Monthly Archives

February 2010

How I Lost My Apple-ginity

Wisdom

You know the feeling. That special iFeeling. You walk into the Apple Store and immediately have the joy. Oooh. Aaah. “How cool would it be to have one of those? Just think how my photography experience would improve with THAT! I know I could be twice as productive with that phone!” My kids love the Apple Store too. “iDad, can I have one of these? I really need it for school!” My wallet climbs out of my pocket and prostrates itself across the “genius bar” before I notice and yank it back. I have an Apple Store a few minutes from my house. It’s my happy place. My car knows the way blindfolded. However, in spite of the fact that I have worked with personal computers since 1984 (yup, the PC-XT), I’ve been a dyed-in-the-wool PC/Windows guy for reasons related to the tech I practice, and have resisted owning an Apple (other than our many iPods, 7 or 8 I think, I’ve lost count).

27 iMac Quad Core Gorgeous Screen

27" iMac Quad Core Gorgeous Screen

Well, I am officially no longer an iVirgin. I am swooning and smitten, shining with that lovely glow that only one’s first iMac can produce. I just picked up a beautiful quad-core iMac 27″. I decided that, given the 30,000 images and hours of video I shot on my recent trip, and the limited time I have to get the images edited and prepped, I should at least have a fun new toy to make the process fun and go quickly. I’m also starting to switch some of my workflow to Lightroom. (I am using Lightroom 3 beta at the moment. It seems more stable on the iMac than on Windows.). Given that Lightroom runs beautifully on a Mac, and the fact that the 27″ iMac monitor is so so sweet, I broke down and bought one. And guess what? Now I’m a hero with my iKids too! My girls have totally taken over the thing until the wee hours of the night when I kick them off and get down to work of editing my images, reliving the places I saw and the animals I met in glorious 27″ iReality.

Oooooooooh, sweeeeeeeet.

Oooooooooh, sweeeeeeeet.

The monitor problem that everyone is reporting? Well, from the comments on the internet it is a real issue. My monitor may have the very faintest yellow tinge to it, it is hard to say. I tried this test: http://imac.squeaked.com/test.php and found no dead or stuck pixels (good thing), and depending on the angle of view there may be a bit of a yellow tinge to the lower portion of the monitor. So I guess I’ll have it checked soon.

Apple says they have fixed the problem. So at least they recognize there is a problem and those who are affected may get some satisfaction.

I’m moving forward with it. I was able to calibrate the monitor and get down to work with it, and am happy with the results. The screen is so large, with so many pixels, that working in Lightroom is a breeze even with all the panes opened up.

So, as long as this gushing love story remains on my blog, you can assume I am happy with my iMac. But, like the fickle females that share my house, I may change my mind! And if I do, you’ll see a rant here and I’ll go back to my old CaptureOne software running on a Windows machine.

Westpoint Island, Falkland Islands

Falklands, Southern Ocean

Photos of Westpoint Island and Rockhopper Penguins, Falkland Islands

Morning finds us at Westpoint Island. We can only see about 200’ up into the rolling green hills; heavy cloud cover obscures everything above that. It looks wet in the hills. Our zodiac lands on a small boat ramp, one of the few “dry landings” we will have during the trip. We are told we have the option of hiking 1.5 miles to the albatross rookery, or we can hitch a ride on a Land Rover. I opt for the latter. The countryside is pastoral, lush and soft and would be difficult for most vehicles, but the sturdy Rover has no problems.

