Cruise Ship Noordam – Glacier Bay National Park

Ron Niebrugge Alaska, Photos, Travel Leave a Comment

Holland America cruise ship Noordam, Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska.

Holland America cruise ship Noordam, Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska.

For a sense of scale, that is a giant Holland American cruise ship M/V Noordam with nearly 2,000 passenger and 800 crew that is being dwarfed by the Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska scenery!

I fly down today to begin another trip to Glacier Bay as part of a photo tour – really looking forward to getting back!

Automatic Gravity Feed Watering System

Ron Niebrugge How to, Photos, Travel Leave a Comment

Finshed water feeder.  The waterhole is down in the wash at the top of the frame.

Finshed water feeder. The waterhole is down in the wash at the top of the frame.

I thought I would share my experience in setting up an automatic, gravity feed watering system as it could be of benefit to other.  I wanted a way to automatically fill a watering hole at the Desert Photo Retreat in Arizona for the wildlife over the summer.  I’m surprised with the popularity of rain barrel collection systems, hydroponics and the like that this wouldn’t be easier.  However, I learned the hard way that most automatic watering timers need a fair amount of pressure.  The popular Rainbird one I purchased needed almost 30 pounds of pressure to operate.  There is one exception, this one made by Toro, however the bad reviews and plastic gears made me nervous.  I did buy the Toro unit and placed it on another tank for watering some plants, something that isn’t as critical, I’ll let you know how it holds up.

So I asked for solutions on Facebook, and received an incredible response.  My friends seem to be much smarter then I am!  🙂  The obvious solution was a pump, but I wanted to avoid a pump in case the tank went dry for some reason, I didn’t want to burn the pump up.  I have enough water to last until August, and I plan to go back and re-fill then, but in case I don’t make it, I don’t want a fried pump.

Someone suggested this electric, always closed solenoid valve.  This way I could add power on a schedule to fill my waterhole.  For a timer, it was suggested a use a Arduino.  Another suggestion was for a Raspberry Pi.  Both good suggestions, and something I could see implementing in the future.  One day I will have year around wifi which would give me the ability to not only monitor the water hole remotely with a webcam, but also control the valve remotely as well.  However, in the interest in time and simplicity, I ultimately went with this simple programmable timer.  The water tanks themselves are IBC totes I purchased on Cragslist.  Note, the of the links are part of a Amazon affiliate program.

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Animal Friends

Ron Niebrugge Arizona, Travel, Tucson Leave a Comment

Bobcat and Striped Skunk visiting the water hole at the same time.

Bobcat and Striped Skunk visiting the water hole at the same time.

I had this vision that the wildlife in Arizona was largely solitary, rarely interacting with other wildlife except for prey / predator encounters.  I was wrong!

I was often surprised at how often animals would appear to overlap with each other at the water hole – I might see a gray fox with a time stamp of 11:22, then a skunk at 11:23, then a fox again at 11:24.  Other animals as well, but especially the fox and skunks.  So, I moved the camera way back so that I could see the entire area, and increased the frequency of the each photo to each second.  I was shocked to see how much interaction takes place!  Especially with the gray fox and skunks who often seemed to arrive and leave at the same time, do you think they travel together?  Skunk has little to fear as their only predator is the Great Horned Owl (who is also a regular visitor).  Unlike other predators, the owl can’t smell making the skunks main deterrent worthless.  So maybe the skunk feels safe from an owl with wildlife coming in for a drink at the same time.

I never did see the fox and bobcat at the water at the same time, and never saw the coyote there with any other animals as it would prey on most of them.

Check out these photos (past the more) for some interesting interactions.  These are all from the last month on the property.
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Margerie Glacier

Ron Niebrugge Alaska, Photos, Travel Leave a Comment

Margerie Glacier, Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska.

Margerie Glacier, Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska.

Last year at Margerie Glacier, Glacier Bay National Park. I will be back there next week with a photo tour – can’t wait!! Hopefully we have as much luck with the breaching whales as last year. I think the boat helps convey the massive scale of this beautiful place.

Photographing Arizona’s Wildlife A Guide to When, Where and How

Ron Niebrugge Arizona, Photos, Travel, Tucson Leave a Comment

Wild in Arizona: Photographing Arizona’s Wildlife, A Guide to When, Where, and How

Well we just completed a successful season at the Desert Photo Retreat and are back in Alaska.  One of the reasons we were successful is thanks to all the advice we have received from fellow photographers and friends, it has been invaluable.  That said, no one has been more valuable towards our success then Bruce Taubert!  Bruce has a PhD in biology, and worked for 25 years with Arizona Game and Fish so he really knows his wildlife and natural history.  Plus, he is a fantastic photographer doing some cutting edge stuff with camera traps, remote triggers, multiple flashes and night photography.  Not only has his willingness to share been invaluable, but he also brought us many, many wonderful clients this past winter!

You might be thinking, I wish I had a Bruce to advise me, and well you can, almost.  Bruce has recently come out with a new book on photographing wildlife in Arizona.  It is published by my friends Colleen Miniuk-Sperry and Paul Gill, the same one’s who published the similar book on photographing wildflowers in Arizona.  Another must have that I have raved about in the past (even for non-photographers).

Of course you can read on-line forums, email fellow photographers, buy many books and then drive around exploring Arizona in search of wildlife like I have for the last 15 years.  Or you can just buy this book!  I sure wish it was around years ago.  Bruce talks about all kinds of wildlife hot spots, not just for birds, but all wildlife.  The book is illustrated with tons of beautiful photography, plus great little easy to read maps that make it easy to find your way.  Plus, there are lots of sidebars on techniques, helpful hints and other useful information.  It was well worth the investment!

Now I need to disclose, the above link is an affiliate link, so if you click on it and buy the book I stand to make lots and lots of money on commissions from Amazon, well, at least a few cents.  Either way, now you know.  That is not why I did the post, however a few dollars in commissions is a helpful way to support my blog.  Thanks!