Reviewing the 2014 Photographic Year

As is becoming tradition, I wanted to review the last year and see what goals I was able to accomplish from my bucket list. Last year was quite amazing as I traveled to six different countries to spend almost all of 2014 abroad. This provided many opportunities to have some very unique experiences.

I am including only the highlights from this year in this post (for the full list just click the link above). I am also only showing one or two images of each species/location, if you want to see all the pictures from that subject just click that name and the link will take you to the appropriate gallery.

Visit and or Explore
Tropical Rainforests (Adding to last years jungle adventures was a four week trip in June to Uganda)

Tropical rainforest in swamp, Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary, Magombe Swamp, western Uganda

Tropical rainforest in swamp, Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary, Magombe Swamp, western Uganda

Australia (2014)

Gum Tree (Eucalyptus sp) forest, Murramarang National Park, New South Wales, Australia

Gum Tree (Eucalyptus sp) forest, Murramarang National Park, New South Wales, Australia

Photograph

African Golden Cat (June 2014) – More on that later :)
Scottish Wildcat (September 2014) – More on that later :)

3 species of Civet (Completed this goal with getting a picture of an African Civet in June, 2014)

African Civet (Civettictis civetta) walking through rainforest at night, Kibale National Park, western Uganda

African Civet (Civettictis civetta) walking through rainforest at night, Kibale National Park, western Uganda

This year I added “All 3 Puffin Species” and I have one species of the three after photographing the Atlantic Puffins on Skomer Island:

Atlantic Puffin (Fratercula arctica) in breeding plumage, Skomer Island National Nature Reserve, Skomer Island, Pembrokeshire, Wales, United Kingdom

Atlantic Puffin (Fratercula arctica) in breeding plumage, Skomer Island National Nature Reserve, Skomer Island, Pembrokeshire, Wales, United Kingdom

1000 bird species in the wild (I am at 234, having added 44 species this year), just a few here:

Eurasian Coot (Fulica atra) carrying nesting material, Bay of Somme, Picardy, France

Eurasian Coot (Fulica atra) carrying nesting material, Bay of Somme, Picardy, France

Red Grouse (Lagopus scoticus) male, Scottish Highlands, Cairngorms National Park, Scotland, United Kingdom

Red Grouse (Lagopus scoticus) male, Scottish Highlands, Cairngorms National Park, Scotland, United Kingdom

Crowned Hornbill (Tockus alboterminatus) male, Kibale National Park, western Uganda

Crowned Hornbill (Tockus alboterminatus) male, Kibale National Park, western Uganda

Shoebill (Balaeniceps rex) landing with fish prey, Lake Albert, Toro-Semliki Wildlife Reserve, Western Rift Valley, Great Rift Valley, western Uganda

Shoebill (Balaeniceps rex) landing with fish prey, Lake Albert, Toro-Semliki Wildlife Reserve, Western Rift Valley, Great Rift Valley, western Uganda

Masked Lapwing (Vanellus miles), Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Masked Lapwing (Vanellus miles), Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Rainbow Lorikeet (Trichoglossus haematodus), Jervis Bay, New South Wales, Australia

Rainbow Lorikeet (Trichoglossus haematodus), Jervis Bay, New South Wales, Australia

300 mammal species in the wild (I am at 107, having added 10 species this year), just a few here:

L'hoest's Guenon (Cercopithecus lhoesti) in tree, Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary, Magombe Swamp, western Uganda

L’hoest’s Guenon (Cercopithecus lhoesti) in tree, Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary, Magombe Swamp, western Uganda

Red-tail Monkey (Cercopithecus ascanius) in tree, Kibale National Park, western Uganda

Red-tail Monkey (Cercopithecus ascanius) in tree, Kibale National Park, western Uganda

Eastern Grey Kangaroo (Macropus giganteus) female chewing grass at sunrise, Mount Taylor Nature Reserve, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia

Eastern Grey Kangaroo (Macropus giganteus) female chewing grass at sunrise, Mount Taylor Nature Reserve, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia

20 critically endangered and 50 endangered species (I am at 6 and 22 respectively)

Eastern Red Colobus (Procolobus rufomitratus) mother and young, Kibale National Park, western Uganda

Eastern Red Colobus (Procolobus rufomitratus) mother and young, Kibale National Park, western Uganda (endangered species)

Another great year, which always gives me enthusiasm for making next year even better!

How about you, anything particular that you photographed in 2014 that you are really happy/proud of?

Atlantic Puffins of Skomer Island

The largest breeding colony of Atlantic Puffins (Fratercula arctica) south of Scotland is on Skomer Island, on the western coast of Wales. Over 10,000 pairs breed in underground burrows here. Sometimes they burrow the holes they lay their eggs in themselves, sometimes they simply kick out the rabbit that was using it before (considering the size difference, that is an amazing feat). All of the burrows are close to the coastal cliffs. This means they can take flight easily if danger approaches (in the form of Peregrine Falcons) and there isn’t much time for gulls to steal the catch the puffins are bringing back to their chicks between landing and disappearing underground.

