From Snowy Owls to Bears, 2018 Was a Good Year for Wildlife Adventure

WE HAD SOME WILDLIFE SURPRISES IN 2018, LIKE THIS BLACK BEAR ASLEEP IN THE DOORWAY. IMAGE: WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHER ©SCOTT DERE

2018 was an eye-opening year for the Destination: Wildlife team. We spent a lot of time exploring the backroads and wild places in our own backyard, the United States. We re-discovered some great destinations and had some fantastic wildlife viewing opportunities. It was a timely itinerary as so many of our wild places, areas that have been protected for decades, are now coming under sudden pressure for habitat-destroying development.

ONE OF JOE GLIOZZO’S GORGEOUS ARCTIC ANGLES CAPTURED AT THE NEW JERSEY SHORE

An Irruption Year is a Snowy Owl Viewing and Photo Opportunity

For Snowy Owls 2018 was an irruption year and a banner year for fabulous snowy owl photography. Joe Gliozzo introduced us to his Arctic Angles on the Dunes at New Jersey’s beaches – and gave us a great lesson on capturing them with a camera. Scott Kruitbosch of the Roger Tory Peterson Institute shared How to Watch Snowy owls in the Wild and more great snowy owl photography.

PHOTOGRAPHING SNOWY OWLS CAN BE STRESSFUL - FOR THE BIRD AND THE PHOTOGRAPHER. SCOTT KRUITBOSCH OF THE ROGER TORY PERTERSON FOUNDATION SHARED SOME GOOD ADVICE ON HOW TO MAKE A LOT EASIER ON BOTH. IMAGE: SCOTT KRUITBOSCH AND THE ROGER TORY PERSON FOUNDATION.

We experienced some tragedy for snowy owls, too. Laurie LaFond, Director of the Friends of the Washington County grasslands explained the perils of loving these endangered birds too much in Are You Willing to Kill for a Better Snowy Owl Photo? . But she also brought us something to celebrate! Two endangered owls, first an endangered short-eared than later in the year a snowy owl , rescued, rehabilitated and released to fly free again.

WAS THE MAGIC THAT A BOY FOUND STILL IN THE SECRET PLACES IN FLORIDA’S NATURE COAST? ROBERT WALLACE WENT TO FIND OUT IN 2018. IMAGE: ©ROBERT WALLACE

For team member, Robert Wallace, the year began with a quest down memory lane. Would “secret” places on Florida’s Nature Coast, explored when he was a 10-year old child, still hold magic for the man? In January he ventured to A State Not So Far, Far Away communed with manatee and alligators floating down the Chassahowitzka and the Crystal Rivers, his progress carefully monitored by everything from bald eagles and blue heron to a black vulture. His journey continued at Rainbow Springs where nature has turned the remains of one-time theme park into a wonderland of waterfalls and natural springs. Yes, Robert found the magic is still there, even in the rain.

FINDING DOLPHINS UP THE RIVER WAS ONE OF THE MAGIC MOMENTS TEAM MEMBER ROBERT WALLACE SHARED WITH US THIS SPRING. IMAGE: ©ROBERT WALLACE

FINDING DOLPHINS UP THE RIVER WAS ONE OF THE MAGIC MOMENTS TEAM MEMBER ROBERT WALLACE SHARED WITH US THIS SPRING. IMAGE: ©ROBERT WALLACE

How to Get Great images of Black Bear in the Wild

2018 was a Bear-y Good Year (couldn’t resist, sorry) for Bear Encounters. And that meant a lot of incredible bear photography and safe viewing tips from our favorite wildlife photographers.

A BLACK BEAR MOTHER AND HER CUB POSED FOR SCOTT DERE AT MINNESOTA’S KABATOGAMA STATE PARK. IMAGE SCOTT DERE.

Good friend Scott Dere took us to Kabatogama State Park in Minnesota for a lesson on How to Photograph the Soul of the Forest, - black bear! Robert traveled to Tennessee where the black bear found him as he was looking for Manitoban elk in the Great Smokies National Park, Tennessee.

A black bear appeared again on our breathtaking drive with Jorn Vangoidtsenhoven, up through Arizona’s high country, In the Footsteps of the Conquistador through the last Designated Primitive Forest in the US Forestry Systems. There were also amazing Rocky Mountain big horned sheep.

Team member Joe Gliozzo shared the perfect solution for combining a family vacation with quality wildlife photography opportunities, on North Carolina’s Outer Banks. There he found black bear AND wild horses. But looking for bear is one thing – having them turn up expectedly is another. A very surprised Joe urged us to BUMP UP Your Explosure! What to Do When the Bird is a Bear just an hour from New York City at Stirling Forest !

Jim Fennessy gave us a double treat with both black bears and couple of playful grizzlies when he explored the Most Majestic Parks in America: Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks in Wyoming.

But I think the prize for the most unusual bear meeting goes to Amos Nachoum in, From Fear to Triumph, Swimming with Polar Bears. Amos went to the top of the world to photograph polar bears in open Arctic water. This is not an adventure for everyone, but his story of preparation and how he conquered his fear is one that we will never forget

WOULD YOU GET INTO THE OPEN OCEAN WITH WILD POLAR BEARS? THE TRICK IS … WELL READ THE STORY AND FIND OUT. IMAGE: © AMOS NACHOUM

We experienced some tragedy for snowy owls, too. Laurie LaFond, Director of the Friends of the Washington County grasslands explained the perils of loving these endangered birds too much in Are You Willing to Kill for a Better Snowy Owl Photo? . But she also brought us something to celebrate! Two endangered owls, first an endangered short-eared than later in the year a snowy owl , rescued, rehabilitated and released to fly free again.

Explore the Oceans! Time to Dispel the Myths that Cause us Fear!

