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June 2011 "Head Start"
Immature Gray Jay, Perisoreus canadensis, Interior Alaska

When all the songbirds are only thinking of their journey to Alaska, the resident Gray Jays have mated and are already hatching their young for the season. So now in late May, just as the smaller birds are arriving, this month-old predator is ready to begin feasting on their eggs and hatchling--an evolutionary 'head start' to insure survival. In September the immatures will lose their darker gray feathers and assume the two-tone gray color of the parents.

Canon 7D camera, EF 100-400mm f4.5L IS lens at 380mm, exposure of 1/500 at f8, ISO 320, handheld with Image Stabilization.

May 2011 "Face Of Character"
White Rhino, Lake Nakuru National Park, Kenya

Despite being poached throughout Kenya, the White Rhinos in relatively secure Lake Nakuru NP are so used to tourist vehicles that they give them very little notice--allowing study close-up. (The Black Rhinos are a different story--they usually keep to the forested areas and are much more reclusive.) This close-up reveals a fresh scar from jousting with another rhino, and a muddy face from digging into mud with its horn.

Canon 1D Mark 2 camera, EF 500mm f4.5L lens, exposure of 1/80 at f8, with ISO 100, on an Arca Swiss B-1 ballhead and Kirk window mount.

April 2011 "Vole Feeder"
Northern Red-backed Vole, Myodes rutilus, Interior Alaska

Birds on a platform feeder can be messy, resulting in some seeds falling to the snow below. This Red-backed Vole, along with many other of his friends, uses a myriad of tunnels in the snow to access these seeds--but always staying within a foot of the hole in case they need to disappear quickly. This food windfall supplements their usual diet of berries and lichens now covered with snow, and accessed by the same tunnels.

Canon 5D camera, EF 100-400mm f4.5L IS lens at 400mm, exposure of 1/200 at f7.1, ISO 500, handheld with Image Stabilization.

March 2011 "Collecting Building Supplies"
Secretary Bird, Sagittarius serpentarius, Lake Nakuru NP, Kenya

Most would think that the name of this strange-looking bird of prey ('body of an eagle, legs of a crane') refer to the long quill-like crest feathers, but more likely was derived from a corrupted translation of an Arabic word for 'hunter bird'. This terrestrial hunter of insects, snakes, lizards and young birds builds a large nest (8 feet in diameter) fairly high in an Acacia tree, built of sticks like this adult is collecting. This species shows very little sexual dimorphism, so the sexes appear almost identical.

Canon 1D Mark 2 camera, EF 500mm f4.5L lens, exposure of 1/400 at f7.1, with ISO 250, on an Arca Swiss B-1 ballhead and Kirk window mount.

Februrary 2011 "Underfoot"
Baby Elephant, Samburu National Reserve, Kenya

The 'rule of thumb' for estimating the age of an elephant baby is that if it can walk under its mother, it is less than one year old. This tyke is even younger, and freely wandered underfoot of the herd--miraculously, unscathed. Elephants are very social animals and very cognizant of the babies wandering underfoot.

Canon 1D Mark 2 camera, EF 500mm f4.5L lens, exposure of 1/60 at f4.5, with ISO 125, on an Arca Swiss B-1 ballhead and Kirk window mount.

January 2011 "Rarely Photographed"
Caracal, Harnas Animal Rescue & Rehabilitation, Namibia

Harnas began as a cattle ranch that became a sanctuary for abandoned, injured and orphaned animals, then evolved into a Guest Farm to help support the costs of the rescued animals, and now expanded into a Wildlife Foundation that supports the animals (both wild and domestic), the local population (by providing jobs and education), farmers (by removing problem predators) and Namibia tourism (by providing rare wildlife experiences). Visit their website at www.harnas.org.

This Caracal was part of the rehabilitation program when I visited in 2001, so I was able to observe first-hand this rarely photographed cat. Although considered by some African farmers as vermin (they do prey on domisticated livestock), they are very secretive and rarely seen on safari.