Boy what a year it has been. Sitting here and looking back over this past year I've had so many amazing wildlife encounters, so many new changes(camera equipment) and so much to be thankful for. I've been able to achieve many of the goals I set for myself and have added so many new species to my life list. I finally built my personal website which I love (thank you squarespace) and I created a Facebook page. Both of which have grown quick fast.
I've began this post a few times now wondering which direction to take it. I decided to do a Top 10 Images/Wildlife experience from the year and give a little info on each one. Well enough talking lets jump into it:
Number 10 - Great Cormorant Playtime
Last winter was a nasty one and almost ever body of water was frozen solid. Even Conception Bay behind my house was frozen over and that has never happened in the 5 years I have lived here. The freeze brought some amazing photo ops as species of birds that I have been unable to get great shots of had been forced into the small sections of open water at Quidi Vidi. On a very cold and windy morning this Great Cormorant showed up at the lake and decided to have some fun with this think branch. It was the first time I had been able to get close shots of a cormorant in water and was happy to capture this behavior.
Number 9 - Tree Swallow
Certainly not the most difficult shot I've ever taken but why this made the list was the fact that a lot of planning went into this shot. Brendan Kelly and I have a number of nestboxes setup at Nevilles pond a small pond in Paradise, NL. Each year a large flock of Tree Swallows show up to use the boxes. It provides an amazing opportunity to observe and photography this beautiful species. With in the first few weeks of their arrival they begin to claim their territory and so I setup this perch next to one of the boxes for them to use.
Number 8 - Long-Tailed Duck
In November after a great morning of photography I decided to make a quick stop by a small pond/outflow area near my house. I don't allows get the time to check the pond but over the years there have been some great species spotted there.
Upon arriving at the pond I quickly noticed something black/white dive under the water almost like a loon. I thought for sure that's what it was until it surfaced and noticed it was more like a duck..it dove again. I quickly jumped out of my rig and got eye level to the water before it surfaced again and to my surprise it was a female Long-tailed duck. This was an amazing opportunity as they are rarely ever seen on inland waters. I spent the next 4 hours with this amazing duck and was provided some great photo ops.
Number 7 - Mink Family
While on vacation with family over the summer we made a stop over at my uncles place in Wesleyville (my mothers hometown). We arrived just before dark. I brought Jenelle and Lily down to an old wharf behind my uncles house to show them were I would hang out when we made visits as a child. Within moments Jenelle spotted a Mink swimming in the water. It was my first time seeing one. The fading light gave me no chance for a photo but we did realize it wasn't just one Mink but a family living under a pile of wood next to the wharf. The following more I woke at sunrise and spent the next few hours with this cute family. It was an amazing experience.
Number 6 - Red Fox
Heading out of Terrenceville from one of our monthly visits with Jenelle's parents I spotted something moving along the road side near a truck that had pulled over. I quickly realized it was a Red Fox. I pulled over on the shoulder of the road and kept my distance so not to scare off the fox...boy was I in for a surprise..upon getting out of the CR-V and getting in my usual low position the Fox made a V-line straight for me..so close I had to stand up and make it known I didnt want him to come closer. It was obvious this guy had no fear of humans and what made him so unique was the lack of tail. For the next half hour Jenelle and I spent time with this beautiful creature.
Number 5 - Clown of the sea
Since moving back to Newfoundland in 2010 I have made an annual trip to Elliston to photograph the Atlantic Puffins. I've been very luck during each of my visit that the Puffins have landed on the mainland providing great looks. This past July was one of the best visits yet. It was a rainy/windy day not fit for any normal person to be out...bonus for me as it gave me the chance to have the viewing area all to myself for most of the morning. Within mins of my arrival puffins were all around me and with heavy rain falling it helped to create some great images.
Number 4 - Caribou cool down
I consider myself very lucky to know the location of a small herd of Caribou that hang out around Terrenceville each summer. It was a nice warm evening in July when I took my family for a short driving to kill the evening. With camera in tow we headed out to the Branch when I spotted two caribou along a small pond about 1km out on the barrens. With brand new sneakers on I grabbed my camera and quickly made my way over the barrens...through water and mud I reached the waters edge just as the caribou decided to cool off
Number 3 - Million Dollar View
During my family vacation this past summer we spent a few days in Twillingate enjoy some spectacular views of Icebergs. This past year was simply amazing for Icebergs and you could find numbers of them around almost every corner. A min walk down from our campsite were two massive Icebergs and we were woke a few times during the night when pieces of the Iceberg broke off..it would sound like gun shots. It was amazing to sit and enjoy them.
Early one morning I headed up the side of a hill where the evening before I spotted a very vocal and cooperative American Pipit. With my Tokin 11-16mm lens at 16mm I set myself up on the cliffs edge and captured this image as the Pipit enjoyed the view. I had always wanted to capture a wide angle birdscape image so that's why this one made the top 3.
Number 2 - Close Encounter
I've only ever done one whale tour previous to the one this summer and that outing was simply amazing. The whale we encounter that time breached for us at least 10 times if not more and just put on an amazing show. One that I thought would never be beaten...well I think the one in July just might have.
I headed out with a group of local photographers to see the whales and we happened to find a mother and calf. Our captain for the day mentioned he had some tricks up his sleeve that might bring the whales closer....well he certainly did and for 2 hours we had a mother and calf circle our boat and at times splashing water all over us as if wanting to play.
The captain asked if one of us could whistle so I did and man was I surprised when I did as the mother came in for a very close look..this was shot at 70mm no crop. It may not be the most amazing picture but to have this massive creature so close, interacting with us and showing how truly intelligent they are makes this one number 2
Number 1 - In Love
About 2 weeks before one of my annual trips to Cape St.Mary's my new 500mm VR lens showed up (I was previously told it was out of stock as if meant for me one magically showed up in Henry's database and was in my hands). I couldn't wait to test this bad boy out and have the extra reach at 700mm with my tele convertor on which would come in handy with the birds here on the island.
I've photographed the Gannets at Cape St.Mary's a number of times and was always looking for one specific image. The image I was looking for was one showing the intimate courtship display that the Gannets perform by clicking their bills together.
After spotting two Gannets along the cliffs edge that were showing signs of performing this ritual I belly crawled up to the edge, switched to a vertical shooting position and captured this image
There are about a handful of images I have in my head that I want to capture before I'm too old to lift a camera. The above image is one..I truly love everything about this image and its why it comes in as number 1
I want to wish all of you a Merry Christmas and Happy New year. I wish you all a safe and joyful holidays. Thank you to all that support me and my work. Thank you for all the wonderful comments and encouraging words I've received through out the year. I look forward to sharing more of my wildlife adventures with you in the New Year..who knows what it will bring :)