April 1, 2017
Midway Atoll is, I've been told, the only place in the world that a self-sustaining population of yellow canaries—some 500—can be found. But they are of course not native to this far-flung spot. They were brought to Midway in 1910 by an employee of the cable company that laid the first round-the-world telegraph cables. Nevertheless, their century-long inhabitation is impressive, and many other non-native occupants wreak far worse ecological havoc. The canaries flitter about the island, generally unconcerned about the much larger birds that share the space. This bristle-thighed curlew, which breeds in Alaska and winters on tropical Pacific islands, seemed much more aware of them than they were of it! The juxtaposition of two species I saw almost every day but which are rarely associated with Midway Atoll made for a comical shot.
May 26, 2016
Dragonflies are hard to sneak up on. Sometimes, if you're lucky, they have a favorite perch, which you can wait next to, camera at the ready, until they come back. But with a nearly 360º field of view, they see you coming and almost always dart away. That is, unless they're exhausted. I imagine it's tiring to fly when you're having a rough day and missing almost an entire wing. I think that's why this dragonfly at Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens allowed me to get so close.
May 18, 2016
White terns nest anywhere and everywhere on Midway. There was one pair who laid an egg in a shrub at the front corner of the Chokedee House, where I lived, and I got to watch their chick grow from the tiniest ball of fluff into a fledgling and eventually into a juvenile. One day, I noticed one parent sitting in the shrub with the fledgling nowhere to be found. I presumed it was out practicing to fly. But white terns don't feed their chicks by digesting and then regurgitating their food—they catch appropriately-sized fish in their bill, and bring them back whole. So this parent had to wait with these fish in its bill until its chick came back. Apparently it had been waiting a while, because as I stood there, taking advantage of the opportunity to get this close-up, an ant crawled up the tern's body, onto its bill, and into the mouth of the fish!
March 20, 2016
During the culminating Colorado Plateau field trip that my Regional Field Geology class took in the summer of 2014, we passed through the town of Hurricane, Utah. We had driven past some small and distant brush fires during the day, and then camped in a state park on a reservoir outside the town. But as darkness descended, we realized that the fires were bigger and closer than they had seemed, and appeared to be looming just behind a ridge over Hurricane. After dinner, I stood on the back bumper of one of our vans and balanced my camera on the roof to take this 30-second exposure. Neither us nor the town were in danger though, so we just watched in awe...and started singing "I set fire to Hurricane" to the tune of Adele's "Set Fire To The Rain."
January 17, 2016
I regret that it's been almost two years since I posted a photo and story. Life has been busy, so I thought I would post a photo from the place I use to go every summer for a break from the busy—Block Island. Every time someone sees my maroon sweatshirt and either recognizes Block Island or asks me where it is, I recall all the great experiences and memories I've had there, and miss it a little bit more. I took this photo on the one occasion that I walked all the way to the north point of the island, which seems to keep going and going. You must walk past the end of the road, past the lighthouse, and then keep walking. There, at the tip of it all, eastbound waves crash together with westbound waves, splashing up almost like a rooster tail behind a motorboat. It feels strange, like the water before you is unsettled, unsure of what it should be doing.