Colony of nesting black-browed albatross, rockhopper penguins and Imperial shags, set high above the ocean on tussock grass-covered seacliffs, Thalassarche melanophrys,  Eudyptes chrysocome, Phalacrocorax atriceps, Westpoint Island

Colony of nesting black-browed albatross, rockhopper penguins and Imperial shags, set high above the ocean on tussock grass-covered seacliffs.
Image ID: 23935
Species: Black-browed albatross, Rockhopper penguin, Imperial shag, Thalassarche melanophrys, Eudyptes chrysocome, Phalacrocorax atriceps
Location: Westpoint Island, Falkland Islands, United Kingdom

The “road” is somewhat ambiguous. We roll by some old wooden gates, a few windmills and some sheep. It is foggy and drizzling. I feel British. Soon we reach a colony of black-browed albatross (Thalassarche melanophrys), Imperial shag (Phalacrocorax atriceps) and rockhopper penguins (Eudyptes chrysocome) dramatically set on bluffs high above the sea. This is our first bout with tussock grass. It is rumored to be awkward to walk through, but at this spot the waist-high maze is fairly easy to navigate.

Western rockhopper penguin, standing atop tussock grass near a rookery of black-browed albatross, Eudyptes chrysocome, Westpoint Island

Western rockhopper penguin, standing atop tussock grass near a rookery of black-browed albatross.
Image ID: 23932
Species: Rockhopper penguin, Eudyptes chrysocome
Location: Westpoint Island, Falkland Islands, United Kingdom

The edge of the colony abuts the tussock so that we can stand just a few feet away from the birds but still be behind large tufts of grass. The sounds are wonderful: wind, penguins vocalizations, clucks by the albatrosses. I brought a long lens and immediately realize it is overkill. I return to my bag and pull out my widest lens so that I can shoot some video of the colony.

Black-browed albatross, adult on nest with chick, Thalassarche melanophrys, Westpoint Island

Black-browed albatross, adult on nest with chick.
Image ID: 23946
Species: Black-browed albatross, Thalassarche melanophrys
Location: Westpoint Island, Falkland Islands, United Kingdom

I change locations on the periphery of the colony a few times, photographing and shooting video. At one spot, some rockhoppers march to a small creek to bathe and groom. After a few hours it is time to return to the landing, in the Land Rover again. Such a smooth ride, I must get one of these. We are offered tea and bisquits at the settlement cottage at the landing. I feel British some more. We return to the boat for lunch, and reposition to Carcass Island.

All of my photography from the trip is linked to the location where the images were taken. If you have Google Earth, you can see all of my photos from Westpoint Island overlaid at the exact location they were taken.

Next: Carcass Island, Falkland Islands
Previous: New Island, Falkland Islands
Trip Index: Cheesemans Antarctica, Falklands and South Georgia
All “Southern Ocean” entries

New Island, Falkland Islands

Falklands, Southern Ocean

Photos of New Island, Falkland Islands

Tall seacliffs overlook the southern Atlantic Ocean, a habitat on which albatross and penguin reside, New Island

Tall seacliffs overlook the southern Atlantic Ocean, a habitat on which albatross and penguin reside.
Image ID: 23809
Location: New Island, Falkland Islands, United Kingdom

Today is New Years Day, an appropos date on which to land at New Island in the Falklands, our first landing of the trip. Set next to the ocean in a small bight is New Island Settlement, a picturesque set of cottages at the edge of the bay above a sandy beach. We depart from the boat in zodiacs for the shore, leave our dry bags and life preservers in a pile on the beach, and begin an easy walk over wet, grassy hills to a rockhopper rookery. Flightless steamer ducks, kelp geese and upland geese mill about on the sand and through the tall grass. The weather is quite mild so I only need shorts and a light fleece under my foulies. The rockhopper colony is located at the top of seacliffs several hundred feet above the ocean, in a small bowl-shaped depression. Black-browed albatross and imperial shags (cormorants) are mixed in and around the colony as well. To the right of the colony, cut through the cliffs, is a gully that runs steeply down to the water. It is a thoroughfare for rockhoppers, a way for them to pass from the sea to their colony above. Clean penguins coming from the sea pass up the gully to their nests, while muddy penguins descend. I make my way down the gully carefully, eventually reaching the rocky shore. Many rockhoppers are scattered on the rocks, coming and going to sea. A South American sea lion bull patrols the rocks, presumably hoping to catch an unwary penguin. Some of us sit on the rocks and just watch, taking pictures and admiring the rockhoppers.

