Not all newsletters can be Antarctica… (though, I could have done like five more).

In this newsletter, I share photos much closer to home. As anyone who has followed this newsletter over the years will know, Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge in the northeast of Denver is a regular photography location for me. On a recent visit, I had planned to photograph the bison in the snow, but instead ended up focusing on the birds. Two Northern Harrier Hawks were actively hunting and provided plenty of photo opportunities on this rather gray day. Both were juveniles (maybe females) based on their color and unfortunately, for the birds and myself, I never saw them successfully capture prey during my short time with them.

All photos from February 2024.

A hark takes flight.
Sunset from the Gran Torre Costanera

Sunset from the Gran Torre Costanera

The Gran Torre Costanera, located in Santiago, Chile, is the tallest building in South America at 980 feet and 64 stories. It houses Latin America’s largest shopping mall, two hotels, and offices. It was completed in 2013.

In 2015, floors 61 & 62 were open to the public under the name Sky Costanera, with the latter floor being open-air from the top. The photos below were taken from these floors at sunset in November as I spent a couple of days in Santiago on my way home from Antarctica.

The weather was great, the light beautiful, and the views extensive. But perhaps more remarkably was how calm everyone was. There is something about sunsets, even more than sunrise, I’d argue, that can just chill people out and focus them in the moment (ok, some people were probably posting on Instagram or something, but the majority were soaking in the view).

The Ocean Endeavour

The Ocean Endeavour

This is the fourth post on Antarctica. Prior posts focused on the landscapes and wildlife of Antarctica, plus Deception Island.

The Ocen Endeavour is an expedition-class ship that bounces between the poles depending on season (i.e. summer in each). It operates under long-term contracts with different tour operators (I went with Intrepid Travel).

Built originally in 1981 in Poland and has been refitted (and renamed) several times before becoming the Ocen Endeavour in 2014. It holds roughly 200 passengers (a common limit for Antarctic vessels) plus boat crew and expedition staff.

The Ocean Endeavour as seen from our zodiac boat.
Deception Island

Deception Island

This is the third post on Antarctica. Prior posts focused on the landscapes and wildlife of Antarctica.

Deception Island, in the South Shetland Islands, was the first official stop we made after crossing the Drake Passage en route to the Antarctic Peninsula. It’s a relatively safe harbor, being surrounded on most sides because… it’s an active volcano. The entrance into the caldera passes through a narrow gap called Neptune’s Bellows with a submerged rock, Raven’s Rock, guarding the entrance (it makes you wonder how many boats have hit that in the past – luckily not our own).

That volcanic activity eventually led to it being abandoned. It started as a whaling station in the early 1900s, but when the price of whale oil collapsed in the 1930s it was abandoned. Various research stations have occupied the island, though the last two permanent stations left in the 1960s after two different periods of volcanic activity.

Today, there are still researchers during the summer with seismic activity constantly monitored. More so, the main visitors today are us tourists.

Neptune’s Bellows, the entrance to Deception Island (from inside the caldera).
Antarctica Wildlife

Antarctica Wildlife

In the last post, I shared my favorite landscape captures from my Antarctica trip. This week, I’m sharing my favorite wildlife photos. 

Spring in Antarctica is an incredible time. Not only is everything still pristine from the winter snow and ice, but it’s when the whole food web springs to life. As the ice recedes, light can reach the plankton. As the plankton grows, it supports the many animals reliant on it for food, including krill. The large quantity of krill is what supports much sea life, including whales*. The increased food supply is what also supports the extra food needs for nesting and young offspring.

We were fortunate to have seen many species of penguins, seals, and birds, plus a few whales. We saw penguins on two different shore landings and saw seals while cruising around in the zodiac boats. Birds were everywhere, from the Drake Passage to the harbours we sailed into.

Here are just a fraction of the photos that I took :).

* This is why whales often arrive later in the summer season, once their enough food to support them. We did see some whales, though it was too early in the season to see them in great numbers.

All photos from November 2023. Locations include Portal Point, Freud Passage, Danco Island, Neko Harbour, Orne Harbour, and the Southern Ocean.

This is one of my favorite seal images of the trip as you can see not only the seal in the broader landscape, but you can see the path they took out of the water to their resting spot.