northern Giant Petrel
*White-chinned Petrel
*Cape Petrel
*Brown Skua
Wilson’s Storm-Petrel
*Black-bellied Storm-Petrel
*Antarctic Prion

We also saw many whale spouts, but had no close encounters with whales, just some distant views of humpback and fin whales. I got close views of hourglass dolphins and a fur seal.

02.17.2008 19:05General, Photography, Wildlife

After neglecting the blog for months and months, I now have something to write about. I traveled to Argentina and Antarctica. Words cannot describe how amazing the trip was, but pictures may help. I took about 2000 pictures and have distilled that down to 120 of my favorite, best, or most interesting photos. Take a look at the Argentina and Antarctica Photos to get an idea of what my trip was like. With luck over the next week or so I’ll put the expanded set of images for each site I visited online with helpful commentary in the blog (though don’t hold your breath – as history shows, I rarely actually update this blog).

The trip started on January 29th with flying down to Buenos Aires, Argentina and arrive on the morning of Jan 30th. After checking into the Hotel Colon, which sits right on the plaza with the Obelisco, a monument commemorating the 400th anniversary of the founding of Buenos Aires. I spent the afternoon walking around the Cemeterio de la Recoleta, which is famous for Eva Peron’s tomb. The monuments, mausoleums, and statues are impressive and you can spend quite a lot of time searching for the tombs of famous Argentinians.
Afterwards, I wandered the city, taking in the parks, going to the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, and admiring the statues and architecture of the city. Take a look at my photos of Buenos Aires to get an idea of what the city is like.

The next day (Jan 31st) I went bird watching at Costanera Sur, a nature reserve near downtown Buenos Aires. I hired bird guide Sergio Corbet (recommended through birdchat and birdingpal) and was not disappointed. The day was beautiful (if a little on the warm side) and I saw plenty of birds and Sergio’s knowledge and affability made the day a true pleasure. Photos of many of the birds (and other wildlife) I saw are at my Buenos Aires Animals photo page. For those of you interested in birds, here is the full list of what I saw (and new lifers are marked with an asterisk – 81 species, 60 lifers):
Neotropic Cormorant
Rufescent Tiger-Heron
Black-crowned Night Heron
*Cocoi Heron
Great Egret
*White-faced Ibis
Roseate Spoonbill
*White-faced Whistling Duck
*Fulvous Whistling Duck
*Coscoroba Swan
*Black-necked Swan
*Red Shoveler
*Silver Teal
*Yellow-billed Pintail
Southern Crested-Caracara
*Chimango Caracara
*Grey-necked Wood-Rail
*Plumbeous Rail
*Red-gartered Coot
*Wattled Jacana
*White-backed Stilt
Southern Lapwing
Greater Yellowlegs
Lesser Yellowlegs
*Brown-hooded Gull
*Kelp Gull
Rock Pigeon
*Picazuro Pigeon
*Eared Dove
*Nanday (Black-hooded) Parakeet
Monk Parakeet
*Dark-billed Cuckoo
*Guira Cuckoo
*Glittering-bellied Emerald
*Gilded Sapphire
*Checkered Woodpecker
*Green-barred Woodpecker
*Field Flicker
*Rufous Hornero
*Freckle-breasted Thornbird
*Narrow-billed Woodcreeper
*Small-billed Elaenia
*White-bellied Tyrannulet
*Warbling Doradito
*Bran-coloured Flycatcher
*Spectacled Tyrant
*Yellow-browed Tyrant
*Cattle Tyrant
Tropical Kingbird
*Fork-tailed Flycatcher
*Streaked Flycatcher
Great Kiskadee
*Red-eyed Vireo
*Grey-breasted Martin
*Brown-chested Martin
*White-rumped Swallow
House Wren
*Masked Gnatcatcher
*Rufous-bellied Thrush
*Creamy-bellied Thrush
*Chalk-browed Mockingbird
*Blue-and-yellow Tanager
Hepatic Tanager
*Black-and-rufous Warbling-Finch
*Double-collared Seedeater
Saffron Yellow-Finch
Yellow-billed Cardinal
Red-crested Cardinal
*Rufous-collared Sparrow
*Golden-billed Saltator
*Glaucus-blue Grosbeak
*Epaulet Oriole
*Yellow-winged Blackbird
*Shiny Cowbird
*Hooded Siskin
European Starling
House Sparrow

Sergio and I rested in the middle of the day by having a traditional argentine BBQ lunch at a great restaurant at the old port of Buenos Aires. This area of the city is being refurbished and the old warehouses being turned into shopping centers and apartments. At the end of the day I was tired and happy and was content to get a quick dinner and some sleep after sifting through my photos.

I slept in and was about to head out when my roommate for the Antarctica cruise, Vennie Anderson, arrived at the hotel. Once Vennie got settled in the room, we went to breakfast and then started a walking tour to the Plaza de Mayo, seeing Casa Rosada and lots of monuments. Vennie was exhausted from traveling, so she went back to the hotel while I continued wandering around the city.

That evening we headed to a dinner and Tango show at El Querandi and enjoyed great food, dancing, and music.

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