The Fall in Denali National Park

Denali National Park in late September

Canon 60D, Sigma 10-20 mm

1/25 sec @ f/16, ISO 100

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A sneaky moose.

Canon 60D, Sigma 50-500 mm

1/25 sec @ f/16, ISO100

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Over the Misty Mountains

Canon 60D, Sigma 50-500 mm

1/200 sec @ f/11, ISO 200

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Canon 60D, Sigma 50-500 mm

1/200 sec @ f/8.0, ISO 200

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Caribou with a View

Turns out the driving factor for migrating caribou isn’t food, predators or even mating.  It’s the bugs.  They can’t stand them.  The mosquitoes are so thick and so persistent during the summer months the caribou will travel dozens of miles a day to avoid them.  So what do they do? Where is the one place the mosquitoes avoid? The ocean.  These males in the photos are enjoying a bit of rest by the Arctic Ocean free of pesky pests.

Look! A Tundra Bison!

Canon 60D, Sigma 50-500mm

1/250 sec @ f/8.0, ISO 200

The Tundra Bison, known more commonly (and only, actually) as the Muskox.  The Muskox is one of the only ungulates in the arctic (the other is the Caribou).  They are native to the Alaskan Arctic but in recent history have been all but eliminated from the area.  Luckily thanks to successful reintroduction efforts populations have rebounded to a healthy level.  This one in particular was by himself, which is odd because usually they are in large herds of around 30 individuals.

Canon 60D, Sigma 50-500 mm

1/200 sec @ f/8.0, ISO 200

Duck, Duck… another Duck.

Canon 60D, Sigma 50-500 mm

1/250 sec @ f/8.0, ISO 200

These are some shots of Long-Tailed Ducks.  Some might not recognize them by this name.  It’s relatively new, they used to be called the Old Squaw Duck.  Apparently, a horribly offensive term for a Native American woman stirred up a bit of controversy.  So oddly enough they changed it to a name that actually describes the physical look of the animal.  Go figure.  Anyway I saw this male on the same pond a few weeks in a row and eventually had time to grab my camera.  These come from a few different days of shooting, one was foggy, the other sunny.  I like the feeling both give.

Canon 60D, Sigma 50-500 mm

1/125 sec @ f/13, ISO 100

Canon 60D, Sigma 50-500 mm

1/250 sec @ f/8.0, ISO 200

Canon 60D, Sigma 50-500 mm

1/200 sec @ f/11, ISO 100

When the Moon Hits Your Caribou Eye

 Canon 60D, Sigma 50-500mm

1/100 sec @ f/8.0, ISO 400

On this day I had hit photography overload.  It was the first day in weeks where we had half way decent light and I could not stop taking pictures.  At this point I was almost sick of taking photos, but the stupid light and animals kept giving me such good opportunities I couldn’t stop.  This was a difficult one to capture accurately.  The moon was HUGE that day and right underneath it was this big buck staring into the setting sun.  My brain almost exploded it was so perfect.  It wasn’t easy getting the two composed in just the right way but this was the best I could do.  Any suggestions on how I could have improved this would be greatly appreciated.

Pacific Looney Toons (without the “-ey toons” part)

 Canon 60D, Sigma 50-500mm

1/200 sec @ f/8.0, ISO 200

They are after all called “Looney Toons” for a reason.  I don’t know what that reason is, but I’m sure there was a reason.  Anyway, here is a Pacific Loon I found.

This Pacific Loon had a few chicks swimming with it but when I came by to take photos they dove and must have hid along the shore because they were no where to be found.  I snapped a few quick shots and got out of there so the chicks could come back.

Peregrine Falcon

Can anyone out there in internet land guess what the fastest living thing on the planet is?  I’ll give you 2 hints:

1) It’s not a cheetah or a sailfish.

2) It’s the subject of this post.