Photographer Al Bruton, photographing Magellanic penguins on grasslands above the ocean, New Island

Photographer Al Bruton, photographing Magellanic penguins on grasslands above the ocean.
Image ID: 23799
Location: New Island, Falkland Islands, United Kingdom

Sand beach at New Island Settlement, with zodiac ashore and shipwrreck

Sand beach at New Island Settlement, with zodiac ashore and shipwrreck.
Image ID: 23800
Location: New Island, Falkland Islands, United Kingdom

After a few hours, it is time to make our way to the second landing. Rather than return to the big boat, some of us choose to motor straight there by zodiac. Others opt to hike there. We land on another sand beach, with green hills above. The overcast conditions have lifted and we now are favored with blue skies, scattered clouds and some breeze. The objective is to walk to three locations about half mile apart from one another and the beach we are on now: an albatross colony, a gentoo colony and a white sand beach known for surfing penguins. The first thing I encounter on my walk are a series of Magellanic penguins burrowing in the grass. They are cute, standing at the entrances to their small dirt caves. I stick around for 45 minutes checking them out. I don’t see the main group of people so I head off in the direction I think they are, eventually coming to a broad plateau atop the island littered with strange flat, weathered rocks.

Interesting rock formations on plateau atop New Island

Interesting rock formations on plateau atop New Island.
Image ID: 23802
Location: New Island, Falkland Islands, United Kingdom

Continuing through the rocks, my walk takes me to a long line of high sea cliffs offering spectacular views, with albatrosses nesting in many places. The wind is blowing but it is quite warm. I sit for a while, take some photos and admire the view. I am quite alone here, not able to see anyone else at the moment. I have this section of cliffs to myself, but for the birds. I make some photos. Eventually I hike over a couple promontories to reach the others at a dense colony of penguins, albatross and shags, also atop sheer seacliffs. There are more animals here but the setting at my previous spot is far more impressive. I take only a few photos, but shoot some videos trying to capture the sounds of the bird life.

Gentoo penguins coming ashore, after foraging at sea, walking through ocean water as it wades onto a sand beach.  Adult gentoo penguins grow to be 30" and 19lb in size.  They feed on fish and crustaceans.  Gentoo penguins reside in colonies well inland from the ocean, often formed of a circular collection of stones gathered by the penguins, Pygoscelis papua, New Island

Gentoo penguins coming ashore, after foraging at sea, walking through ocean water as it wades onto a sand beach. Adult gentoo penguins grow to be 30″ and 19lb in size. They feed on fish and crustaceans. Gentoo penguins reside in colonies well inland from the ocean, often formed of a circular collection of stones gathered by the penguins.
Image ID: 23831
Species: Gentoo penguin, Pygoscelis papua
Location: New Island, Falkland Islands, United Kingdom

Gentoo penguin colony, set above and inland from the ocean on flat grasslands.  Individual nests are formed of small rocks collected by the penguins, New Island

Gentoo penguin colony, set above and inland from the ocean on flat grasslands. Individual nests are formed of small rocks collected by the penguins.
Image ID: 23806
Location: New Island, Falkland Islands, United Kingdom

Soon I leave to hike over a low saddle in the island to reach the third spot of the afternoon, another beach. On the way there I pass several gentoo penguin colonies, set high on the grasslands above the water. The squacking and clicking is loud and raucous, and constant. I sit and listen for a while. After a while I continue down the grassy hills to the surfing beach and arrive there late. Clouds have stolen the sunshine just as I arrive. The others are all departing, photographers included, so I get the sense I have missed the surfing penguins. Eventually, the last of the passengers and staff head back to our originally landing spot, reminding me the last zodiac off the island is in 90 minutes. However, luck is with me and the clouds soon back off, leaving me alone on a beautiful, wide, white sand beach in late afternoon light. Gentoo penguins are coming ashore, splashing in the surf as they do so, making their way to their nearby rookery. I try to photograph them in action in the surf zone but have a hunch I did not stick any really good shots, we’ll see. I spend some time away from the camera, just watching the penguins as they do their thing, and listening to the sounds of the surf, wind and the clucking of the birds. There are large gentoo colonies on a rise above the beach 100 yards away making a constant, low buzzing sound. I am loathe to leave this idyllic spot, and wait until I only have about 15 minutes to hoof it the mile back to the landing in my goofy muck boots and heavy backpack. Time for a workout! I am sweating but happy when I reach the last zodiac and head back to the boat for a shower and a well-earned meal. After dinner I spend some photographing the birds – mostly giant petrels and a few albatross – that follow the boat as we motor to Westpoint Island. I light them with flash, producing a bright sharp bird against a darker sky, pretty neat. What a day. The trip has barely just begun yet I have seen so much already.

