Saturday, December 27, 2014

2014 Photographic Year in Review

2014 Photographic Year in Review

These are the twelve images that summarize my photographic moments of 2014. Often these images are not my "best" (whatever that means) - but help tell the tale of where I was, and what was happening.
Check out past years here: 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009

I'm sure many remember - it was freakin cold to start 2013! I spent some time watching Snowy Owls and photographing Long-tailed Ducks to celebrate the event. 

My first travel of the year was much like the end of 2012 - work related! I spent another two weeks doing near-shore marine bird surveys in British Columbia. It was an event that I won't soon (if ever) forget. Photo-wise, I was delighted to get a decent photo of these two Yellow-billed Loons. 

Back home, I find the birding never really gets going until the neotropic migrants arrive. I had some decent vulture and waterfowl migration earlier, but really - Pelee is the time to shine. I was there early in 2014, but things were somewhat slow for the early part... This photo sums up the first half quite well - Acadian Flycatchers! I photographed this Acadian in early May, after record-numbers arrived in late April. 

As May wore on, the birds arrived as they always do. I enjoyed a spectacular stretch of rarities from 11-14 May, yet this Wilson's Warbler seemed to do a better job of summing up the spring migration. I know I'm being a bit picky, as the May birding at Pelee is likely some of the very best in the world, but overall it was not one of my better years; as I never really felt settled. 

For 6 years now, Pelee ends and work begins... "Breeding Bird Season" keeps me busy - although 2014 was my lightest schedule in years. I punctuated the finale in July with my first ever trip to the Canadian Prairies in SE Saskatchewan! This American Avocet (at dusk) was one of many exciting species to help keep my work interesting. 

Not only was I granted a visit to the Prairies, but I also had time for photography! Often with work, the schedules are hectic and spare time is limited. My goal was actually to survey for the globally imperilled Dakota Skipper (butterfly)! A species threatened with global extinction due to it's preference for undisturbed virgin Prairie habitats. This meant we got to visit some truly spectacular sites, while saving time in the mornings/evenings to photograph birds (as they usually are only out during the middle of the day!) This Western Kingbird was feeding young at a roadside nest.

There is no rest for the wicked. Within 24 hours of returning home from Saskatchewan, I was off on the grandest adventure of my year. I had been waiting for this one for many months, as I was invited to visit Torngat Mountains National Park in northern Labrador! Not much I can say about it... It is surely one of the most spectacular places on earth... I was also extremely lucky to apply my skills as a photographer for the duration of my visit - and this male Harlequin Duck obliged. 

Yes, this is a Polar Bear. A handful of photographs can't really do an entire year justice! I still have thousands of photographs from this trip alone, waiting to be edited and shared online. In the back of my mind lies a new idea for photo sharing, which I truly hope to make a reality at some point in 2015. Time is always lacking... 

After spending nearly all of May, June and July away from home, I was desperate to get back to my beautiful ladyfriend and spend some time in my Condo. I can hardly disagree when I think that thirst for adventure has been getting weaker as each year passes, but it also opens up new doors for amazing new things to happen! Melissa and I spent a long evening on my balcony watching thunderstorms out over Lake Ontario when I was able to capture this particularly strong bolt of lightning. It was magical. 

Each year I look back on the delights of fall migration and realize that it is not my best time of year for photography. This juvenile Peregrine was taken at the tip of Point Pelee in late September as it rocketed out over Lake Erie. I was lucky to do a few trips down to extreme southern Canada this fall, and spent many an hour watching from my condo as the birds left our province!

It was on one of these Pelee trips that we encountered this spectacular insect - a hot pink Katydid! I had heard of such creatures, but had never seen one with my own eyes. It had been present around the visitor's centre for some time, and when we heard that it had been relocated - we went full-on twitch-mode to see it. There was some funny conversation as I photographed this bug with my 600mm lens, but it was all worth it. A true "natural history" highlight of my year. 

The sun is setting on 2014! (I couldn't resist)... I photographed this partial solar eclipse at sundown late this fall - my first experience photographing such an event. The dark smudges near the centre of the sun was also sunspot AR2192 - the largest in near 20 years.

I have a lot to look forward to in the new year - and I hope you do as well! Wishing you all the best in 2015.