The Leasty Beasty

The Leasty Beasty

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Behind the Scenes of this Photo


Taken on Gareloi Island in the Aleutian Islands, Alaska, on June 17th, 2009.

Just by looking at a Least Auklet you might imagine that this bird, a few inches high and somewhere around 1.5 ounces, is a frail thing. And yet they are capable of hundreds of miles of flight and consume 80% of their body weight a day. They may be Leasts, but they’re also beasts.

See more beautiful Alaska photos here.

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The Return

The Return

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Behind the Scenes of this Photo


Taken on Gareloi Island in the Aleutian Islands, Alaska, on June 22nd, 2009

At the end of the day hundreds of thousands of Crested and Least Auklets return from the ocean to their colony.

See more beautiful Alaska photos here.

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Hangin’ Out

Hangin’ Out

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Behind the Scenes of this Photo


Taken on Gareloi Island in the Aleutian Islands, Alaska, on June 26th, 2009

Crested and Least Auklets hang out and chatter on a social pad at the end of the day.

See more beautiful Alaska photos here.

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Pride of Lions

Steller sea lions, Resurrection Bay, Seward, Alaska

Taken in Resurrection Bay, Alaska on August 16th, 2009

Alaska is an surreal place. Where else can you see glaciers, mountains, whales, seabirds, and sea lions, all on the same cruise? These Steller sea lions were hauled out on some rocks in Resurrection Bay, basking in the sun as powerful waves crashed around them. Look closely and you can see a scientific ID number shaved into the female lion on the right.

 

Lines of Force

Sooty terns in flight, French Frigate Shoals, Hawaii

Taken on Tern Island, Northwest Hawaiian Islands on March 13th, 2009

In 2009 I had the pleasure of volunteering for one month in the Papahanaumokuakea National Marine Sanctuary in Hawaii. I was stationed during that time on the aptly named Tern Island, where every year approximately 160,000 Sooty Terns (plus 20 other seabird species) come to lay their eggs. I loved the Sooties because of their sheer numbers, striking patterns, cheerful calls, and curious dispositions. Many times while out and about on the tiny island, I’d turn around to find a Sooty hovering a foot or less behind me head, chirruping away.

 

The Thing!

South Africa Desert Tortoise, Great Karoo National Park, South Africa

Taken in Karoo National Park, South Africa, on September 13th, 2008

Camping towards the very end of a trip to South Africa, I woke up one morning to find the campground being besieged by desert tortoises, who were there to feast on the campground’s grassy areas. This particular tortoise had more things on his mind than just grass though and in this shot I caught him astride a female tortoise doing his best to ensure that there would be a new generation of desert tortoises to roam the scrub.

 

Camouflaged Colt

Baby zebra in the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Reserve, South Africa

Taken in the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Reserve, South Africa, on September 12th, 2008

After a prolonged graze this young zebra lay down to have a snooze under the watchful eye of its parents. However, rather than disguising the colt as nature intended, its black-on-white stripes served to help it stand out against the golden hue of the dead grass.

 

Imfolozi Elephant

Bull elephant eating, Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Reserve, South Africa

Taken in the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Reserve, South Africa, on September 11th, 2008

On the third day of a four-day bush walk in Imfolozi Game Reserve, our evening was made interesting by two elephants who decided to browse their way through the trees near our camp. Watching them demolish leaves, branches, and even whole trees, we got as close as we dared, but fortunately did nothing to provoke their wrath.

 

Cautious Camouflage

Chameleon in Kruger National Park, South Africa

Taken in Kruger National Park, South Africa on September 7th, 2008

While on a lunch break durimg a self-drive safari in Kruger National Park, we spotted this chamelon slowly making his way across the picnic area to a tree. As we watched him move from the ground to the tree, his color changed from a greenish hue to this mottled grey-brown. Equally interesting were his eyes, one looking straight ahead, the other keeping a constant watch on us.

 

End of a Dusty Trail

Taken in near the northern border of Kruger National Park, South Africa September 2nd, 2008

There are few better places to spend your birthday then Kruger National Park, which is absolutely teeming with African wildlife. And there are few better ways to spend your birthday than scanning a river in search of hippos, only to see a herd of elephants come thundering out of the bush towards the water, sending dust flying and scattering crocodiles, the elephants’ jubilation only too obvious as they race to the river’s edge.

 

Cutest Cubs

Cheetah Cubs at the DeWildt Cheetah Research Center, South Africa

Taken at the DeWildt Cheetah Research Center, South Africa August 31st, 2008

Wild cheetahs have a perilously shallow gene pool. So much so that conservationists worry that a single disease could wipe out all the remaining wild cheetahs. Fortunately, there a few places that run active cheetah breeding programs in order to diversify the cats’ DNA. I was lucky enough to visit the DeWildt Cheetah Center at a time when they had a few young cubs on hand. Imagine my delight in being able to see these adorable youngsters from only a few inches away as they jumped and pounced and played as only kittens can.

 

Aloe Polyphylla

Spiral Aloe, aloe polyphylla, Lesotho, South Africa

Taken in the village of Malealea, Lesotho, on August 25th, 2008

Aloe plants are found all over the world but none of them can quite match the geometric precision achieved by the spiral aloe, which is native to the highlands and Drakensberg Mountains of Lesotho and South Africa. I found this excellent specimen in the peaceful and friendly village of Malealea, Lesotho.