Sunday, January 24, 2016

Elias Shoots

King penguins
You'll excuse me if I talk about my oldest kid for a moment.

Elias is nine, and seems to be taking an unreasonable degree of delight from the life that he lucked into by being born the child of two marine biologists who were just about to set out on an open-ended sail on a smallish boat.

He has become our go-to for any questions of field identification when we spot a bird that is new to us.  He leafs through our field guides in his spare time and has a fantastic memory for what he reads.  I have learned not to voice my doubts too strongly when he expresses opinions on questions of range or plumage.  That memory is a counter-weight to his greatest weakness as a junior naturalist, which is an over-enthusiasm for making sightings of the unusual or note-worthy.

He is also finding a passion for wildlife photography and has long expressed the hope that one of his photos might be "good enough" for the blog or (forbid!) Cruising World.

The bird pics in this post are all his.

Rockhopper and tussac
Albatross chick and rockhopper chick
Many of these rockhopper penguin shots were taken on Westpoint Island in the Falklands, where Elias made a solo visit to the colony.

I woke with a migraine that day, so Galactic wasn't mobile.  Alisa was canning up the mutton that was hanging in the stern arch when we sailed away from Beaver Island.  So Elias set out on his own, hiking from the jetty at the settlement across the island to the combined albatross/rockhopper colony.

I love the image of his nine-year-old self, by himself, creeping slowly around the birds so as not to disturb them and taking pictures of what he saw.  The surf booming on the base of the cliffs, the wind in the tussac grass, the constant hullabaloo of the birds, and Elias, both excited to be taking it all in on his own and also comfortable in the knowledge that this is the sort of adventure that you have when you're nine.

Not to tell stories on him, but as I understand it he stopped to take a leak at one point, forgot to re-buckle his belt when finished, and somehow managed to lose the entire belt before he realized his mistake and went back to find it.  I love the combination that story tells - a kid who is still coming to grips with the basic mechanics of life who is also completely unfussed over the proposition of striding off to a penguin colony by himself.

Gentoo and sheep
Black-browed albatross
Elias is also something of a fire-eater when it comes to the selection of destinations for Galactic in the global South ("I've never been seasick in my life!").  He is dead keen on visiting South Georgia.

Stay tuned on that one.


  1. A chip off the old block. Proud dad!

  2. Very good shots!

    What a blessing it is to have the opportunity to raise your family like this!

    One day soon...


  3. Fatty say, "I was honored to share my battle weapons with him and his brother!

  4. Elias, these are fantastic nature photos! Good on ya.

  5. Elias, thanks for the nice photos. Mike, thanks for helping me recall that some of my most exciting memories are of solo excursions at the same age.

  6. What a thrill to be left to your own to capture such beauty. Always enjoy your photography Elias.

  7. Hi everyone - thanks for all the positivity aimed Elias' way. I'm sure he'll be thrilled. Fatty and Carolyn, he'll be especially pleased to hear from you guys. I hope Fatty is PRACTICING his skills with the battle weapons. Eric and Elias are taking things to the next level.

  8. Thanks for the great pictures ,Elias. We'll be looking for more from time to time. Gail

  9. I think Elias has got more comments than any other post you have written Mike? Good on you guys for giving him his independence. Have you told him about the Kerguelen Islands? What is Alisa up while you are away?