Tuesday, January 19, 2016

mangrove magic in the primordial muck

The Mangrove Boardwalk
Near Cairns International Airport
Cairns, Australia

Take a wander into these wetlands and you enter an other-worldly place; be it the snap-crackle-pop sounds that mysteriously emanate from the primordial muck or the heavily adapted and eerie life forms scuttling and scurrying among the shadows. Toadfish, graspid crabs, telescopium whelks, littornid snails, fiddler crabs and the requisite mosquitoes and spiders all make their home here.

Find a place where the sun cracks through these dense mangrove forests, giving light to this dark underworld, and you will discover an ecosystem of complicated but immense beauty. Upstream, where the mangroves give way to the rainforest, a cacophony of bird song punctuates the soft morning light - parrots, cockatoos, lorikeets, lapwings and wood pigeons all lend their distant reverie to the magic of this place.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

do not tread - hiking adventures in the daintree rainforest

Daintree Rainforest

What better place to hike than a trail that winds through a 165-million-year-old rainforest - said to be the oldest on the planet. The bird and frog and insect chorus is deliciously maddening and primeval. The plant life is insane - so many things still thriving and vining and still producing otherworldly fruit - fruit that dinosaurs once ate.

Mossman River 

The Mossman River with its tumbled granite monoliths and pristine waters makes the most spectacular swimming holes - called billabongs down here, down under. I want to explore everyone single one of them. I want to map them and photograph them and swim in them all. And the forest's 90 percent humidity and plus 90 degree temps make the prospect of a dip in the river all the more inviting.

Amythestine Python

This morning I'm cutting a fast clip along the Fig Tree Rapids trail before work begins when I am suddenly stopped in my tracks by several snakes crossing the trail. At closer observation (once the glasses are pushed back upon the nose and the humidity cleared) these several become three, then two - until I realize this singular bundle of taught muscle and rolling rib cage is pushing 12 feet in length all by itself. This gorgeous Amythestine python does not budge. Alternatives that allow me to pass do not pass his mind for even a second. He is the guardian of the end of the trail gate - and I am not allowed in.

My motto: do not go where you are not wanted. I will try again tomorrow. It is the journey, not the destination after all. Seconds later on the rebound I would encounter an apparition, a forest ghost of haunting beauty - white gossamer wings shimmering in the forest air and fluttering up toward the heavens. Eventually the white tail feathers are revealed to belong to a buff-breasted paradise kingfisher.  Who has ever even heard of such thing? And fetching up on a lower fig tree limb looking like the exquisite offspring of a kingfisher and a bird of paradise flycatcher. In birder's terms - its a major get -and I give my most humble thanks to my reptilian friend. After all, not all our guides necessarily appear in human form. Pay attention and nature will reward. Show up and nature will deliver.

Friday, January 8, 2016

hugging the shores - cairns esplanade - australia

Seine Fishing in the Coral Sea from the Cairns' esplanade
An urban hike on the Cairns Esplanade at the crack of dawn before going to work. This dude wades past the crocodile warning and stinger signs to cast his net. A few seconds after snapping this shot, a shark fin breaks the surface of the murky water headed straight for the fisherman. Australia has made a land lubber out of me for certain! I am hugging the shore and sticking to hikes!

Coral Sea at sunrise
Waiting on the Sun - Cairns Esplanade

Tide Moving Out - Cairns Espanade

Australian Pelicans on the Cairns Esplanade

Low Tide - Cairns Esplanade

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

moon waxing gibbous among the company of wild things

Four Mile Beach at Dawn
Port Douglas, Australia
January 2016
A predawn moon waning gibbous, serenaded by a cacophony of wild things on a magical stretch of North Queensland rainforest beach.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

gone walkabout

Daintree Forest at Mossman Gorge
Mossman, Northern Queensland, Australia
January 2016

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Friday, January 1, 2016

2016 greetings from down under

Sunrise - Four Mile Beach - Coral Sea
Port Douglas, Australia
01 January, 2016
The new year dawns bright and shiny in northern Queensland, where the Daintree rainforest meets the Coral Sea. It's already 2016 here and the sun and clouds are providing all the fireworks needed to celebrate the beginning of a new year.

