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Epic Journeys of Migratory Birds

During breeding season 150000 Birds throng in the Firth of Forth In winter the birds decamp south as far as West Africa To make this image Wilkes and an assistant lugged his gear 122 steps uphill and set up near the ruins of a church about six feet from the nesting birds Standing on the rocky ground for 28 sleepless hours he took 1176 photos Its like a meditative state he says Im alert to everything. Im seeing everything He selected about 150 photos to make this image

 Epic Journeys of Migratory Birds

Bar tailed godwits

PHOTOGRAPH BY JONATHAN HARROD

Bar-tailed godwits look for food in the mud at the Heathcote and Avon Estuary in Christchurch, New Zealand. From their breeding grounds in Alaska, they fly to New Zealand without a break, but on their way back they stop over at the Yellow Sea

birds arrive from northern Canada

PHOTOGRAPH BY DONALD JESKE

Snow geese fill the sky over New Mexico’s Bosque del Apache refuge. Once nearly extinct, their numbers are now so high they’re degrading their breeding areas and threatening other species. The birds arrive from northern Canada around November and spend about three months in the area. By the end of February, most have left for their breeding grounds

BLACK BROWED

PHOTOGRAPH BY STEPHEN WILKES

BLACK-BROWED ALBATROSSES AND SOUTHERN ROCKHOPPER PENQUINS Steeple Jason, Falkland Islands Albatrosses roost by the sea, sharing the grassy incline with penguins. While these albatrosses sit on their nests, warming and protecting their chicks, their partners soar above the ocean, swooping down to catch prey. The birds winter on the Patagonian Shelf and in estuaries in Argentina, and return to the same colony. To reach this remote location, Wilkes made his way through a phalanx of angry striated caracaras. Standing on a mound of tussac grass for a better vantage, he took 926 photos in 26 hours, using about 80 to make this image

LESSER FLAMINGOES Lake

PHOTOGRAPH BY STEPHEN WILKES

LESSER FLAMINGOES Lake Bogoria, Kenya The lesser flamingos of Africa’s Great Rift Valley thrive in the extreme environment of high-altitude soda lakes, feeding on algal blooms that are toxic to many other creatures. The birds are not migratory but nomadic, traveling from one lake to another, wherever food is plentiful. Wilkes shot 1,742 photos over 36 hours from a 30-foot scaffolding wrapped in camouflage, capturing the endless movements of the flamingos and the marabou storks stalking them. He chose about 30 for this image

sandhill cranes performs

PHOTOGRAPH BY JACK DYKINGA

A pair of sandhill cranes performs a mating dance at the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico. The preserve was created in 1939 largely to protect critical habitat used by these sandhill cranes, which breed in the Rocky Mountains and winter in the southwestern United States and Mexico

SANDHILL CRANES

PHOTOGRAPH BY STEPHEN WILKES

SANDHILL CRANES Rowe Sanctuary, Nebraska From mid-February to mid-April, half a million sandhill cranes gather along the Platte River. Emaciated when they arrive from Mexico and the southern United States, they fatten up to migrate on to sub-Arctic and Arctic nesting grounds. From a blind 25 feet high, Wilkes shot 1,377 photos over 36 hours, using about 200 to create this image. During the day the cranes gorge on waste grain left in fields. In the evening they return to the river in wave upon wave. “It’s one of the most magnificent things I have ever witnessed,” he says.

tundra swans

PHOTOGRAPH BY JIM BRANDENBURG

Against a cloudy sky, three tundra swans beat their wings in harmony as they fly from the Arctic, where they breed, to the Pacific coast of the United States, where they will winter. They typically travel in family groups, which can number a hundred or more

White storks

PHOTOGRAPH BY JASPER DOEST

White storks build nests on high perches. In Extremadura, a region in western Spain, man-made nesting poles saved a colony living in an abandoned building when it was renovated. White stork migration is highly variable, with some wintering in Africa while others stay closer to home in Europe.

References : Nationalgeographic

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