As I sort through 11,867* recent photographs from Abaco and dump the 99% of them that fall into any of the ‘epic fail’, ‘hopeless’, ‘what on earth?’, ‘why on earth’?, ‘sun-flared’, ‘pitch black’, and ‘bird-butt’ categories, a few are making it through the rigorous editorial process. There will be birds, fish, whales, dolphins, expeditions and scenery in due course, but I’m kicking off with a small bird that is a great favourite, the Blue-gray Gnatcatcher Polioptila caerulea. This is because it is probably the easiest bird to pish, click, whistle or otherwise vocalise from the back of the coppice to the front. Then it gets flirty with the camera, performs cutely, and follows you down the track. The perfect subject except for one thing: they are small and branches / twigs are numerous. So, many shots consist of a magnificently focussed stick or leaf, with a blue-gray blur behind it…
There’s a moment when certain photos suddenly look as if they are paintings. This may be especially true of skyscapes or seascapes – or both together. Here are some recent daybreak views from Abaco which could as easily have been painted from a bright palette. And in case you think the effects have been produced or enhanced by some photoshop-style jiggery-pokery, all these images are exactly as I downloaded them, and no ‘special effect’ settings were used to take them. I just pointed and shot… J.M.W.Turner, what could you have done with a Pentax?
I have posted about Gray Angelfish before, illustrated with some of Melinda’s wonderful undersea photographs. I’m putting up some more of Melinda’s photos of Gray Angelfish drifting around their coral reef habitat. These photos are particularly interesting in demonstrating the diversity and health of the reefs of the Northern Bahamas. At a time when coral decline is obvious in many places, these bright images show how things should be.
In 2013 Princeton University published a well-received – indeed award-winning – guide to North American warblers. Its relevance to the Northern Bahamas is that all 37 species of warbler recorded for Abaco are found on its pages. Plus, you can use it in North America as a bonus! Details of the book are given below.
As a follow-up project, Princeton has now produced a Warbler Guide App that looks quite impressive at a glance. It’s not cheap, at £9.99 or dollar equivalent, but with bird apps you generally get what you pay for. Included are song/call IDs for a start, which takes the App a long way beyond mere visual recognition. And the illustrations are from several angles, taking account of the fact that you may not get an ideal broadside view of a bird in the field. Below are a few sample images.
The Warbler Guide revolutionizes birdwatching, making warbler identification easier than ever before. For more information, please see the author videos on the Princeton University Press website.
Covers all 56 species of warblers in the United States and Canada
Visual quick finders help you identify warblers from any angle
Song and call finders make identification easy using a few simple questions
Uses sonograms to teach a new system of song identification that makes it easier to understand and hear differences between similar species
Detailed species accounts show multiple views with diagnostic points, direct comparisons of plumage and vocalizations with similar species, and complete aging and sexing descriptions
New aids to identification include song mnemonics and icons for undertail pattern, color impression, habitat, and behavior
Includes field exercises, flight shots, general identification strategies, and quizzes
A complete, page-by-page audio companion to all of the 1,000-plus songs and calls covered by the book is available for purchase and download from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Macaulay Library by using the link at http://www.TheWarblerGuide.com
Winner of a 2014 National Outdoor Book Award in Nature Guidebooks
Second Place for the 2013 BB/BTO Best Bird Book of the Year, British Birds and the British Trust for Ornithology
Honorable Mention for the 2013 PROSE Award in Single Volume Reference/Science, Association of American Publishers
I’ve posted about the octopus a couple of times before. The first time was to explore the correct plural of the word ‘and related cephalopod mysteries’. You can see that HERE. More recently there was ‘Marine Bagpipes filled with Ink’, which you can see HERE. Both posts were really a way to show some of Melinda Riger’s stunning underwater photography, with an octopoidal theme. Now I have some more images for you, so I present some new photos of Octopi… erm, Octopodes… erm, Octopuses…
This octopus is having a sleep, disguised as a rock
Credits: All images courtesy of Melinda Riger of Grand Bahama Scuba
ABACO’S OWN ‘AERO-DRONE': GREAT AERIAL SHOTS BY ‘MR REES’
David Rees is well known for his excellent photography, not least because of his early adoption of a drone – a serious bit of kit, not a toy ‘copter + camera – for capturing some wonderful aerial views of Abaco. Photos from the air can give so much more information about the setting of a particular location, and a drone can achieve a proximity and reveal details that an aeroplane shot cannot. I have seen some of David’s photographs in an exhibition at BPS, where they had been enlarged to make stunningly effective prints. David was kind enough to agree to my request to showcase a few of his photos, so I’ll let them do the talking…
HOPE TOWN / ELBOW CAY
The Long Dock, Cherokee – the longest wooden dock in the entire Bahamas
Voted one of the 10 loveliest beaches in the Caribbean by the National Geographic, no less
GREEN TURTLE CAY
All photos by David Rees, assisted by his amazing drone, with many thanks for use permission