Greetings from 2016 and Happy New Year to all!!!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

instagram 2015 best nine

2015 Instagram Best Nine Photos

There's an end-of-the-year meme going around that generates your nine most popular photos posted to instagram. These aren't my nine most popular - but they are my nine most favorite. They represent an otherworldly, incredible travel year to more than 26 countries - 10 which were lifers!

The photos, from left to right represent: Amman, Jordan; Quartz Mountain, Oklahoma; Kandalama, Sri Lanka, St. Petersburg, Russia; Toronto, Canada (Pan Am Games Opening Ceremony); Kona, Hawaii, Cape May, New Jersey; and Pico Bonito, Honduras. Although Australia was the last country I traveled to in 2015 (still here as I write) - travels to Honduras in early December brought me to my 120th country (not that I am a lister!). 

And since I am fairly certain no one reads my blog anymore - I might as well go ahead and post my travels from 2015 - because they were pretty mind-blowing:

San Antonio, Texas (Alamo Bowl)
Palau (#110)
South Korea
Seychelles (#111)
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

Cartagena, Colombia (#112)
Lake Tahoe, California
Tucson, Arizona

Joshua Tree National Park
Sydney, Australia

Madagascar (#113)
Kona, Hawaii

Honolulu, Hawaii
Toronto, Canada
Rome, Italy
Lisbon, Portugal
La Coruna, Spain
Bilbao, Spain
Bordeaux, France

London, England
Amman, Jordan
Beirut, Lebanon (#114)

Toronto, Canada (Pan Am Games)
a five-week assignment

Alaskan Cruise
Beijing, China

Dubai, United Arab Emirates
St. Petersburg, Russia
Kona, Hawaii

Tonga (#115)
Adelaide, Australia
Sri Lanka (#116)
Maldives (#117)
Bali (#118)
Papua New Guinea
Fiji (#119)

London, England (Rugby World Cup)
Yangon & Bagan, Myanmar

Honduras (#120)
Port Douglas, Australia

crocodile warning

At sunrise today, the winds departed, the rain softened, the ocean calmed and the tide receded to its lowest point, making it possible to wade into the mangrove estuary at the end of the beach. The only problem with a low tide is that it enables the beach walker, the tidal voyeur, and the perpetually curious to unknowingly pass the crocodile warning signs placed nearer to the high tide mark. Oops! 

Friday, December 25, 2015

urban escape - north canadian river - oklahoma city

Stinchcomb Wildlife Refuge
Oklahoma City
December 2015
Today was all about this post-Christmas rush, pre-winter storm, ridiculously warm, 65-degrees-in-December urban escape on the North Canadian River in northwest Oklahoma City. Winter does not look so bad bathed in fog and the brown and purple hues of an exceedingly autumnal winter.

Happy Solstice, happy full-moon on Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

parallel forest

Parallel Forest - Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge
Photographed on the nearly-annual uncle/nephew Christmas break hike - 2015

A nice winter break - step into the evergreen goodness of these nearly 100-year-old cedar trees in the Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge and you are immediately transported back to the delicious green of summer-time.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

collared aracari - lodge at pico bonito, honduras

Collared Aracari - Lodge at Pico Bonito, Honduras

One of my favorite birds from the Honduras trip - the collared aracari - photographed in the rain on the grounds of the insanely beautiful and birdy Lodge at Pico Bonito.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

loop trail hike - lodge at pico bonito - honduras

The spectacular and nearly vertical Loop Trail hike from the Lodge at Pico Bonito was a mystical, magical journey into the heart of the Honduran rainforest.

Loop Trail Hike - Lodge at Pico Bonito
December 2015 - ©trryan

Saturday, November 21, 2015

last rites of autumn - wichita mountain wildlife refuge - oklahoma

Fall leaves peaking in Oklahoma's Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge
 The last rites of Autumn, taken earlier this evening in my beloved Wichita Mountains. So good to be back home so many thousands of miles later.

Under a most luminous gibbous moon tonight, we sat in the warm tropical air, the south wind teasing the changing leaves, and listened to the bitter sweet sounds of a number of nocturnal insects - still plucking their summer tunes, oblivious to how soon summer would be over. This was, indeed, to be their last song. A few hours later the wind turned as if in a tailspin, bared its winter fangs, and now howls through the canopy as the temperatures plunge below freezing.

Cache Creek running through the Narrows


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