Snow Leopards: Livestock Insurance: A Game Changer for People and Animals

March 4, 2018

This award winning video describing a wonderful program by the Snow Leopard Trust shows the effectiveness of working with local communities, especially those who lose livestock to snow leopard attacks, can do amazing things to prevent the number one threat to these beautiful animals today, retribution killing.

The video made by a staff of three beat out videos from such major organizations as BBC to win the best video showing the interaction of big cats and people.

Be forewarned, there is a disturbing scene that does show dead snow leopards.

But, the outlook for this program is fantastic, especially since it is run by the community that it helps and that in turn helps the snow leopard to survive.

Livestock Insurance: A Game Changer for People and Animals

40 Million Badass Birders Just Declared War On Oregon Terrorists

January 7, 2016

Woo Hoo!! Go for it my fellow birders. Wish I could join you!

40 Million Badass Birders Just Declared War On Oregon Terrorists

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Seriously Power Walking!!

February 8, 2008

This is really cool!!

Taking People Power to a New Level

I was expecting at the beginning of the article that the device would require more effort while walking, else where is the power coming from. However, if you read the article, the claim is that it is actually reducing your effort while walking since you need the effort to slow your leg down at the end of the stride.

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Becoming Crepuscular for Better Wildlife Viewing

December 1, 2007

Crepuscular is an adjective used to describe wildlife that is primarily active at dawn and dusk. Since a large amount of truly diurnal wildlife has already been killed or has been scared into becoming crepuscular, dawn and dusk are good times to view a large percentage of the wildlife you have a chance of seeing. Nocturnal wildlife might also be reasonably easy to view, if our eyes worked better at night. Spotlighting at night can be a good way to view wildlife. Many areas with wildlife viewing do spotlight for wildlife at night. Many do not because of regulations about disturbing the wildlife. Either way, though this is a good way or even the only way to view many species, the viewing is not as good as having actual daylight.

One more advantage to being crepuscular is the possibility of getting views like this Adirondack sunrise photo taken from our canoe. Believe it or not, this photo was taken with film. The scan does not accurately represent the colors which were even more vibrant than this.

Adirondack Sunrise

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Canoe Paddling Techniques

November 23, 2007

A canoe is a great platform for wildlife viewing. Many species come down to the water’s edge. Some, like otters, beaver, muskrat, and mink are aquatic by nature. With a little practice, it is also easier to paddle quietly than to hike quietly, providing an even better experience. So, it’s good to know how to control the canoe well and quietly to have a good opportunity to see all the wildlife available.

Getting to a descent level of paddling ability is not hard. I am no expert. My wife and I learned a few techniques for flat water and mild white water that have proven incredibly valuable in all paddling conditions. We learned the basics from a Maine guide during a trip down the Allagash Wilderness Waterway years ago. I hope these basic techniques will help you to enjoy this wonderful activity.

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India Travel Log and Photos

October 31, 2007

From 2/4/2005 – 26/2005, my wife and I went to India on a World Wildlife Fund trip. This was our first trip with a digital camera. We had replaced our two film camera bodies with a single Canon EOS 20D. We also replaced our wide angle lens, due to the 1.6x conversion factor of the camera body. We began using our current wide angle lens, a 17-85mm EF-S Image Stabilized lens.

Obviously, we hoped to see tigers on this trip but were trying our hardest not to get our hopes too high. It is very possible to go all the way to India on a trip specifically designed to maximize tiger viewing and still not be lucky enough to see one. So, we tried our hardest to prepare ourselves for the possibility of poor luck. Of course, we also hoped to see a lot of other amazing wildlife that exists throughout India.

Our total counts for the trip were 180 bird species and 21 mammal species. Even those impressive stats do not do justice to this truly wonderful and very different trip for us. Surprisingly, even many of the human aspects of the trip were incredibly interesting. The culture of India is truly unique. We saw evidence of the early Jain and Hindu culture, as well as the later influence as the Muslims and Christians came through. Many aspects of this even caught the attention of this misanthrope.

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Tanzania Travel Write Up

October 9, 2007

For the three weeks from 8/26/2004 through 9/19/2004, we went to Tanzania. This is a large country and takes a while to see any appreciable portion of the great locations there. This was also our last major trip using film. We exposed 157 rolls of 36 exposure during our time on the ground there.

This was our longest trip to Africa to date and had some very interesting sightings. I may add one or two more photos later, possibly a rock hyrax and the twin vervet monkey babies. If you have specific interest in either of these, feel free to request them. I missed them on my first scanner pass. If you have enjoyed my photos thus far, please check these out and let me know what you think. Thanks.

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New Zealand Millennium Travel Log and Photos

October 7, 2007

From 12/1999-1/2000, my wife and I went to New Zealand with another couple, our closest friends. We were all together for parts of the trip, especially the millennium new year’s eve, and split up for parts of the trip since we have slightly different interests. They are less interested in wildlife than we are.

My wife and I are strongly of the belief that it is better to see a few places well than to race from place to place to place and see none of them well. To that end, we not only did NOT combine this trip with Australia, we did not even make it to the North Island of New Zealand other than to fly through it.