All of my photography from the trip is linked to the location where the images were taken. If you have Google Earth, you can see all of my photos from New Island overlaid at the exact location they were taken.

Next: Westpoint Island, Falkland Islands
Previous: Southern Giant Petrel, Macronectes giganteus, Southern Ocean
Trip Index: Cheesemans Antarctica, Falklands and South Georgia
All “Southern Ocean” entries

Southern Giant Petrel, Macronectes giganteus, Southern Ocean

Falklands, Seabird, Southern Ocean

Our trip began with a two-night crossing from Ushuaia to the Falklands. During that middle day, as we sailed north-east though the Southern Ocean, we had some good bird watching, including albatrosses, prions (tiny little rocket birds I am not qualified to photograph), small petrels and the larger and more impressive giant petrels. I spent a lot of time on the back deck, admiring the birds and trying to get photos of them when they came close to the ship. (I typically shot birds from the big boat with 300mm f/2.8 lens with 1.4x converter on a full frame body, which was the perfect setup.) We were on the very stable 270′ ship M/V Polar Star, and had very calm seas for our crossing, so standing on deck and shooting was a breeze.

Southern giant petrel in flight.  The distinctive tube nose (naricorn), characteristic of species in the Procellariidae family (tube-snouts), is easily seen, Macronectes giganteus

Southern giant petrel in flight. The distinctive tube nose (naricorn), characteristic of species in the Procellariidae family (tube-snouts), is easily seen.
Image ID: 23681
Species: Southern giant petrel, Macronectes giganteus
Location: Falkland Islands, United Kingdom

This day, the birds I photographed the most were the giant petrels, there were just so many of them. They are quite bold, coming alongside the boat often and soaring smoothly, making it easy for even a non-bird-photographer such as myself to get some keeper shots. As for identification, it was not clear to me which species of giant petrel I was seeing. Recently, I consulted with two staff member from our trip, Dave Shaw (Fairbanks, AK) and Jim Danzenbaker, both of whom are skilled at bird identification and educated us during our trip about seabird natural history. Dave is blogging about the trip too, and has had some great posts recently. Did I mention that the staff on our trip was tops? Thanks Dave and Jim. From them I learned that most of the giant petrels I photographed crossing to the Falklands were Southern Giant Petrels (Macronectes giganteus), but after moving south to South Georgia I ended up photographing mostly Northern Giant Petrels (Macronectes halli). Does that sound bass ackwards? Their ranges do overlap considerably.

Southern giant petrel in flight.  The distinctive tube nose (naricorn), characteristic of species in the Procellariidae family (tube-snouts), is easily seen, Macronectes giganteus

Southern giant petrel in flight. The distinctive tube nose (naricorn), characteristic of species in the Procellariidae family (tube-snouts), is easily seen.
Image ID: 23682
Species: Southern giant petrel, Macronectes giganteus
Location: Falkland Islands, United Kingdom