The open ocean called us, and we met up with some of the world’s most endangered creatures. In How to Get Killer Photographs Amos Nachoum dispelled the myths that ,make us afraid of some of the most charismatic creatures on the planet - and shared his insights for photographing great white sharks and more.

WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHER, AMOS NACHOUM WANTS TO DISPEL THE MYTHS THAT MAKE US AFRIAD OF THE MOST CHARISMATIC ANIMALS ON THE PLANET. IMAGE THANKS TO BIGANIMALS.

In My Awesome Adventures with Grey Whales, Baja California Sur, Mexico a mother grey whale introduced her calf to our good friends Susan Sylvan and Toby Mailman, and in Saving Sea Turtles with SEE Turtles, Brad Nahill explained how citizen science and responsible tourism is giving hope to endangered sea turtles. (Soon you can experience it yourself. In a few weeks, we will be offering citizen science sea turtle tours!)

BRAD NAHILL TOLD US HOW ABOUT SEA TURTLE CITIZEN SCIENCE IS HELPING THESE ANCIENT CREATURES SURVIVE. IMAGE: ©WHITCOMBERD I DREAMSTIME.COM

One of my personal favorite yearly celebrations (and also a responsible tourism success story) is Whale Shark festival on Isla Mujeres, Mexico. We took a look at it and one of the small businesses that helped turn that island from a resource exploitation economy to an eco-tourism mecca.

After Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico Reborn

THE PUERTO RICAN SCREECH OWL IS ONE OF THE ENDANGERED ENDEMICS ON THE ISLAND OF PUERTO RICO. IMAGE: ©ALFREDO IREZZARY

It is no secret that climate change and other factors are wrecking-havoc with some of the most important wildlife habitats in the world. One year after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico we visited the island and the last tropical rainforest in the United States. What we found gave us new hope. Alfredo Irizarry shared his images of Puerto Rico’s endemic species in, Warning! You Can Only See These Birds in Puerto Rico. Some, like the Puerto Rican Amazon parrot have been driven to near-extinction, but the work and care of scientists and volunteers are helping them hold their ground.

And speaking of the ground, what better place is there than a re-born garden and tree to sleep in? We found the perfect Rescue for the City-Weary - A Treehouse in the Rainforest. Yuquiyù Garden and Treehouses. Puerto Rico is full of surprises.

Some Conservation Heroes Stand Out

This has been a year of enormous changes for the world and her creatures, some terrifying, some hopeful. The Climate Report, released in October, is appalling, especially in the light of hold-out climate science deniers at high government levels.

THE RANGERS OF VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK ARE SOME OF THE BRAVE HEROES FIGHTING TO SAVE ENDANGERED SPECIES LIKE THIS MOUNTAIN GORILLA. IMAGE; VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO.

On the wildlife conservation front, another report alarming rates of decreasing wildlife populations decreasing and increasing extinctions. Japan announced plans to begin hunting whales again. And officials in In Brazil announced that deforestation hit a 10-year high. But there are some people and organizations who are fighting tp beat the odds Recently, we highlighted Four Wildlife Life Saving Organizations That You Should Know About.

THE PAMS FOUNDATION, WITH HEADQUARTERS IN TANZANIA, IS ON THE FRONT LINES OF THE ANTI-POACHING FIGHT TO SAVE ELEPHANTS. IMAGE: ©PAMS FOUNDATION

Still, there are some bright spots, India is on target to meet their proposed 40% drop in fossil fuel use, the UK is taking a leading role as the world’s only industrialized nation with a commission to track its meeting of Paris commitments. Morocco and Gambia both have solid plans for meeting commitments and are following them. The Paris Climate Accord is not dead, and only one country, the United States, has decided to pull-out.

New technologies and government cooperation are putting small dents in wildlife trafficking. Just weeks ago ivory trafficking was given a good kick through the combined efforts of Cambodia customs agents, the US Embassy, and Wildlife Alliance (a non-profit wildlife conservation organization working mostly in southeast Asia.) Developments in Agroforestry in places as diverse as Kyrgyzstan, Papua New Guinea, and Ethiopia, and more is simultaneously helping humans, habitat, and wildlife to a more sustainable future.

THE MARINE MEGAFAUNA FOUNDATION TAGS WHALE SHARKS IN AN EFFORT TO LEARN THEIR HABITS AND PROTECT THEM. IMAGE: MARINE MEGAFAUNA FOUNDATION

And happily, the responsible wildlife and nature tourism industry is growing across the globe creating a solid economic reason to protect nature and providing a good life and promising future for people on all corners of our plant. Done right, our vacations are one life-line for Earth - we are all part of that good news.

We are thrilled to announce that after many delays, (hair pulling and sleepless night on our side of the screen) in the next few weeks you will begin to find tours from warblers to wolves in time for your 2019 holiday right here at Destination: Wildlife!

THERE ARE SO MANY INCREDIBLY BEAUTIFUL PLACES TO VISIT, THS WAS TAKEN IN THE GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARK BY WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHER ©JIM FENNESSY

Viewing big cats in the wild is part of our itinerary. From jaguars in Brazil to cougars in Chili, and the biggest cat of all: lions! We will be diving again too. Whales and sharks and mantas are all under renewed threat – let’s go see them now! There will be birds aplenty: the raptors, of course, bald eagles, peregrines, and snowy owls among them, our annual spring warbler migration jaunt begins in May (we still have a couple of places open), and we may surprise you with some nesting seabird viewing/photo opportunities, too.

We are so excited to have you with us on this journey! Let’s get traveling.

JAGUAR IS ONE OF THE BIG CATS WE WILL BE EXPLORING WITH YOU IN 2019. IMAGE THANKS TO ©ARCAMA MUNDI EXPEDITIONS.

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