Since you’ve given up by now I’ll just tell you.  The all around coolest bird in school, the Peregrine Falcon.  They have been clocked at over 200 mph with some people suggesting they could even get up to 240 mph.  They reach these speeds while hunting.  They circle high until they find potential prey.  Peregrines prefer smaller birds in flight.  Once they’ve locked on they begin their attack.  They position themselves between their prey and the sun to remain invisible and then dive.  They go into a free fall and begin gaining speed.  Everything about them is perfectly aerodynamic.  Their nostrils have a cone in the center which allows them to breath at the height of their speed.  When they get close to striking they flatten out pulling upwards of 6 Gs!  Most fighter pilots can’t even handle that.  At this point their prey had no idea what hit them.  Their is a small explosion of songbird feathers and it’s over.  Awesome animals.

Luckily for me there is a Peregrine Falcon nest right next to our research camp.  I would like nothing more than to just sit under the nest and watch it develop all summer but the adults hate intruders in their territory and get very agitated.  I’ve tried to give them enough space but occasionally they freak out no matter how much room you give them.  Luckily I had my camera with me a few times…

Canon 60D, Sigma 50-500mm f/4-6.3

1/800 sec @ f/8.0, ISO 200, tripod

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Canon 60D, Sigma 50-500mm f/4-6.3

1/800 sec @ f/8.0, ISO 200, tripod.

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Canon 60D, Sigma 50-500mm f/4-6.3

1/800 sec @ f/8.0, ISO 200, tripod.

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Canon 60D, Sigma 50-500mm f/4-6.3

1/800 sec @ f/8.0, ISO 200, tripod.

Greater White-Fronted Goose

This is what most of my summer has been devoted to.  The Greater White-Fronted Goose.  That and a number of other research subjects, but this is the only one I got a good picture of so lets just concentrate on that.  We were conducting preliminary research on nesting success in order to try to get funding for future projects in the area.  This was taken in early June when the snow was still melting in most areas up here along the arctic coast.  This meant that the geese had very few areas free of snow to land and even fewer areas with open water.  To get these first two shots I just stood by a pond and waited for the geese to drop by.  They didn’t seem to be disturbed by my presence at all.  When I first walked by they all flew away but after I stood there for a minute they all came back and acted completely normal.

Canon 60D, Sigma 50-500mm f/4-6.3

1/500 sec @ f/8.0, ISO 100

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Canon 60D, Sigma 50-500mm f/4-6.3

1/320 sec @ f/8.0, ISO 100

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This last image is of a female White Fronted-Goose incubating eggs on her nest.  Part of our research has been to find and monitor their nests.  This is a good example of how we would find a nest.  The female would drop her head long before we could ever see her and she would remain completely still until we were about 10 yards away before flying away.  If you can’t see her she is around the middle of the photo.  She looks like she might just be a clump of dirt (which there are plenty of around here and they look exactly like this).  Spotting these birds wasn’t always easy but you eventually get the hang of it.

Canon 60D, Sigma 50-500mm f/4-6.3

1/320 sec @ f/8.0, ISO 100

Red Necked Phalarope

 This little dude is a Red-necked Phalarope.  Interesting thing about Phalaropes, the male actually has duller plumage than the female.  There are not too many birds where this is the case.  This is due to the fact that the male incubates the eggs, not the female.

Canon 60D, Sigma 50-500mm f/4-6.3

1/500 sec @ f/8.0, ISO 200

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Canon 60D, Sigma 50-500mm f/4-6.3

1/500 sec @ f/8.0, ISO 200

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Canon 60D, Sigma 50-500mm f/4-6.3

1/800 sec @ f/8.0, ISO 200

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Canon 60D, Sigma 50-500mm f/4-6.3

1/500 sec @ f/8.0, ISO 200

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Canon 60D, Sigma 50-500mm f/4-6.3

1/400 sec @ f/8.0, ISO 200

Caribou on the Runway

Canon 60D, Sigma 50-500mm f/4-6.3

1/1250 sec @ f/8.0, ISO 200

This is one of the many caribou that have been walking through camp. This one is walking down a gravel runway at an abandoned air force site.  This was taken early in the summer, so the antlers aren’t very impressive yet.  They grow a new set every year and every year the old ones fall off.  This is actually how you can tell the difference between antlers and horns.  Antlers fall off and grow back, horns don’t.  Anyway, as the antlers at the time of posting this have grown considerably.  I just need a chance to get some shots of them now.

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