All the birds in this blog post I believe are Southern Giant Petrels. I’ll post about Northern Giant Petrels when we get to South Georgia Island. In appearance the two species are quite similar to one another which, combined with their range overlap, can make separating them difficult. Dave Shaw suggested that I lookfor a green bill tip (for Southern Giant Petrels) versus red bill tip (Northern), as well as eye color (pale is more common in Northern, darker eye in Southern). About the only sure thing for identifying giant petrels is the white morph, also known as a “white nellie”; the white morph is only known to occur in the Southern Giant Petrel. The Southern Giant Petrel measures up to 39″ long, with a wingspan of up to 81″. Adult males weight 11 lb. while females weight up to 18 lb. My hunch is that the large size for females is an adaptation to reproductive demands. Giant petrels range throughout the Southern Ocean, including Antarctica. The Southern species has a range which is centered somewhat south of that of the Northern species. When in the same location, the two species exhibit temporal separation in their breeding, with Northern giant petrels breeding some six weeks earlier than Southern giant petrels. As of 2009, there are estimated to be 46,800 nesting pairs and the species is listed as “least concern”, an improvement over counts and status of a decade ago. The giant petrel, like many pelagic birds, is at risk of injury and death from longline fishing equipment. Giant petrels are members of the tube-nose order (Procellariiformes) and display the characteristic tubular snout above the bill.

White nellie, the white morph of the southern giant petrel.  Southern giant petrel in flight, Macronectes giganteus

White nellie, the white morph of the southern giant petrel. Southern giant petrel in flight.
Image ID: 23678
Species: Southern giant petrel, Macronectes giganteus
Location: Falkland Islands, United Kingdom

I often photographed the giant petrels at sunset, hoping to put them against a pastel sky and light them with a little flash. The results were most pleasing for albatrosses, but I did get some nice images of giant petrels zooming over the water after dark. I liked this one best:

Southern giant petrel in flight at dusk, after sunset, as it soars over the open ocean in search of food, Macronectes giganteus

Southern giant petrel in flight at dusk, after sunset, as it soars over the open ocean in search of food.
Image ID: 23680
Species: Southern giant petrel, Macronectes giganteus
Location: Falkland Islands, United Kingdom

See more photos of Southern Giant Petrels, Macronectes giganteus photos.

Next: New Island, Falkland Islands
Previous: Cerro Cinco Hermanos, The Five Brothers, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina
Trip Index: Cheesemans Antarctica, Falklands and South Georgia
All “Southern Ocean” entries

Sunrise Pelican

La Jolla, Pelicans

On a recent winter morning I found this adult California brown pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis californicus) displaying the species’ characteristic winter breeding plumage (note the chestnut hindneck) posing nicely as the distant sky took on the pre-sunrise purple glow. This is basically straight out of the camera. I did not adjust the white balance nor did I bump up the saturation. The pink in the distance is the sky, the blue below it is the ocean. La Jolla, California.

California brown pelican, portrait in pink-purple predawn light, rests on sandstone seabluff.  The characteristic mating plumage of the California race of brown pelican is shown, with red gular throat pouch and dark brown hindneck colors, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla

California brown pelican, portrait in pink-purple predawn light, rests on sandstone seabluff. The characteristic mating plumage of the California race of brown pelican is shown, with red gular throat pouch and dark brown hindneck colors.
Image ID: 23646
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Here are a few more, just a few minutes after sunrise (about 7am):

Portrait of California brown pelican, with the characteristic winter mating plumage shown: red throat, yellow head and dark brown hindneck, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla

Portrait of California brown pelican, with the characteristic winter mating plumage shown: red throat, yellow head and dark brown hindneck.
Image ID: 23647
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

California pelican in flight, soaring over the ocean.  The wingspan of this large ocean-going seabird can reach 7' from wing tip to wing tip, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla

California pelican in flight, soaring over the ocean. The wingspan of this large ocean-going seabird can reach 7′ from wing tip to wing tip.
Image ID: 23657
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

I never get tired of photographing these beautiful birds. See a Guide to Photographing Pelicans in La Jolla.

