Category Archives: Wildlife

Iceland Journal – “Clear the Way!” – West Iceland

“Some beautiful paths can’t be discovered without getting lost.”
― Erol Ozan

This, our sixth day of travel, did not leave us lost, as the quote may imply, but it did send us down some ‘interesting’ paths.

As I noted in previous posts, there are roads which enter Iceland’s mountainous and rugged interior known as “F” roads, which we were prohibited from driving on with our rental vehicle, despite studded tires and four-wheel drive. As Iceland approaches late autumn, these roads can quickly turn treacherous and they are very remote, so emergency assistance would be very expensive, if even available.

As we mapped out our path from Svínavatn to the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, we noticed that travelling the Ring Road would have taken us further south than we wanted, meaning extra distance and time lost driving. We were directed by locals to take a ‘shortcut’ cross-country from Staðarskáli to the town of Buðardalur, at the base of the West Fjords. It turned out that the ‘shortcut’ was an “F” road, so we sought other passages. It turns out that just north of the “F” road is an ‘official’ road, in the form of Highway 59, which parallels the “F” road. I’m really not sure how much better than the “F” road this highway was, since it was roughly thirty kilometers of black, icy, and potholed track through some of the most desolate landscape we had seen yet. I think we drove nearly twenty kilometers without seeing a single building. Barren grassland and low hills reaching to the horizon.

What we did see lots of was sheep. Despite the barren, windswept landscape, sheep were everywhere. That was true, not just here, but throughout Iceland. There are just over three hundred thousand people in Iceland, and at last count, there were over eight hundred thousand sheep. They are everywhere, in open fields, on high mountain sides, in the tortured and twisted lava fields, and often, on the road. Yes, there are fences aplenty, but the sheep seem to find their way over, around, and under the fences, often grazing right next to the road, or like here, on the road. So you have to be ever vigilant while driving.

This troupe was very cooperative, except for a few stragglers, who hurried to catch up with the rest of the flock, who were waiting patiently on the far side of the bridge. I just had to stop to take a picture, since this captured yet another aspect of our drive.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD @ 200mm
1/125 sec, f/35.6 ISO 200

For more images like this, please visit my website (images are available for purchase)
http://www.edlehming.com

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Iceland Journal – “Icelandic Horse” – Lagarfljót, East Iceland

“Icelandic Horse” - Lagarfjót, East Iceland

“A horse loves freedom, and the weariest old work horse will roll on the ground or break into a lumbering gallop when he is turned loose into the open.” 
― Gerald Raftery

Today’s image is a bit of a break from mountains, waterfalls and fjords, though I saw plenty along the way to this location, near the town of Egilsstaðir in Eastern Iceland. Unlike my previous photos, which featured primarily the coastal region, this image was made inland on a long lake named Lagarfljót.

My son and I had spent the day travelling and photographing the East fjords and our evening stops was Egilsstaðir. We had made good time and got to this are a bit ahead of schedule, so decided to travel around the lake. The long valley which contains Lagarfljót surprised us, since it is filled with trees; something we had not expected in Iceland, especially not in abundance, as was the case here. The trees are an Icelandic Birch, which is quite stunted and dense, more of a tall bush really.

Further along the shore, we came across a small herd of Icelandic horses, close enough to the road that we could get some good photos. Like the birches, the Icelandic horses have adapted to their environment and are quite short and furry, making them better suited to the rough terrain and cool, wet weather. By short, I mean they are about the size of ponies, standing at only 13 to 14 hands or 132 to 142 centimeters high . They are also an old breed, having been imported to the island in the 9th and 10th century. They are also the only breed of horse in Iceland, since the import of horse is forbidden. They also have very few diseases.

They come in all colours but I chose this gray one to photograph, primarily because I liked the colours and texture of her mane. She posed for me quite calmly, allowing me to get a shot with the lake in the background.

We saw many of these horses, throughout the county but few were close enough to photograph well. So I am glad to have had this opportunity.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD @ 165 mm
1/160 sec, f/4.0, ISO 400

For more images like this, please visit my website (images are available for purchase)
http://www.edlehming.com

“Wood Nymph”

“Wood Nymph”

“Sometimes you just had to crawl through the dark before
you could see the light.” 
― E.L. Montes

Butterflies can be a challenge to photograph. They are quite shy and their irregular flight makes them tough to track. But, it’s that irregular movement that makes me notice them.

This wood nymph first appeared in my peripheral vision and floated around me for some time before finally landing, far away from me and in the darker recesses of forest along the trail.