The Breeding Colony:

Atlantic Puffin (Fratercula arctica) group at coastal breeding colony, Skomer Island National Nature Reserve, Skomer Island, Pembrokeshire, Wales, United Kingdom

Atlantic Puffin (Fratercula arctica) group at coastal breeding colony, Skomer Island National Nature Reserve, Skomer Island, Pembrokeshire, Wales, United Kingdom

Puffins at their Burrows:

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Atlantic Puffin (Fratercula arctica) at nest burrow at sunrise, Skomer Island National Nature Reserve, Skomer Island, Pembrokeshire, Wales, United Kingdom

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Atlantic Puffin (Fratercula arctica) at nest burrow, Skomer Island National Nature Reserve, Skomer Island, Pembrokeshire, Wales, United Kingdom

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Atlantic Puffin (Fratercula arctica) at nest burrow, Skomer Island National Nature Reserve, Skomer Island, Pembrokeshire, Wales, United Kingdom

To collect food for their one chick (also called a pufflling), they forage in relatively close waters (most within 7km from this colony) by diving underwater and catching small fish. They collect multiple fish at one time by pressing the caught ones to their upper mandible with their tongue (amazing or what!?!). Eleven species of fish are common prey (mostly sandeels), but up to twenty four different species of fish have been recorded to be used as food by these guys.

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Atlantic Puffin (Fratercula arctica) carrying fish prey, Skomer Island National Nature Reserve, Skomer Island, Pembrokeshire, Wales, United Kingdom

When on land without fish, they engage in a few different behaviors.

Like many other birds, a male and female pair bond by touching their bills together in a behavior called billing.

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Atlantic Puffin (Fratercula arctica) pair billing, Skomer Island National Nature Reserve, Skomer Island, Pembrokeshire, Wales, United Kingdom

Flapping their wings is also quite easily seen. Ornithologists interpret this as both a comfort and/or displacement behavior.

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Atlantic Puffin (Fratercula arctica) flapping wings, Skomer Island National Nature Reserve, Skomer Island, Pembrokeshire, Wales, United Kingdom

When you are this cute, it’s understandable when one needs a rest.

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Atlantic Puffin (Fratercula arctica) resting, Skomer Island National Nature Reserve, Skomer Island, Pembrokeshire, Wales, United Kingdom

Towards the late evening, you may start seeing individuals head-flicking, which is a way to communicate between individuals and may partially serve to synchronize the departure from the colony.

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Atlantic Puffin (Fratercula arctica) head-flicking, Skomer Island National Nature Reserve, Skomer Island, Pembrokeshire, Wales, United Kingdom

The amazing thing about this particular colony is that the puffins let you get extremely close, often even running right by your feet. Scientists on the island are currently figuring out if our human presence is having a negative impact on the Puffins. Instinctively, I would wager that to be the case but I talked to one scientist who said it may be balanced by the fact that our presence often dissuades the gulls from coming in and stealing the puffins caught fish. I sure hope that’s the case and I am interested to hear the final results of that study. At the very least, it allows for amazing portrait opportunities.

Atlantic Puffin (Fratercula arctica) in breeding plumage, Skomer Island National Nature Reserve, Skomer Island, Pembrokeshire, Wales, United Kingdom

Atlantic Puffin (Fratercula arctica) in breeding plumage, Skomer Island National Nature Reserve, Skomer Island, Pembrokeshire, Wales, United Kingdom

Atlantic Puffin (Fratercula arctica) at sunrise, Skomer Island National Nature Reserve, Skomer Island, Pembrokeshire, Wales, United Kingdom

Atlantic Puffin (Fratercula arctica) at sunrise, Skomer Island National Nature Reserve, Skomer Island, Pembrokeshire, Wales, United Kingdom

I really didn’t feel like I had enough time to hang out with these amazing creatures and only tried for a few minutes to get a flight shot.

Atlantic Puffin (Fratercula arctica) flying, Skomer Island National Nature Reserve, Skomer Island, Pembrokeshire, Wales, United Kingdom

Atlantic Puffin (Fratercula arctica) flying, Skomer Island National Nature Reserve, Skomer Island, Pembrokeshire, Wales, United Kingdom

or a on the water shot for that matter.

Atlantic Puffin (Fratercula arctica) on water, Skomer Island National Nature Reserve, Skomer Island, Pembrokeshire, Wales, United Kingdom

Atlantic Puffin (Fratercula arctica) on water, Skomer Island National Nature Reserve, Skomer Island, Pembrokeshire, Wales, United Kingdom

If you want to see more Puffin pictures from the trip, click here, if you want a free desktop wallpaper, check out this blog post.

Free Nature Wallpaper for Download – Atlantic Puffin

Aren’t Atlantic Puffins just the cutest? These amazing seabirds are the penguins of the north, at least that’s what they remind me of. Like most seabirds, they really only come ashore to breed. This individual was photographed on Skomer Island in Wales. The Atlantic Puffins (Fratercula arctica) build their burrows into the soft earth between the flowers, to which they return to feed their chicks or to roost at night.

As always, just click on the image for the wallpaper sized image or use this link Atlantic Puffin.

Atlantic Puffin (Fratercula arctica) in breeding plumage, Skomer Island National Nature Reserve, Skomer Island, Pembrokeshire, Wales, United Kingdom

Atlantic Puffin (Fratercula arctica) in breeding plumage, Skomer Island National Nature Reserve, Skomer Island, Pembrokeshire, Wales, United Kingdom