Barrow – North Slope, Alaska, part2

Here the second series of images from the trip to Alaska, which I have previously made this year in June. Just three months ago, when the winter had just lifted her heels. And now winter is almost upon us with temperatures that are just above zero, the realization emerges from the particular circumstances of what the locals call their ‘home’ ‘. In the local museum, which depicts ancient culture, one can admire the resourcefulness that the Inuit have developed to survive with relatively simple toos in such a harsh climate. One may wonder what one pervading inspired to live there. In our present luxury living, who can imagine a live like that?.
In photography, there is much to experience, even though the time available is very short. The birds were the main purpose of the trip. The expectation in such an area is often that each species is tame, but do to hunting, waterfowl especially is quite shy. Here the necessary time should be inserted and often a lot of persistence brings in results. In particular, the advantage of circumstances, raises the chances. At a possible future trip to this destination, I will change a few things.
Because of the necessary internet work i managed to stick all names on the plants / flowers photographed. Often these specific subspecies found only in narrow Arctic strips. Adapted to the same harsh conditions.
At the time of our trip, the day and night rhythm was overturned. The light conditions during the evening and night are better and also it is quieter with other traffic and nature lovers. Because Barrow is located pretty far south, mid-day sunlight is not pretty. Characteristic of arctic area in the spring is the frequent occurrence of clouds and fog. Often this results in gloomy weather and where it often rains. A stay for extended periods in an environment like this would be the best, but that remains most likely a daydream. But there should be left something to be desired.

Barrow – North Slope, Alaska, part1

Barrow, the northernmost point of the United States. A destination that had long been on my wish list, and especially because of its location in the Arctic. With a winter that lasts eight months, it is one of the areas where the soil is permanently frozen, the so-called ”Permafrost zone”. Typical of an arctic environment is that winter is followed by a hectic spring in which there is no room for ” life ” to take a moment to relax. The plants and animals rush to populate the tundra and to ensure that this abundant time is maximized to provide for offspring. When temperatures are rising, the first green blades do prick through the snow. And for the birds it means hard work.. They must occupied a territory in a few days time, followed by courtship, nesting and mating. The hatching of the eggs begins immediately. The eggs, although slightly more resistant to low temperatures, must stay warm in order to avoid a failed clutch. Summer is too short to undertake a second breeding attempt, while there is always the danger of hungry predators like Arctic Fox and Skua’s.
The surrounding area of Barrow consists only of flat tundra and is mainly inhabited by the indigenous population, the Unuit. But the name ”Eskimo” is also used by themselves. Remarkably, as in other arctic areas this name is considered an insult, meaning ‘raw meat eaters.
The site Barrow has a population of 5,000 people, including many foreigners. Naturally, because this kind of settlements always attract people who want to train a different life. From the old culture, not many is noticable at first sight. The ancient traditions are mainly reflected during the hunt. The Inuit population is allowed to hunt for their own food on wildlife, including bowhead whale. They also hunt seal, walrus and several species of birds. What is striking is the openness of the people when the subject Whaling is mentioned. The spear has been replaced by a metal pin with a warhead to avoid suffering of the animals. Only trained and designated snipers may operate the weapon and the rules must be applied tightly. All this out of respect for the whales.
The main purpose of this trip was photographing the bird species that inhabit the tundra. The endangered Spectacled Eider is one of the major attractions, but also species such as Pomarine Skua and Snowy Owl can be found. To see the latter species in large numbers requires a good Lemming year, but that was not the case. Because of hunting pressure especially duck species were very shy and perseverance was required to keep good footage at the end. And to illustrate the short spring, in a week the situation of ‘birds everywhere and many puddles” turns into a sometimes abandoned green plain. Any luck with planning is definitely needed. The sunny weather was doubtless remarkable and only during the first and last days we saw the typical arctic weather like fog, rain and heavy clouded skies. In order to maximize our benefit from improved lighting situations, we have reversed the day and night rhythm. Coming home in a great condition was not the case , but it was already taken into account in advance. All in all, my Jetlag was not to heavy.

With this I want to thank both my companions for the success of this particular trip.

Stellers eider




Dutch colourfull mix

It has been a long time since a new gallery wash added to this site. This is largely due to the fact that I have been more concerned with issues other than photography. The house has been painted partly, there is a new wallpaper on the wall and our plans for new furniture become realized. All pleasures, but now spring is approaching, it starts to itch. It is also the period when travel plans are forged and I have booked a nice trip to the Arctic. During this trip, attention will turn for a large extent to the birds. That was long ago, and I look forward to it with great pleasure.
The now placed series is a collection of separate images taken in the past year. And it is actually still become very colorful. The beautiful red of the Sacroscypha austriaca mushroom, the beautiful caterpillars off the  Cucullia chamomillae Butterfly and the fresh green that a Vole used to construct a network  off passages. I did not have to go far for the latter series, because it was just situated before the entrance to our campsite on a camping in Drenthe. A location where at first sight there was not much to do, but looking around always pays off. One of those pictures is otherwise used in a Dutch postage stamp. And a use like that was the last thing I had in mind when creating the series. Nice surprise then.
Finally, the caterpillar of the Phlogophora meticulosa moth. It took me months to determine until I suddenly got a very bright moment. Sometimes you get stuck in the search for a name, especially if it concerns a group where you do not count yourself to be a ” expert ”. Have fun watching.