California Pelican with Identification Tag

Pelicans

Garry McCarthy forwarded this link to me today, about the distress that many California brown pelicans (Pelecanus occidentalis californicus) are in this winter: 14 recovering pelicans released along Calif. coast. It appears that this year’s El Nino phenomenon is causing fish to be deeper in the ocean than normal, making it difficult for pelicans to obtain enough food. As a consequence, many are emaciated and hypothermic. The lucky ones are receiving care at various shelters along the coast, and bear identification tags when they are released. Here is one juvenile brown pelican bearing two tags (blue and gray) that I photographed yesterday. In the background are two other pelicans, both with darker hindneck plumage indicating they are breeding adults. All three of the birds are preening.

Brown pelican, juvenile with blue and gray identification bands on its legs. This large seabird has a wingspan over 7 feet wide. The California race of the brown pelican holds endangered species status, due largely to predation in the early 1900s and to decades of poor reproduction caused by DDT poisoning, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla

Brown pelican, juvenile with blue and gray identification bands on its legs. This large seabird has a wingspan over 7 feet wide. The California race of the brown pelican holds endangered species status, due largely to predation in the early 1900s and to decades of poor reproduction caused by DDT poisoning
Image ID: 23630
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Brown pelican, juvenile with blue and gray identification bands on its legs. This large seabird has a wingspan over 7 feet wide. The California race of the brown pelican holds endangered species status, due largely to predation in the early 1900s and to decades of poor reproduction caused by DDT poisoning, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla

Brown pelican, juvenile with blue and gray identification bands on its legs. This large seabird has a wingspan over 7 feet wide. The California race of the brown pelican holds endangered species status, due largely to predation in the early 1900s and to decades of poor reproduction caused by DDT poisoning
Image ID: 23631
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

See more animal identification tag photos, photos of animals with ID tags and a Guide to Photographing Pelicans in La Jolla.

Cerro Cinco Hermanos, The Five Brothers, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina

Southern Ocean, Tierra del Fuego

Photo of Monte Cinco Hermanos, The Five Brothers, Ushuaia, Argentina

As we left Ushuaia and sailed down the Beagle Channel, one of the highlights was the sight of Cerro Cinco Hermanos (or Monte Cinco Hermanos, The Five Brothers, 1280m). Along with Monte Olivia, these rugged peaks rise high above Ushuaia but are often shrouded in clouds. We were fortunate to see them clearly as we departed Tierra del Fuego and motored down the Beagle Channel toward the Southern Ocean and the Falkland Islands.

The Five Brothers (Mount Cinco Hermanos, 1280m) in the Fuegian Andes, a cluster of peaks above Ushuaia, the capital of the Tierra del Fuego region of Argentina, Beagle Channel

The Five Brothers (Mount Cinco Hermanos, 1280m) in the Fuegian Andes, a cluster of peaks above Ushuaia, the capital of the Tierra del Fuego region of Argentina.
Image ID: 23618
Location: Beagle Channel, Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina

Next: Southern Giant Petrel, Macronectes giganteus, Southern Ocean
Previous: Tierra del Fuego National Park, Argentina
Trip Index: Cheesemans Antarctica, Falklands and South Georgia
All “Southern Ocean” entries

Brown Pelicans

La Jolla, Pelicans

This morning I photographed brown pelicans (Pelecanus occidentalis californicus) in La Jolla. I really don’t need any more photos of pelicans but the setting is so beautiful that I keep returning. I’ve enjoyed these cliffs for 30 years. (We used to cliff dive off of them in college but now the lawyers and beaurocrats have made it illegal.) At this time of year the pelican’s winter plumage is in force, with deep red throat colors and dark brown hind neck on most of the adults. We moved in December, and I was gone most of the month of January, so this was my first trip down to La Jolla this winter even though it is just a few minutes down the coast. All of these were shot with Canon 1Ds Mark III, 300 f/2.8 lens, handheld or with a monopod, some with flash fill.

