Art Prints

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Journey Continues...

 © Tony Beck

Gentoo Penguin © Tony Beck

The Journey continues:

We are following Tony Beck  on his journey to Antarctica.
The first half of the first voyage is done. 
He is now on his way back to Argentina.  

© Tony Beck

"The weather has been perfect, and the wildlife plenty.
The warm late-evening light is beautiful. Especially when mixed with the
calm water, rugged mountains and blue ice.

© Tony Beck

We walked through a Gentoo colony this morning, and then sailed our
ice-breaker through some of the most spectacular scenery in the world!

Gentoo Family © Tony Beck

© Tony Beck

Days later:
The weather has changed. It's colder, and heavy overcast.
Still lots of ice and lots of penguins.
We came very close to Antarctic Fur Seal, and Leopard Seals.
They were BIG!

Antarctic Fur Seal © Tony Beck

 Leopard Seal © Tony Beck

We are on our last day in Antarctica today, before we return to South America via the Drake Passage.

Sunset, Moonrise - Giant Petrel - Drake Passage © Tony Beck
Yesterday was spectacular.
We went through some wonderful ice and saw much wildlife.
We watched Humpback Whales doing "bubble feeding".
The weather is cold, with blowing snow.
Sometimes it is difficult to capture photos.
Although it's harsh, it's still excellent, and beautiful."

© Tony Beck

Stay tuned...

Thursday, January 20, 2011

A Journey to the Coldest Place on Earth...

Gentoo Penguins © Tony Beck

Tony is travelling back to Antarctica, his second trip to the icy cold destination.
And, with no doubt, he’s having the time of his life!
His travels and journeys are SO exciting!! 
Therefore, I decided to BLOG his journey to the The Coldest Place On Earth
At least parts of it, as often as I am lucky to receive messages from him to give news…
All text edited by me.

Tony Beck on the ship Jan 2010. © Tsuyu Ohara

"Well... here I am on the ocean in the middle of nowhere, and loving it.
The ship is rolling, and it's difficult to stand sometimes.
However, I've gotten a couple of good photos of albatross, and two lifer birds
- A Common Diving-Petrel and the Light-mantled Sooty Albatross!!
The Albatross was my MOST wanted bird! But, no photos (yet).
I've been getting some good photos of other seabirds and the seabirds are really awesome!
Pintado Petrels are the most amazing creatures.

Pintado Petrel © Tony Beck

Day 5:  The patterns and colors of the ice is unbelievable!!!
The water is calm, and we have some excellent reflections.
Our ship is an ice-breaker, so we are able to get deep into icy waters.
But, it is very cold!

© Tony Beck

Not a lot of wildlife yet.
We've seen a few penguins and seals, and a lot of Wilson's Storm-Petrels!

Wilson's Storm-Petrel © Nina Stavlund

My favorite is the immaculate white Snow Petrel.
I watched one fly out of a nest from close range.
What an awesome sight. I want to photograph them!

© Tony Beck

Day 6: Today was another beautiful day with a million ice forms.
Not much wildlife. But, the ice is a photographers dream.
The water is like a mirror.
And, when the sun is low, the ice is pink.
Then, when the sun comes up, there are all types of patterns mixed with
blue. The scenery from the ship is gorgeous!
Not many Storm Petrels left. But, I still see a few Snow Petrels.
But, the most amazing thing today was to have an Adelie Penguin jump right
onto our zodiac!
It was the most awesome experience EVER!"

Adelie Penguin © Tony Beck

Zodiac © Tony Beck

Gentoo Penguins © Tony Beck

Stay tuned ! :o)

Monday, January 10, 2011

I lost my heart in the Owl Woods...

Boreal Owl (Aegolius funereus)
I am a nature lover. Born and raised on a farm in Norway, countryside and wilderness has always been an important part of my life.
I was a girl-scout for years, where I learned how important nature is and what it does for us - where oxygen comes from, why some animals must kill others, the importance of insects...
Of all the environments in the world, the woods have always been closest to my heart.
Although I spent most of my childhood in the forest, I never saw an owl.
As birding became a passion, I really wanted to see them in their natural habitat.
But, it took many years and another continent before I finally saw one.

The very first owls I saw in the wild were in Saskatchewan, Canada, in November 2010.
It was a Great-horned Owl, of the subspecies; Subarticus.

 Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus) - Subarticus

The next one I saw was a Short-eared Owl.
When I came back to Ottawa, Ontario, I participated in the Christmas Bird count where I was lucky enough to see yet another Great-horned Owl and a Barred Owl.
My husband Tony and I went looking for owls many times after that, and we came across a Northern Hawk Owl on our search, but not much more.

And then on a Tuesday morning, at the beginning of January, Tony found a Saw-what Owl in the forest of Gatineau Park, Quebec.
The owl was not so easy to see, tucked away deep inside the branches. But, I instantly developed strong feelings for the species.
Most people have a 'thing' for owls, and I am now one of them. What is it that makes us so fascinated by them?
This will be the subject of a near future BLOG entry.   

We arrived on Amherst Island early Saturday morning and it started off with 3 Snowy Owls before we entered the owl woods.
When we entered the woods we were all excited.
Thanks to the directions from other observers we had no problem locating the owls.
And shortly after entering the woods, the first of two Boreal Owl was sitting there looking at us, half asleep. We later saw 3 Saw-whet Owls. We also had about 10 Long-eared Owls.

Long-eared Owl (Asio otus)

The second Saw-whet was an incredibly beautiful little predator. It was just sitting there looking around, wide awake.
We could have reached out and touched it if we wanted to, but of course we didn't do that.
To witness no fear from a little creature like that, melted my heart totally. Of course it helps with those huge clear eyes, that beams of wisdom and mystery.
I now have a new favorite bird - the Northern Saw-whet Owl.

