I returned from the Galápagos islands to Quito, Ecuador on Saturday and flew back into Milwaukee, Wis. yesterday around 9:30am CST. All luggage arrived back home safely, so I spent most of the day alternating between unpacking and laying on the couch. (I didn’t sleep on the red eye flight from Quito to Atlanta, but I did get a couple hours on the flight back to MKE).
Overall, it was a wonderful experience and the group, led by Artie Morris, was composed of many great people as well as our excellent guide to the Galápagos.
I have just begun the process of ranking and keywording my photographs from the trip. So far, I have only worked up three images–none of which have had more than Lightroom adjustments applied to them. I’m saving the cases that need some Photoshop magic for later!
I’ve been battling a cold ever since grad school got out for summer–a great way to celebrate the end of the year, but at least it didn’t strike during the week before when projects were due!–but yesterday, for the first time since getting home, I felt like making some images. The bird activity at home has been really great, although I picked a slow day to photograph (less likely to disturb the migrating species, though!). The suet feeder has been getting a lot of activity from our resident, nesting pair of Red-bellied Woodpeckers and our Downy Woodpecker, but it was really the nuthatch that let me get a good look at him.
Three flash units were set up on stands, combined with the late-afternoon sun, made for a four-light setup, albeit back-lit. I was trying to get some rim-lighting, and between the sun and another strobe back and to the right, I figured I would get quite a bit. I certainly got some, but not quite what I wanted. My key light was backed up quite a bit, and I had a fill on the left, which is casting the nuthatch’s shadow that you can see on the suet feeder.
CBS’ 60 Minutes just aired a segment on the use of an American pesticide, Furadan, marketed by FMC since 1967 as a “broad-spectrum insecticide-nematicide,” for a new purpose: killing African Lions–vital to the tourism industry of Kenya and other African countries as it is the icon of African wildlife. The reason is the same as the cause for the wolf population of the American west’s decline: they are predators that conflict with human ranching / agricultural production.
The highlight of the piece is a statement from FMC, which apparently blocked export of the insecticide to Kenya last year, that the product is “…important to the sustainability of agriculture in Kenya.” Seems like a mixed message to stress its necessity and then block its sale (for a while).
That said, it’s not really FMC’s fault that its product is being abused. But, that doesn’t mean that the company should not do more. Because of the grave risk, the FMC should bar all sale of Furadan to all African countries. The real problem is a sad economic situation combined with a readily-available, inexpensive, and potent solution: a cheap poison.
Note that the video is, at times, hard to watch for those who truly admire and respect wildlife.
I recently returned from Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in San Antonio, New Mexico. I’ve posted a small gallery online and more images will follow.
Bosque was certainly slower this year than during my visit two years ago. The corn fields have been cut far away from the Farm Loop road, and the weed–especially Salt Cedar–have grown to the point that they block any view to be had from the road.
The mornings were the most productive, and in the afternoon Dad and I would find ourselves driving aimlessly until 4pm, when the cranes would begin to fly back to the pools on the entrance road.