Over time, I got closer, and it flew away, always staying out of range for me. After some time of pursuing it, the butterfly finally landed close enough for me to approach it, slowly, with my macro lens. I was more concerned with capturing an image than fiddling with aperture settings, so depth of field is a tad shallow for my liking. Nonetheless, I was able to get a decent image of it, as it sat near its dark retreat, staring at me. As soon as I snapped the shot, it was off again.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 (272ENII)@90mmm
1/200 sec, f/7.1, ISO 100

For more images like this, please visit my website (images are available for purchase)
http://www.edlehming.com

“That Icy Stare”

“That Icy Stare”

“I hate and fear snakes, because if you look into the eyes of any snake you will see that it knows all and more of the mystery of man’s fall, and that it feels all the contempt that the Devil felt when Adam was evicted from Eden. 
― Rudyard Kipling

Unlike Kipling, I have a strange yet respectful fascination with the snakes I encounter on my many hikes. None of the snakes in my area are poisonous, though they will bite when bothered. There is something about the eyes of a snake. They are so focussed, unblinking, and cold. Truly a predator

This particular snake, found on the trail at Secord Forest, where I hike quite frequently, is a common Garter Snake and was on the path sunning itself when I heard it move as I crested a ridge and the snake remained on the path as I approached, affording me a great opportunity to make a few photos.

For this particular image I had to lay down on the ground and get quite close. I expect the movement made the snake rear up for a look, which made for this lovely shot. It took a few attempts to get the tongue flitting out, but was worth the wait.

It’s hard to believe, but just last week I encountered two Garter Snakes basking in the sun right next to ice patches, which are now merely a memory, but they slipped off before I could get a good shot.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 (272ENII)@90mmm

1/160 sec, f/8.0, ISO 500 

For more images like this, please visit my website (images are available for purchase)
http://www.edlehming.com

“The Final Stretch”

“The Final Stretch”

“Are you tired? Are you feeling that you will not be able to reach your destination? Then all you have to remember is that those who reached their far and hard destinations also felt the same way on their way! Knowing what others felt will give you a great power to complete your journey!” 
― Mehmet Murat ildan

I was looking for a suitable quote for this image and Mehmet always seems to have something that resonates with me.

The journey of the countless rainbow trout up Duffins Creek every April fascinates me. Since I saw salmon spawning in BC, these mass migrations have been a thing of wonder. The distance the fish travel, through almost insurmountable obstacles; strong currents, shallow water, and tangles of fallen tree limbs, to name only a few.

Yet, they persevere and most make it to the destination. In this case, a large dam that separtarates the introduced rainbow trout from the native brown trout. It’s at this dam that I witness the greatest ‘stretches’ as the trout leap high in the air, hoping to conquer the dam, to no avail. It’s their final stretch, literally, as they extend their brightly coloured bodies through the air. Once they figure they can’t go any further upstream, they spawn in a deep pool at the base of the dam, and make the return journey to Lake Ontario, this time, with the current to their favour.

In case you are wondering, I sat on a rock near the base of the dam for about an hour, waiting for just the right moment, and testing my reflexes, to make several images and settling on this one, which nicely shows the colour of the trout as the sunlight shines on its outstretched body. Also an act of perseverance.

If you like this image, I made another one similar to it, 3 years go, in the same location.

https://edlehming.wordpress.com/2015/04/17/rainbow-trout-jump-whitevale-dam-pickering-ontario/

Nikon D800
Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD @ 200mm
1/2000 sec, f/5.0 ISO 250

For more images like this, please visit my website (images are available for purchase)
http://www.edlehming.com

“The Return”

“The Return”

“Home is where you go to find solace from the ever changing chaos, to find love within the confines of a heartless world, and to be reminded that no matter how far you wander, there will always be something waiting when you return.” 
― Kendal Rob

“The Return”

The return of migratory birds and the return of spring. Two things that go together nicely. Here we stand, on the cusp of spring, recent snows blanketing the ground in a final reminder of the season, now passing.

Birdsong, fills the air, between the sound of trees groaning in the north wind, its bite now feeling less severe, sun shining into the depths of the forest, lighting the dark recesses.

I love this time of year, the warming light and the lengthening days. In mere weeks, new growth with erupt from the ground, as the sun thaws the now frozen ground. Soon, life in abundance will return to the forest.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD @ 170mm
1/400 sec, f/10.0 ISO 250

For more images like this, please visit my Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/EdLehming
or my website (images are available for purchase)
http://www.edlehming.com