This trip will serve as a good example of how my photographic skill and equipment have improved with time. I probably considered these photos very good at the time. I no longer do. Looking at them, I just downgraded the rating I gave them on my voting page for the next travel write up. I hope these do not disappoint too badly. Of course, these are the best. I hope you’ll find them interesting.

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Peru Travel Log and Photos

September 24, 2007

Peru is a place of incredible biodiversity and very much worth the trip. Though most people go to Machu Picchu, and there is some good wildlife there, I would strongly recommend the lowlands, especially of the Amazon basin. When planning a trip to Peru, consider that there are 1,800 bird species there, as compared with 500 for all of North America. Also keep in mind that the country is incredibly rich in mammals and reptiles.

Our tally at the end of the trip was 230 bird species and 27 mammal species.

Our trip began at Tahuayo, a 2.5 hour boat trip from Iquitos. This lodge was a truly remote experience. All day trips began with a boat ride from the lodge. Trails were typically fairly primitive and muddy. Our guides were excellent at finding the wildlife. I would note though that at 5’7″, I am not used to thinking of myself as tall. That changed in the rain forest. With guides cutting trails with machetes being significantly shorter, there was always a branch to duck under … or walk into forehead first. Don’t grab for handholds on the trails either. Many of the plants have nasty thorns that leave little bits in your hands. And, do take the lodge up on their rubber boots. Standard hiking boots, even gore-tex ones, are just a tad low for that level of mud.

The wildlife was phenomenal and well worth it. This was where we saw the Amazon Pink River Dolphins, locally called botos. They are beautiful and not as hard to see as one might imagine. But, they do not stay up long. If you want photos of them, you will end up with a lot of photos of empty water. This would be OK with digital photography. We were using film. This was the best one we got.

Pink River Dolphin or Boto

While there we also saw many kingfishers of various species, three toed sloths, hoatzin, and this Pygmy Marmoset who posed for us for quite some time, long enough to set up the tripod and put extenders (1.5x & 2x) to get an effective 1200mm lens (mirror lockup required).

Pygmy Marmoset

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Antartica Travel Log and Photos

September 22, 2007

This was our second millennium trip from late December 2000 through January 2001. Since there was debate about the actual millennium year (my opinion, watching all the digits turn is what matters), this was considered to be a millennium trip.

Anyway, into the more important points. We took a trip through Cheeseman’s Ecology Safaris, a small Mom and Pop, literally, travel specialist in California. Actually, Doug and Gail’s son Ted was also on the trip. The Cheesemans are wonderful people. Our only complaint, if it can be called a complaint, was that they were a bit too nice and too trusting. There were times when we would have liked to see them reign in some of the guests a bit more sternly.

The truly excellent things about the Cheeseman’s trip were that it was 100% wildlife focused, that it was significantly longer than other comparable trips, and that it was less expensive than most, especially when the per day rate is considered. Remember, if you are planning a trip to Antarctica, much of the best wildlife on the trip is in the Falklands and South Georgia. If your finances and schedule can possibly allow, definitely get to these places.

Also, when planning a trip there, it is very important to look at your schedule of days at sea. We compared at the time we went and found that the Falklands, S. Georgia, S. Orkney, and the Antarctic Peninsula take about 11 days at sea. So, if your trip is 19 days, you only have 8 days of landings. Our trip was 25 days, giving us 14 days of landings. Each day that you add to a trip like this is a land day rather than a sea day. At sea, you will see birds flying around the ship and whales, though mostly distant. An ice-strengthened ship weighs a lot and cannot turn on a dime to watch whales.

This photo was taken near the end of the trip at the southernmost point we reached, about 66 degrees 11 minutes south latitude. We did not cross the Antarctic Circle. Though the scan is not as good as the print from film, I should say that of all the photos on our walls, this is the one we blew up to the largest size, 16×24.

Antarctic Peninsula

Click on the more link to see the rest of the images from the trip, or at least the small subset I scanned and uploaded.

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Polar Bears at Churchill

September 11, 2007

These photos were taken in Churchill Canada. I will update this at a later date, possibly much later, with some real information. This is in response to a Dvorak blog post. I just wanted to show the difference between the type of view from the dog farm there and the tundra buggy. The head shot was taken from a van window on the dog farm. The other two were from the buggy.

Polar Bear Head Shot

Polar Bear Walking

Polar Bears Sparring

Note: this write-up is incomplete. Reply below to request completion of the write-up and additional photos of snowy owl and arctic hare

Rwanda for Mountain Gorillas

September 11, 2007

I’m going to make my first post about wildlife travel locations the place to which my wife took me on my surprise 40th birthday trip. Though I obviously had to know that we were going somewhere, my wife managed to keep me from knowing the destination until the plane took off. Flying through London helped as Virgin to London does not necessarily give much away. Further, she managed to get the woman at the check in counter to check us in without mentioning the destination.

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Inflatable Canoe

September 9, 2007

I highly recommend the Aire Traveler canoe and have entered my reasons, including some of the negatives below. No canoe is perfect for all uses. My primary purpose is as a wildlife viewing platform. This requires comfort, stability, and quiet paddling. For these features and for it’s ability to get into very shallow water, I would recommend this boat over any hard shell canoe. In fact, I would never buy a hard shell again.

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