 Northern Saw-whet Owl (Aegolius acadicus)

In addition to the fantastic experience of being so close to the owls, the abundant number of Rough-legged and Red-tailed hawks were amazing.
They were literally everywhere, two and sometimes three of them flying and playing together up in the sky.
We had a total of 57 species on this trip, and most of the birds were spotted on the island.
Some of the highlights are: Harlequin Duck, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Red-wing Blackbird, Bald Eagle, Common Raven, Mute and Tundra Swan, Northern Harrier, Northern Shrike, American Kestrel, White-throated Sparrow and a beautiful male American Goldfinch in full breading plumage (extremely unusual for January).
It was quite exhilarating to witness all this as some of these species were rare or unusual especially for January in southern Ontario.

The weekend was unforgettable, and will be an important addition to me as a birder and photographer.
For me, Amherst Island will always be a magical place, where many unexpected things are possible, and where a deeper connection with mother Earth is present in the many forms of her children.
Seabirds used to be my number one favorite. This position is now in jeopardy with my new-found admiration with Owls, raptors and other predators. 

Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)

Amherst Island, is a most magical place.
Unfortunately the tranquility has been dramatically altered for the many owls that overwinter there by us humans visiting the island.
They have closed off a small portion to give the birds a possible sanctuary.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

First birding adventure of the year!

Today was a fantastic start to this year's outdoor activities, and also a confirmation that Tony Beck's company logo "Always an Adventure", is totally correct!

The first birding excursion this year was carried out in Gatineau Park, Quebec, Canada.
Our first bird of the morning was a Northern Saw-whet Owl. A lifer for me and a most beautiful bird!
We were walking along a trail and suddenly a bunch of angry chickadees caught our attention. Tony knew exactly where to go and what to look for.

Northern Saw-whet Owl

From the trail we moved on, driving along the Gatineau Escarpment , stopping, walking, looking and listening. The weather was working against us as heavy snowfall increased during the late morning.
But, we were so pumped-up after the awesome Saw-whet owl that nothing could stop us.

Today's Group

I really wish I had a picture of the next event, but alas, the camera was left back in the car...
We spotted a beautiful adult Bald Eagle and jumped out of our cars to put the scope on it. We also noticed an adult Red-Tailed Hawk and 2 coyotes nearby.
One coyote disappeared from sight, but the second one was still visible. The scene that followed was like something out of a National Geographic Special.
The Bald Eagle took off from its branch and started to mob the poor coyote. It was unclear as to the purpose of the Eagle's aggression. Perhaps it was hungry or just territorial. But, the Eagle's last dive, resulted in the coyote's leap high into the air towards the Eagle. For just a fraction of a second, they were both dancing above the ground, one hunting the other, the other protecting itself with this powerful move. We were all in awe!
What a fantastic and most amazing thing to witness.
The poor coyote looked quite scared when leaving the area. The Eagle was still chasing it a bit until it gave up and returned to its perch.
We were all standing there with jaw-drops, and an extremely hard grip on our binoculars.

Later on along with 3 more Bald Eagles, we had an adult Golden Eagle that flew off almost as quickly as we spotted it. And, just to make a perfect day complete, we ended the whole excursion with a Northern Hawk Owl!
A birding day with 4 highlights. Could the year start any better...?

Northern Hawk Owl 
The day list for the first Birding Excursion with Tony Beck 2011 looks like this:

Northern Saw-whet Owl - 1
Red-Tailed Hawk (adult) - 2
Bald Eagle (adults) - 4
Golden Eagle (adult) - 1
Northern Hawk Owl - 1
Common Raven - 8
Rock Pigeon - 25
European Starling - 75
Black-capped Chickadee - 45
American Goldfinch - 4
House Sparrow - 44
Blue Jay - 57
Northern Cardinal - 1
American Crow - 23
Dark-eyed Junco - 2
Red-breasted Nuthatch - 3
White-breasted Nuthatch - 2
Wild Turkey - 12
Common Goldeneye - 17

White tailed deer - 7
Coyote - 2
Red Squirrel - 3
Gray Squirrel - A lot!

White-breasted Nuthatch

"Always an Adventure! "

Monday, January 3, 2011

Happy New Year ! !

The year of 2010 has ended and left us. What an amazing year it was!
At least for me personally...

First half of 2010 was extremely busy for me. I had two major things on my daily agenda.

Evening school at Bilder Nordic School of Photography

Much hard work and assignments took all my spare time, it was good to finally pass the exams and look back at the time spent on learning digital photography.

The second important thing on my daily agenda was my 10 month contract, full time day job at WWF International Arctic Programme based in Oslo, Norway.

From left to right: Patrick Lewis, Clive Tésar, Martin Sommerkorn, Lena Eskeland, Me, Sylvie Leveau, Jeff Musk, Geoff York, Susan Evans & Gary Miller.
A most wonderful team to work with and to get to know. I admire all these people and what they do for our planet. Keep up the awesome work you guy's, where ever you are and doing right now!

Then, 1st July, I left Norway, traveling to Canada to be with my boyfriend, Tony Beck
Our relationship developed strong and quick and we made the biggest commitment to each other on the 24th December 2010. Talk about the best Christmas present of the century...

Photo credit: Bob Watt

We were married on the Jack Pine Trail, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
More from the wedding in my friend Bill Bowman's: BLOG

More pictures at my Facebook Album

Thank you 2010, for everything you gave me (which in my opinion is a lot!).
Welcome 2011! I am impatient to continue this journey, that started in 2010, and carried me into 2011, and will take me much further as the days progresses.
I definitely think I'm having the best time of my life. At least it does feel like I'm on the right track, finally ! :o)