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December 2009 "Bad Idea"
Cheetah cub on tire
Cheetah Cub, Masai Mara Reserve, Kenya

Not a lot of play toys for a young cheetah cub on the Masai Mara--pouncing on mother's tail, chasing your sisters and carrying sticks gets old fast. But those pesky photographer and lodge vehicles do serve their purpose--mobile sources of shade from the sun, nice elevated observation platforms, and giant jungle gyms! Unfortunately the cubs don't always understand the hazards involved, although in this instance all the surrounding vehicle drivers were quick to warn the driver of this Land Rover to not move.

Canon 1D Mark 2 camera, EF 500mm f4.5L lens, exposure of 1/100 at f5.6, with ISO 400, on an Arca Swiss B-1 ballhead and Kirk window mount.

November 2009 "Wardrobe Malfunction"
Snowshoe Hare winter coat
Snowshoe Hare, Near Denali National Park, Alaska

What's a poor hare to do? First it snows in late September, so his brown summer coat on the fresh white snow causes him to stick out like a sore thumb. He hurriedly changes over to his luxurious white winter coat but then all the snow melts, making him even more obvious to all the foxes, lynx, hawks and owls that want to invite him to dinner. No wonder hares reproduce prodigiously so that some will survive...

Canon 5D Mark 2 camera, EF 500mm f4.5L lens, exposure of 1/400 at f8, at ISO 800, Foba Superball on Feisol CT-3371 tripod.

October 2009 "Zebra Parade"
Zebras at sunrise
Burchell's Zebras, Masai Mara Reserve, Kenya

"The Great Wildebeest Migration" across the Serengeti Plains includes thousands of zebra and gazelles, also in search of better grazing. Zebra usually precede the wildebeest, foraging on the longer (and less nutritious) grasses -- effectively exposing the more nutritious shorter grasses for those to follow.

The main migration contains many mini-migrations, where the smell of rain on the wind or the hope that greener grasses can be found over the next hill causes the bands of animals to follow whomever wants to lead. And since most grazing is away from water sources, each day the wildebeest and zebra trek across the plains searching for water.

Canon 1D Mark 2 camera, EF 100-400mm f4.5L lens at 190mm, exposure of 1/200 at f9, with ISO 125, hand held with Image Stabilization.

September 2009 "Bear Comb"
Sable Pass Sign
Spiked Sable Pass Sign, Denali National Park

Wooden elevation signs on Sable Pass don't last very long. Redwood must have the right consistency for chewing, because bears love to chew on them. To slow their demise, the National Park Service "spikes" the edges with large nails to discourage chewing, but they still end up looking sad in short order. But on the plus side, the bears have a handy comb...

Canon PowerShot A710 IS camera, 1/400 second at f4 exposure, at 10mm focal length.

August 2009 "Alfred E. Neuman Found"
Olive Baboon
Olive Baboon, Tarangire National Park, Tanzania

For those who can't recall the name "Alfred E. Neuman", he was the fictional mascot of Mad magazine. First appearing in the 1950s, that mischevious "What, me worry?" grin has roots back to the turn of the 20th century, and that look of idiocy has been compared to many famous people since (including at least one President).

Canon 1D Mark 2 camera, EF 100-400mm f4.5L lens at 380mm, exposure of 1/160 at f8, with ISO 200, hand held with Image Stabilization.

July 2009 "Sable Pass Landslide"
Sable Pass Landslide
Block Landslide, Sable Pass, Denali National Park

The earth in Denali National Park can be fairly unstable--besides the usual erosion (rain, wind, gravity), underlying layers of permafrost and gravity can produce interesting events. This hillside, which appeared to be stable, suddenly slid without any obvious external causes (heavy rain, earthquake, etc.). Blocks the size of houses slid intact over a wet layer of what looks to be melting permafrost (which most likely was caused by underground water). Now, just about a month later, weathering and gravity are slowly eating away at the blocks, and in the not too distant future, the result will be just another patch of uneven hillside.

Canon 5D Mark 2 camera, EF 100-400mm f4.5L lens at 115mm, exposure of 1/125 at f7.1, with ISO 500, hand held with Image Stabilization, under poor lighting conditions.