Brown pelican, golden sunrise light, winter adult breeding plumage, showing bright red gular pouch and dark brown hindneck plumage of breeding adults. This large seabird has a wingspan over 7 feet wide. The California race of the brown pelican holds endangered species status, due largely to predation in the early 1900s and to decades of poor reproduction caused by DDT poisoning, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla

Brown pelican, golden sunrise light, winter adult breeding plumage, showing bright red gular pouch and dark brown hindneck plumage of breeding adults. This large seabird has a wingspan over 7 feet wide. The California race of the brown pelican holds endangered species status, due largely to predation in the early 1900s and to decades of poor reproduction caused by DDT poisoning
Image ID: 23624
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Brown pelican, winter adult breeding plumage, showing bright red gular pouch and dark brown hindneck plumage of breeding adults. This large seabird has a wingspan over 7 feet wide. The California race of the brown pelican holds endangered species status, due largely to predation in the early 1900s and to decades of poor reproduction caused by DDT poisoning, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla

Brown pelican, winter adult breeding plumage, showing bright red gular pouch and dark brown hindneck plumage of breeding adults. This large seabird has a wingspan over 7 feet wide. The California race of the brown pelican holds endangered species status, due largely to predation in the early 1900s and to decades of poor reproduction caused by DDT poisoning
Image ID: 23622
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Brown pelican in flight.  The wingspan of the brown pelican is over 7 feet wide. The California race of the brown pelican holds endangered species status.  In winter months, breeding adults assume a dramatic plumage, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla

Brown pelican in flight. The wingspan of the brown pelican is over 7 feet wide. The California race of the brown pelican holds endangered species status. In winter months, breeding adults assume a dramatic plumage.
Image ID: 23623
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Brown pelican in flight.  The wingspan of the brown pelican is over 7 feet wide. The California race of the brown pelican holds endangered species status.  In winter months, breeding adults assume a dramatic plumage, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla

Brown pelican in flight. The wingspan of the brown pelican is over 7 feet wide. The California race of the brown pelican holds endangered species status. In winter months, breeding adults assume a dramatic plumage.
Image ID: 23625
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

See more brown pelican photos as well as our Guide to Photographing Pelicans in La Jolla.

Tierra del Fuego National Park, Argentina

Southern Ocean, Tierra del Fuego

Photos of Tierra del Fuego, Argentina

We were scheduled to board the M/V Polar Star late in the day which gave us time to make a whirlwind tour of Tierra del Fuego National Park. We saw some forest, a couple of peat bogs, a beautiful lake and some of the rocky coastline along the Beagle Channel. The coastline reminded me of central California in many ways. It was obvious to me that the Park is beautiful and large, but our limited time gave us only a glance. I felt the way I imagine many day visitors to Yosemite Valley feel: “Wow, time to go already?”.

Lago Roca in Tierra del Fuego National Park, Argentina, Ushuaia

Lago Roca in Tierra del Fuego National Park, Argentina.
Image ID: 23607
Location: Tierra del Fuego National Park, Ushuaia, Argentina

Beagle Channel from Tierra del Fuego National Park, Argentina, Ushuaia

Beagle Channel from Tierra del Fuego National Park, Argentina.
Image ID: 23608
Location: Tierra del Fuego National Park, Ushuaia, Argentina

Next: Cerro Cinco Hermanos, The Five Brothers, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina
Previous: Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina
Trip Index: Cheesemans Antarctica, Falklands and South Georgia
All “Southern Ocean” entries

Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina

Southern Ocean, Tierra del Fuego

Photo of Martial Glacier, Ushuaia, Argentina

I arrived in Ushuaia, Argentina with a couple of days to spare, to allow my luggage to catch up in case of delays. Where is Ushuaia, you say? It is a small but growing town at the southern tip of Argentina, situated on the archipelago of Tierra del Fuego. Ushuaia’s claim to fame — besides the fact that simply uttering “Ushuaia” is almost as fun as saying Mu Shu which is my favorite Chinese dish — is that Ushuaia is the southernmost city in the world! That, and the fact that it is only a two day sail from Ushuaia to the northern reaches of the Antarctic Peninsula across the notoriously rough waters of the Drake Passage and Cape Horn, means Ushuaia is on the itinerary for most people traveling in search of adventure in Antarctica.

