Picture of the Week by Vicky Eicher

Click on the “Picture of the Week” button on the NBP website to view this image sent in by Vicky Eicher of Charlottesville, Virginia, USA.

www.naturesbestphotography.com

2013nbp_potw_vickyeicher

Title: Curiosity

Subject: Polar Bear

Location: East Coast of Baffin Island, Nunavut, Canada

Story: “I was photographing wildlife from the bow of the National Geographic Explorer when two polar bears approached the ship. The second bear chased off the first and cautiously came closer and closer to us, before apparently deciding that we were neither a threat nor edible. Then he turned around and left. This shot is not cropped.”

Camera: Nikon D300AF VR 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6D ED lens; 1/1000 sec at f/16; ISO 800.

**Notice**
The image appears on our website from Thursday, December 12, until Thursday, December 19, 2013. No use without permission of photographer © Vicky Eicher.

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Picture of the Week by Michael Poliza

Click on the “Picture of the Week” button on the NBP website to view this image sent in by Michael Poliza of Hamburg, Germany.
www.naturesbestphotography.com

2013NBP_POTW_MichaelPoliza

Title: Holy Cave

Subject: Timing Helps

Location: Kuril Islands, Kamchatka.

Story: “This is a very special image to me. It was taken not too long ago on the Kuril Islands on the far eastern side of Russia, just south of Kamchatka. Sounds far away… Trust me, it is! We were waiting all day long for the sun to break thru the low clouds to shoot a beautiful caldera, but to no avail. On the way back to the Mothership (MS Bremen) we stopped at this cave. Sometimes its just timing and a bit of luck…
PS. Just to clarify: The cave had two big open holes on the other end. This is where the setting sun was shining through… Timing helps.”

Camera: Canon EOS-1D XEF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens at 110mm; 1/250 sec at f/6.3; ISO 640.

Website: www.michaelpoliza.com

**Notice**
The image appears on our website from Thursday, November 14, until Thursday, November 21, 2013. No use without permission of photographer © Michael Poliza.

Picture of the Week 10/24 to 10/31/2013 by Sergi Garcia

Click on the “Picture of the Week” button on the NBP website to view this image sent in by Sergi Garcia of Argentona, Barcelona, Spain.
www.naturesbestphotography.com

2013NBP_POTW_SierraClark

Title: Turtle at Sunset

Subject: Green Sea Turtle

Location: Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain.

Story: “A group of turtles are installed on a small beach in Tenerife. The shot is less than 10 meters deep.”

Camera: Nikon D7000; Tokina AT-X 107 DX Fisheye (AF 10-17mm f/3.5-4.5) at 14mm; 1/200 sec at ƒ/11; ISO 100.

**Notice**
The image appears on our website from Thursday, October 24, until Thursday, October 31, 2013. No use without permission of photographer © Sergi Garcia.

Picture of the Week 2/5/2013 to 2/11/2013 by Chase Dekker

Click on the “Picture of the Week” button on the NBP website to view this image by Chase Dekker of Camano Island, Washington, USA.  http://www.naturesbestphotography.com/index.php

2013NBP_POTW_ChaseDekker

Title: The Duel of the Kings of the North

Subject: Two Polar Bears Fighting over a Seal

Location: Nordaustlandet, Svalbard, Norway

The Story: “We were out on a research expedition in Svalbard and while cruising around 81 degrees north, we came across some sea ice. From the ship, we observed two separate bears, but while continuing on, we came across an area where we could spot 12 polar bears all within half a mile! This was too good of an opportunity to pass up so we loaded down the zodiacs and floated out through the ice to get a closer look. We were able to spot 6 bears and at one point, one bear started to swim up to the large male on the ice indulging himself in some seal and one thing led to another when the bear in the water decided he wanted a bite as well. The two fought and roared for about 15 seconds before the bear on the ice conceded and they both shared the meal together. It was an amazing experience to watch unfold.”

**Notice**
The image will be available to view on our website from Tuesday, February 5, until Monday, February 11, 2013.

Terre Jones – National Parks

Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts President and CEO Terre Jones recently shared a few of his photos taken while scouting National Parks sites for Wolf Trap’s next Face of America production, an innovative multimedia and live performance event that celebrates the diverse people, histories, and unique landscapes of its fellow National Parks across the country. Jones, a lover of the arts and nature, has visited over 200 of the country’s 392 National Park sites.

A white ibis prepares to find its breakfast in the depths of Great Cypress National Preserve.

In the early 20th century, the hunt for feathers for ladies' hats nearly destroyed the wild bird population in South Florida, sparking protests that eventually led to a local preservation movement and the establishment of Everglades National Park and other National Park units.

A fox braves a winter snow storm on Mt. Rainier, one of the National Parks in Washington State which is being considered for Wolf Trap’s next Face of America series.

Photographers in the Field – Megan Lorenz – Saw-Whet Owls

Saw-Whet Owls

Words and photographs by Megan Lorenz (visit Megan Lorenz’s photo website)

No use without photographer’s permission under any circumstances.

The first time I saw a Northern Saw-Whet Owl was at a Raptor Centre for injured Birds Of Prey.  Hutton had been hit by a car in March 2008 and had permanent damage and loss of sight in her right eye. Luckily there are wonderful Raptor Rehab Centres which will look after birds like Hutton permanently if they are unable to be returned to the wild.  I was completely taken with the tiny Owls who are smaller than a pop-can with a wingspan of only 43 cm – 56cm.

