wildlife

The Good Old “Fight-up”

If there was a single bird that I could've identified in the past as being my nemesis bird - a subject that I had tried with and had little to no success - it'd be the male Silver-beaked Tanager. Quite a common species around Trinidad, these moody tanagers have taunted me for many years. Ever since the first time I laid eyes on my first specimen at Asa Wright Nature Centre, I was hooked. I was shooting with my first camera, a Canon Powershot SX20, but the image was burned in my memory - a red plumage deeper than the ocean, and a bill that shone brighter than the full moon on a clear night.               After...

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Studying Birds: Ruby Topaz

It's been many years since I was first blown away by the brilliance of a male Ruby Topaz, that flash of bright red and gold while feeding an early morning in one of Trinidad's southern wetlands back in 2011. Coming from such a dull, dark brown bird it was (and still is) nothing short of plain amazing. But for most of that time, I haven't had much good luck with this bird, only securing one or two decent shots over the years. After photographing it at its most resplendent (see here) I realized that the most interesting aspect of this transformation is not the end product, but the journey itself...

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2017′s 1-17

As we sit on the cusp of another new year, another notch in the bark, another eye over the shoulder that makes all of us ponder our existence for a brief moment - it's that customary time of sharing "best of", or as social media would have it called "most popular". Because popularity is a thing that we use to measure ourselves, for reasons that are understood but yet make little sense. It's that time of year when we all try to make our existence seem as grand as humanly (or inhumanly) possible. Only for prying eyes, of course. Because that's what matters. As photographers, we're lucky that a camera...

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Bioblitz 2017

Bioblitz this year for us was indeed a blitz. We got there (Icacos - south-western tip of Trinidad) somewhere between three and four in the morning. Missing the previous afternoon's session due to another engagement, we were determined to make some sort of meaningful contribution nevertheless. Even though it was still within what would be termed the dead of night, we recorded our first species. Common Pauraques sat intermittently on the roadway, under streetlights to maximise their productivity. No other nocturnal birds, though. The crack of dawn found us along one of the trails, identifying...

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Birding Hacienda Jacana: September/October

The most recent count that took place at Hacienda Jacana just slid in under the door as October drew to a close. With all the flooding that went on in October, we almost didn't make it. But with a little faith and a lot of desire to be immersed in the forest, we made the journey into the heart of the island for yet another installment of this series. The timing of our arrival couldn't have been  more perfect. Once we unpacked our stuff, I followed my inner voice that was directing me to a copse of tall trees just beyond the cottages. Somehow I knew exactly where to look; my eyes fell very swiftly...

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On Being Eye Level

It's one of the cardinal rules of wildlife photography - or any form of photography for that matter - the eye is the most important aspect of a strong image. The eye is the window to the subject's world, where the viewer can somehow by any small stretch of the imagination, put himself/herself in the shoes of the subject. The concept of being "eye level" gets introduced whenever this subject isn't a regular human, at regular human height. Birds, being (usually) much shorter than us, require an adjustment in perspective. For those birds that are not generally found in trees - such as waterbirds...

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Confusion

Life seemed to be so much simpler when I didn't know about Wood-Rails. Specifically, our resident species of Grey-cowled Wood-Rail. I wrote previously on the split that occurred within the Grey-necked Wood-Rail species - into Grey-cowled and Russet-naped Wood-Rail, both species differing in vocalization and plumage to a certain degree. Trouble is, there are multiple official bodies that are involved in the naming of birds - and they still haven't come to a definite agreement it seems. So although some purists (like myself) enjoy using the name "Grey-cowled Wood-Rail"; if you refer to this...

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Hunters

Sharing a couple images of two terrorizers of small creatures everywhere. Not saying that arachnophobia or herpetophobia isn't real though. These creatures are often misunderstood, and are usually met with a swift swipe of the broom. Lots of misinformation surrounding these two as well. The Pink-toed Tarantula is slightly smaller than a species I photographed some months back (see here), but its temperament is very similar. Cute and docile, they rarely (if ever) sink their half-inch long fangs into human flesh - they'd much rather beat a hasty retreat. This particular individual was one of two house...

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Hitting the Target Part I

A few weeks ago I got wind of a special bird that was spending some months here in the northern hills of Trinidad. We're accustomed to the general pattern of migratory birds - from the northern hemisphere that is. Each year, from August or September, these birds would be escaping the cold grip of the northern winter - only to depart the following March/April. From warblers to falcons - they're all well documented. But what is a visitor doing here in the middle of the year? The less documented migrants that appear from the south do swell our forests considerably during the months of the southern...

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Return of the Rains

It's (supposedly) that time, as we near the halfway point in the year, when the skies bless us with that life-giving gift that is water. For me, that means tons of images of one of my favourite things in the whole wide world. Birds in the rain. I love the rain as it adds that magical element to an otherwise static frame.             When everything is wet, colours seem to pop more. Blacks are blacker.                   But not too wet, though! This Yellow-headed...

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