I had the chance to visit the Alaska Raptor Center in Sitka, Alaska on a cruise excursion tour. The center’s mission is to heal, rehabilitate and then release the bald eagles and other raptors that come to the facility. Those birds that are too injured to survive in the wild remain at the center and become part of their educational program.
A cruise with one of the major cruise lines is certainly the easiest and most economical way to see Glacier Bay National Park in southeast Alaska. But when looking at the glaciers from the top of a huge ship it can be difficult to get a sense of size without something else nearby for perspective. In this case, a kayaker and his very well behaved dog provide the much needed scale to be able to get the true sense for how tall the Margerie Glacier really is.
During my stay in central Alaska this summer, I saw fireweed blooming everywhere. It is a colorful pink perennial which easily grows in sunny spots along the roads and the shores of lakes and rivers. It is one of the first species to come up after a fire, which is how it got its name. Supposedly it is also a harbinger of winter. I was told that the flower blooms from the bottom up and when the blooms at the top are done, winter will arrive in six weeks. I clearly caught it in mid bloom and mid summer.
Please note that my visit to Fairbanks was hosted by Explore Fairbanks. All content is my own.
Despite having lived in Chicago for many years, it is only as a recent visitor back to the state that I discovered the wooded beauty of the Shawnee National Forest and the Garden of the Gods Illinois. Who knew there was so much scenic wilderness in a state known for growing corn?
It’s four in the morning and I am sitting in a blind at a waterhole in the midst of Kenya’s famous Maasai Mara ecosystem. The visible sky beyond the blind is covered in so many stars that I finally have a sense for how big a million-billion really is.
On the ground though, my visibility is limited to just a few feet in the absolute darkness beyond the confines of the branches and sticks that make up this makeshift enclosure that surrounds me. In the pitch blackness, I can’t detect the animals I am here to observe without the aid of night vision binoculars, but the cacophony of sounds leaves no doubt that I am completely surrounded by life. A loud orchestra of frogs, toads and insects serenades me so that I can easily stay awake during my shift. An occasional bark from a hyena or grunt from a hippo reminds me that larger four legged creatures also prowl the night. The local leopard though is nowhere to be seen or heard tonight.
This post was recognized by the North America Travel Journalists Association (NATJA) in the 2019 awards competition with a Bronze award in the Featured Photo, Illustration– Online category.
I love Kenya. I love the elephants and the giraffes and the zebra and the rhinos and all the myriad wildlife that is so unique to this part of the planet. For me, nothing beats the exhilaration of seeing a baby elephant trying to figure out how to use its trunk or watching the graceful slow motion ballet of a running giraffe. A recent day on a Masai Mara safari gave me the chance to experience all of this and much, much more.
I’ve always wondered – are zebras white with black stripes or black with white stripes? Zebras often stand together nose to tail like this so that they have a full 360 degree view for potential predators.
Please note that my visit to Kenya was hosted by Biosphere Expeditions. All content is my own.
Kenya’s biggest tourism draw is the diversity of its wonderful animal wildlife. On my recent volunteer citizen science trip with Biosphere Expeditions, I spent twelve days working at the Enonkishu Conservancy in the Mara area of Kenya, helping to collect data about the biodiversity in this new conservancy land (you can read my detailed post about my experience here). Looking at the abundance of green grass and the many species of ungulates that were taking advantage of it, it was hard to believe that only a few years ago this land was barren and overgrazed by cattle. I am sharing some of my favorite photos that I was privileged to take to inspire you to visit the Enonkishu Conservancy.