Air travel is always unpleasant, but my connections this time were difficult for a couple reasons. I encountered crazy security screening at LAX. I flew on December 26, the day after the Christmas Day Terrorist tried — and failed! — to blow up his own underwear along with his fellow passengers. (Ma’salaama you clown. Epic fail in your plans for martyrdom and yet you still managed to make life miserable for the rest of us.) So in the wake of that event, security at LAX was seriously heightened and took a long while to navigate. It seems they always hand search my backpack, and this day was no exception. However, the TSA guy was a photographer (even able to ID my long lenses “300/2.8! 500/4!”). He was cool and made the search as pleasant as possible given the level of alert. Through Dallas then red-eye to Buenos Aires, where I joined a few others for a taxi from the international airport to the domestic airport. That’s where the fun really began. The arbitrary and capricious ticket agents at Aerolineas Argentina put several of us through the wringer for our heavy carryon bags. Jeez, folks, just charge me a fee already and let me on the plane! I was sweating it when they insisted I check my 40 pounds and $20k worth of gear through as checked luggage, knowing it would either be stolen or trashed. Eventually a “manager” let me carry it on the plane, for a “small fee”. Hey, this is South America, someone’s palm always has to be greased. Our flight to the southern tip of South America stopped in a few small places on the way, including El Calafate that climbers and trekkers use as a sending off point to reach Monte Fitz Roy and other remarkable Patagonian peaks — next time I should stop there and check out all that mountain stuff. The clouds on arrival to Ushuaia, wrapped around the towering peaks of the southern Andes mountains, were unbelievable. It was like we were flying in an IMax movie, very moving and heavenly. Eventually I reach the hotel, enjoy a nice Chilean wine, cheese and a tough hamburguesa, and hit the sack after about 40 hours of no sleep. Crashola.

Martial Glacier is a receding cirque glacier, located in the Montes Martial, Fuegian Andes approximately 1050m above sea level and only 4.5km outside of Ushuaia town, is named for Captain Luis Fernando Martial, head of a French expedition, who visited the area in 1883

Martial Glacier is a receding cirque glacier, located in the Montes Martial, Fuegian Andes approximately 1050m above sea level and only 4.5km outside of Ushuaia town, is named for Captain Luis Fernando Martial, head of a French expedition, who visited the area in 1883.
Image ID: 23600
Location: Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina

The following morning I take a cab for the short ride to Glaciar Martial (with a hard “T” in the name). It is overcast and chilly, but not too windy. I take the aerosilla (chairlift) up to the foot of a beautiful glacial valley, at the top of which is Martial Glacier. The view down the valley and out to the Beagle Channel, and beyond to what I think is Chile, is nice, and would be superb on a sunny day. Very few people are here, I like that! It is quiet. A small stream winds down the valley, melt from the glacier and snow fields above. I hike up to the glacier and look around. A few more people are here as I make my way down to the aerosilla again. I took no photos while up on the glacier, though, as the snow was falling more and more as the morning went on. It is raining hard now, so I make my way back to Ushuaia town and have lunch.

Dilapitated old wooden boat in Ushuaia harbor

Dilapitated old wooden boat in Ushuaia harbor.
Image ID: 23601
Location: Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina

The afternoon is lost to reading and wandering along the waterfront between rain squalls where I spot an interesting old scow lying dead in the water in the shallows of the harbor. Well, is this what I have to expect for our trip? Later, my roommate for the trip, Don, arrives and we get to know one another a bit. Dinner at the Albatross Hotel dining room with old friends Al and Beth, along with new friends Steve, Mary, Jay and Jackie, wraps up the day.

Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world, lies on the Beagle Channel with a small portion of the Andes mountain range rising above.  Ushuaia is the capital of the Tierra del Fuego region of Argentina and the gateway port for many expeditions to Antarctica

Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world, lies on the Beagle Channel with a small portion of the Andes mountain range rising above. Ushuaia is the capital of the Tierra del Fuego region of Argentina and the gateway port for many expeditions to Antarctica.
Image ID: 23603
Location: Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina

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