Blonde ruiter

Aosta gran paradiso N.P. Italy, series two


Our holiday to the Aosta Valley in Italy is already far behind us, almost two and a half months. I’am looking back with great pleasure and have already decided to definitely go back again. The large numbers of butterflies that occur in the area are of course the main reason. And it is quiet enough to find your ”own spot” where you can get to work without to be disturbed all the time.
The pleasant contact with the camping owners has lead to the fact that they like to use some of my images on their website and to promote the area. In return I’ll get a little promoting om their website. So the knive cuts at both ends and I have the opportunity to share my work. Something I like to do. The campsite ” Val di Rhemes ” is centrally located and all the interesting areas are within easy reach. Even for the necessary shopping, one doesn’t have to make a worldtrip. 
This series concerns the second and last part of what I have produced during our two weeks of stay. In part one you can read that not all was going very smoothly, but eventually, that leads to more satisfaction when returning home with nice results. So there is yet another challenge waiting for the nearby future.
I hope you enjoy and thanks for watching.


Valle d’Aosta, dragonfly emerging

During our stay in Val di Rhemes, Aosta in Italy (see previous newsitem) I discovered in a small pond at the campsite a few larvae of dragonfly species. The pond, barely twelve square meters was situated in the playground next to the campsite. It was the first and only indication that this group of insects is present in this valley. Because I regularly visited the playground with my daughter, it was also a great opportunity to keep an eye on the activities. To my delight, after one week and a half, the first emerging dragonflies showed up. However, most larvae in this process looked for a place out of reach of the camera. Eventually, the persistence was rewarded with a specimen that found a spot close to shore. The only downside was a large boulder that was in the way and so at the start it was not an ideal position to take photographs. 
The larva had already stopped the day before around the conscious stem, but crawled out of the water the day after. It was about six o’clock in the morning. Only the buds gave a sufficient basis to the further smooth plant stem. After finding the right spot for an hour nothing happened. Still it is important to stay alert, well as the various stages of the emerging are sometimes speed up unexpectedly. This includes the bursting of the skin and the head and part of the abdomen hanging outside. The other phase is when the image lifts it head upwards and pulls out the last part of the abdomen from the skin. Then inflate the wings, following stretching of the abdomen and the stage of the image excess moisture dissipates and starts to get colored. 
After eight hours, I stopped recording, partly because the skin with dragonfly came loose and slid down. The new situation hampered further for making good images. The entire process to fly has lasted at least ten hours. In my view, a very long time, and especially since the animal is very vulnerable then.
Finally, from all emerged dragonflies I found, at least thirty percent did not come to a good end. Cannibalism was the most notable cause. The stamp ‘predator’ was demonstrated here in conviction.
Many children saw their first dragonfly to be born in this pond. A wonderful experience.

Blauwe glazenmaker


Aosta gran paradiso N.P. Italy, series one

For the first time in many many years, we did not spend our family holiday in the Biebrza area in Poland. And if I’m honest, that was something to get used to. Instead, we traveled with a part of the family to the Aosta Valley in northwest Italy. This region holds the Aosta gran paradiso national park, a mountain area on the south side of the Alps. 
We arrived in Italy under rainy conditions and this weather pattern would continue in the first week and a half. The Netherlands had a warm first half of the year 2014, but Italy however, had to deal with a very cold summer. I personally had no objection against the low temperatures, but the rain was a bummer. On the third day after our arrival we made our first big hike. The mountain slopes were in full bloom and the number of butterflies exceeded all expectations. However, the camera stayed in the caravan because, … ……. ”family walk”.
Then after days of bad weather again an appropriate day presented itself, and I went on stage alone. Unfortunately it started with heavy low clouds and mid-morning the sun broke through. Both actually not ideal for shooting. All in all, this day yielded very little images.
It was also clear that the end of the season approached. All fields around the campsite were mowed and in the mountain pastures, the number of flowers dropped quickly. To make the most out it was important to utilize the early morning hours. Altogheter about two and a half hours with suitable conditions a day. I should mention that there are no motorways available in the mountains and walking is the only way to get somewhere. Not all muscles and tendons were otherwise sufficiently trained. A light bruised foot also resulted in forced observing the other campers for two days.
Despite the many butterflies it still takes a lot of time to find one in a setting that does not lead to a more or less standard image. But with so many butterflies around, spending time in the field is the only option to get the maximum result. I certainly hope to visit the area a second time.



Belarus part two

It took a while, but here is the second part of the pictures that were taken during my stay in Belarus, mid May. With this second series I have shown all photographic highlights of this trip. This series also presents a great variety of topics.
Because I already visited the Biebrza marshes and surrounding area in northeastern Poland for many times, it was almost natural to make a comparison between the two. One is tempted to think that there are a lot of similarities.
The wooden houses that are displayed in this series, are disappearing more and more in Poland. In Belarus, with the exception of the big cities, these houses are almost standard. The well is, especially in the smaller villages, still widely used. This indicates that there is a visible difference in living standards. Of course, Poland is focusing on western Europe for a long time already, and that will surely have it’s affect. 
Regarding nature, among other things related to the time of year, there were also a number of things that stood out. For instance the number of butterflies, as well as the variation in species, was considerably lower than I expected. This all despite a very mild winter followed by an unusually warm spring. On a large promising field, I only found a few Brown Coppers and one Common Blue. One reason may have been that the ” June-dip” in the presence of butterflies, already occurred in mid-May, due to this warm weather.  A phenomenon that we have seen in 2014 in the Netherlands to. Some photographed mushrooms I did not expected either, because the appearance of them seems to be temperature related in general. Nature in Belarus was also a month ahead of schedule. Striking was that on a large freshwater lake we hardly couldn’t find any waterfowl. It produced our only Grebe and booming Bittern for this trip.
But all in all, what is there to say after only an initial twelve day visit? The beautiful untouched nature has made ​​a big impression at least. Enjoy watching this second series.

Krasny Bor