Archive

Monthly Archives: January 2014

Lots of people ask “what is like to be out there?” Or, “how do you take those pictures?”

It’s hard to explain exactly what goes on once you get there and you star making decisions. There is a lot of preparation before arriving to the first shot: research, light assessment, understanding behaviour… I guess everyone develops their own style and system. It’s easier to show than to tell.

But anyways, for those who have asked me that, I have two images I want to share from last week at Jones Beach:

Screen Shot 2014-01-28 at 9.07.17 AMScreen Shot 2014-01-28 at 9.09.36 AM

For more images of my adventures in Wild NYC click here: http://mariodavalos.org/index/#/the-other-nyc/

 

CF6A7087

New York never sleeps. As the entire world collides in this single city, we may think of an urbanist pinnacle when we mention the Big Apple, but beyond Central Park or the Bronx Zoo, there is a whole natural world filled with magical creatures, wonderful places and very different lights.

In my last trip I visited my brother Juango, who has been living in Brooklyn for a while and making awesome music from his Park Slope apartment. We hadn’t really hanged out by ourselves for a while and decided to get to know this “other” New York together; our own urban safari.

At 5am and under intense cold (specially for us Dominican kids) we headed to the shores of Jones Beach. As people from the Caribbean, our concept of “beach” is very different from that of northern folks, which is probably also a reason for the wonderful surprise we got once we arrived. Besides the magnificence of  tundra-like landscape what really shocked me was the great smell of the ocean. It’s totally different from the aromas of the warm waters of the Caribbean Sea. It is more crisp, almost more citrusy and hard.. more like a Riesling than a Port wine, which could be a good comparison.

Brants, dunlins, hawks, falcons and gulls all searched for food, sometimes crossing each others pass in that pursuit. Brants would blast-off, 5,000 birds at a time in what seemed like a massive invasion of angry birds, just to land in the same spot and go on their business. Dunlins would also do their own display, and even if it was more coordinated and harmonious, it was never as impressive as that of the brants.

When we went back to Brooklyn that afternoon, we drove down Flatbush and to Floyd Bennett Field to search for Snowy Owls. Owls right there in the heart of Brooklyn! The light was perfect: soft, round, warm…. and in only minutes we saw the magical bird laying over the grass. As NYPD helicopters took of and landed repeatedly from the airstrip right next to us, the Owl seem undisturbed, sometimes looking up and wondering about the strange and noisy machine in the air. We stood in silence and in the cold, and for a minute I would’ve sworn I was in the tundras of Alaska, and not in the heart Brooklyn.

This is only a little of that other New York; the hidden one. This is my first Wild New York adventure and these are some of the images I captured.

Click here for more images of Wild NYC

CF6A7076
CF6A7498
CF6A7077
CF6A6628CF6A6558CF6A6286

 

_MGL1730While vacationing with my family in the northern New York area and given this year incredible Snowy Owl irruption, I took some time to explore around the beautiful Adirondack Mountains. The kids wanted snow and I wanted Snowies : this would turn to be a perfect match.

Guided by Joan Collins, we planned a brief introductory drive trough it’s communities, habitats and natural treasures. You could spend a lifetime exploring the natural wonders of the Adirondacks but in a place like this, even in a few days, beautiful visions emerge. Joan is the most enthusiastic person I have ever met when it comes to birds. She is knowledgable, patient and cares a great deal about the well-being of birds. She also has a prodigious ear and can identify a bird call in the most extreme conditions.

I had seen the Snowy Owls back in 2011 in Barrow, but coming face to face again with these gorgeous and mysterious birds was a real treat that kept me awake weeks before arriving in Lake Placid. As I had very little time we program 2.5 days of birding. One day for Snowy Owls, one day for a Hawk Owl that was wintering in Vermont and more Snowies that afternoon, and half day in the boreal habitat. As I suspected none was enough to capture the amazing beauty of the area. Apart from the Black-backed Woodpecker, we found every target species we had hoped for plus some amazing landscapes images of the farms and barns around the mountain range. I was very surprised of the pride and honor residents feel for the Adirondacks. It’s almost like they feel part of the mountains themselves, and not necessarily a specific town.

I have explored many hotspots within the US, but the Adirondack Mountains are the best kept secret when it comes to nature and the great outdoors. It was indeed a perfect vacation: the kids got to ski, we had great meals together and I got to do what I love the most: capture in images the amazing beauty and power of nature.

For more images of this adventure please visit my website.

_MGL1104 _MGL1131 _MGL1728CF6A5480 CF6A5977_MGL6028 CF6A5342