Category Archives: USA

Flying Away

 

These birds are doing just what I’ll be doing tonight -flying! Only I’m headed to Victoria Falls, then into Botswana and Namibia’s Caprivi Strip. But this image made me think of the ‘other’ type of flying, the wonderful annual migration process that begins in Alaska now, as birds slowly make their way south for the winter. I’ll be waiting for them again this year to visit California NW refuges, all up and down the central valley, celebrating the return of the cranes and the snow geese and ducks by the thousands!

I may not be able to post much on my blog while I’m away, but I will try to post via Instagram as that will be faster/easier. Follow me there !

 

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Am I doing it right, ma?

We watched this mother bear and her two cubs feasting on the grasses and sedges in the meadow for quite a while. There were so many poses and gestures and moments that we could have filled our cards just with these bears alone that day! I love this one because of the way the cub is looking up at the mother – and again, maybe anthropomorphizing, but it’s almost as if to say ‘is this how we do this, ma?’ I could actually here them tearing the grasses and yes, smacking, too – which is awesome to be close enough to experience that, safely.

In less than 2 weeks I’ll be up there again, meeting my workshop group, only this time it’s during the salmon run, and we hope to capture fishing bears, along with all the other activities. I’m looking forward to getting back there. It’s a barrel of fun and lots of laughs as you watch the cubs play, and every day provides such great photo opportunities!

Thanks for visiting,

 

 

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Return to Alaska’s Inside Passage

Was I dreaming? Something was tugging on my foot in my bunk aboard the Lindblad-National Geographic Expeditions’ Sea Lion. Slowly as my brain tried to sort out dream from reality, I heard someone say “we have humpback whales bubble-net feeding.” OMG!!!

My brain fully woke up with those words – never mind that it was only around 4:30 AM. I was out of the bunk, and dressed in under 5 minutes, and on deck in under 7 minutes, with camera in hand. And I wasn’t the first, lol! The second mate had gone around and woken up guests in their cabins, and even the crew, so we could all witness this spectacular event. I knew from experience that it was unpredictable and could last for just a short time, or for hours, depending on the food source and the ‘whim’ of the whales. It had already been going on for about 45 minutes, and we watched and photographed it for another 2 hours, with not one, but two groups cooperatively feeding within close proximity of our ship!

I was there as a photo instructor, and I was over-the-top excited for everyone capturing this event in photographs. Larry Hobbs, fellow staff member and cetacean specialist, lowered the hydrophone in the water, and we were able to hear the calls of the ‘singer’ that orchestrated the cooperative effort. When the singing stopped, we knew they would surface, but where was the question! We weren’t seeing the usual bubbles at the surface to clue us in, so it was pretty funny to be surprised and try to be aimed in the right place when it happened. Over the course of time we watched, most of us got it right about 50% of the time, amidst many oohs, aahhs, and  ‘darn I missed that one’ comments.

Cooperative bubble-net feeding is uncommon – although I have seen it fairly often in the past four years in the Inside Passage. Turns out, not all humpbacks do this, only about 700 according to research, so it’s a very special event to witness!

In addition to the whales, there area brown and black bears, mountain goats, harbor seals, eagles, moose, and astounding scenery. It’s a place of wonder and wonder-filled wilderness. If you haven’t been get there soon – while the glaciers are still touching the sea…

Thanks for visiting!

 

 

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The Power of Your Voice

Nature needs your voice!

You may not know that considerations are underway by our current Department of the Interior whether to declassify lands that are presently national monuments, such as the newly designated Bears Ears in southeast Utah, the new Berryessa Snow Mountain (California), Giant Sequoia (not the national park section!) The Carrizo Plain, Sonoran Desert, Grand-Staircase National Monument, and the list goes on – 22 in all.  Seriously. 

Aside from your political beliefs, consider the implications of losing these wilderness spaces, and the value that they have as places one can go and ‘lose oneself’ and merge with the whole of nature. As a landscape/nature photographer, these and other public lands are often the source of my photographs, but those photographs are the outward expression of the inward inspiration that I receive while being in these wild, special places, places that take my breath away – and not from hiking, but from the sheer joy of seeing fantastic geology, flower-filled meadows, rushing streams, and wildlife. 

Preserving wild, natural places, is, in my mind, essential for mental health. of us all. Even if we never visit these places, the human mind needs to know that there are places that we can ‘escape to’, a safe zone in nature, away from it all. It’s a primeval base need within us all, whether we are conscious of it or not. If you use local or regional parks for your time with nature, a walk, a hike, a paddle on a lake, then you have felt some of that refreshment, that rejuvenation, that comes from being in nature. These national monuments are land much like a ‘local’ park, just on a grand scale.

National Monuments serve to preserve the integrity of  wild areas that might otherwise be abused by extractive industries, and in some cases provide a buffer zone to those processes just outside of their borders. Many also preserve space needed for wildlife to survive, let alone thrive. And ironically, with the crowds that populate our national parks these days, these monuments are oasis where one can still find solitude, without the crowds, and they are wonder-filled, too, although perhaps not on the grand scale of the national parks nearby. But to the animals, and those of us that go there, they are essential.

I know that not everyone sees ‘eye to eye’ on issues like this, but if you feel strongly about the need for these lands, please consider taking a moment and make your voice ‘heard’ in the public comment period for these monuments on the list.  You can read the information and comment here:

https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=DOI-2017-0002-0001

The public comment period for the other monuments ends June 10th, EXCEPT for Bears Ears – that ends May 26th, so please, if you plan to comment, do so soon.

Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit, and as vital to our lives as water and good bread. A civilization which destroys what little remains of the wild, the spare, the original, is cutting itself off from its origins and betraying the principle of civilization itself.
― Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire


 
 

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