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After hearing that Saw-Whets are very common in Ontario, I wanted nothing more than to photograph them in the wild.  Some are year-round residents, others are moving through on their migration path.  It seems like searching for a needle in a haystack at times, but once you learn their habits, migration patterns and keep an eye on recent bird sightings… it’s not as hard to find them as you would think.

They prefer to live in coniferous forests with small, dense trees around clearings with lots of vole, deer mice and shrew activity but are also found in deciduous woodlands.  They are nocturnal, so during the day will be found roosting in these trees and trying to blend in.  They will usually not move around much during the day unless disturbed.

It’s very important not to disturb them or flush them from their perches. It is approximated that only one-quarter of raptors survive their first year, and only half of these will reach maturity and raise their own young.  Unfortunately at least four of the Saw-Whets I was able to photograph this season were killed by Red-Tailed Hawks in the area.  They are easy prey with little to defend themselves.

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Their defense upon discovery is to “freeze,” hoping they will not be seen.  This causes the misinterpretation by many people that they are “tame.”  This is not the case. Although their defense strategy does allow you to get closer to them than most birds of prey, you still need to respect their boundaries.

They hunt at dusk and dawn; waiting until their prey is close and dropping down on them from a low perch at the edge of forests or by a clearing.

No use without photographer’s permission under any circumstances.

Over the course of a few weeks while they were around my area, I went at least every few days to see them.  Some days they were deep within the pine trees and there were not many photo opportunities but just being able to see them in the wild was thrilling.

Other days, they were in more accessible areas and I got all the photos I wanted.  It just made me realize how important it is to know your subject and their habits and how to open my eyes and really be observant of  all the wildlife signs around me.

No use without photographer’s permission under any circumstances.

All the Saw-Whets in that area are now gone, so I’ve been doing the drive to Kingston every few days to see them on Amherst Island.  I keep a close eye on recent sightings and make regular trips when I find a small population of the Saw-Whets.

I could talk about camera settings etc, but I found the most important thing in getting good shots of these Owls is patience.  I get there early and sometimes sit around all day once I’ve located the Owls, just waiting for them to be in good light or against an interesting background.  When they do move into a good location, I am usually already in a perfect position and can take my shots without moving around too much.

No use without photographer’s permission under any circumstances.

Since I’ve been pursuing photography full-time, I’ve had lots of time to travel and there are many destinations on my list that I can’t wait to experience.  My main interest has always been nature and wildlife photography and I’ve learned that while I can travel all over, there’s still so much to see even in my own backyard.  The wildlife has always been there and yet it took a passion in photography for me to realize it.

For more information on Megan Lorenz, click here to visit her photography website.

Matthew Burrard-Lucas – The Chimpanzees of Mahale

Nature’s Best Ambassadors – Matthew and Will Burrard-Lucas

Matthew and Will Burrard-Lucas, our Nature’s Best Ambassadors, recently took a trip to the Mahale Mountains National Park in Tanzania. Here is their story from the field. For more from the Burrard-Lucas brothers, visit their blog.

The Mahale Mountains National Park is a remote and mysterious place. It is nestled between the sandy white shores of Lake Tanganyika and the 2,000m high peaks of the Mahale Mountains. The hoots and screams of chimpanzees and other primates can be heard echoing through the dark and humid forest. The area is home to around 800 chimpanzees of which one group is habituated to humans. This “M” group has around 60 individuals.

No use without photographer’s permission under any circumstances.

No use without photographer’s permission under any circumstances.

Chimpanzees are highly social primates and have complex relationships and hierarchies. The group is dominated by an alpha male chimpanzee that has mating rights to the females. The current alpha male of the “M” group is called Pimu. He is generally regarded as a bit of a tyrant – he often acts very aggressively towards other chimps and has even attacked his own mother. His violence has caused the group to be unsettled and the other males often perform impressive displays of their own strength. The number two chimpanzee is called Alofu, and it was with a picture of him that I won my age category in Wildlife Photographer of the Year in 2005.

No use without photographer’s permission under any circumstances.

No use without photographer’s permission under any circumstances.

Disease transmission from humans is a major concern for the chimpanzees’ health. Twelve chimps died recently from flu that would have been caught from people. This means that all visitors, guides and researches are required to wear medical face masks. These masks make it difficult to take photographs because the camera’s viewfinder fogs up. Therefore Will and I resorted to holding our breath when using our cameras – not easy after a long trek! A minimum distance of 10m from the chimps must also be maintained. Whilst these regulations make it difficult for photography, they must be respected for the welfare of the chimpanzees.

No use without photographer’s permission under any circumstances.

No use without photographer’s permission under any circumstances.

The main threats to the Mahale Mountains National Park are isolation (wildlife corridors to neighbouring reserves are being lost), wildfires and invasive floral species such as Senna and Guava. Thankfully, poaching does not appear to be a serious issue in Mahale. Ongoing research is conducted by Japanese scientists who study the chimpanzee’s behaviour and biology. The project was started in 1965, only a few years after Jane Goodall began her research in Gombe.

No use without photographer’s permission under any circumstances.

No use without photographer’s permission under any circumstances.

For more from the Burrard-Lucas brothers, visit their blog.
To learn more about the Nature’s Best Ambassadors program, click here.

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