Not exactly a wildlife shot, but one of my favorite adventure selfies. I’m pretty much at my happiest when I’ve got my tent strapped to my bike heading into the wilderness. This one was taken near the lava field as I crossed southern Idaho. Read on to see some of my favorite wildlife photos. (photo/Chris Morgan)
A grazing brown bear on the Alaska Peninsula – a place about the size of England that is home to around 9000 of them! It’s probably my favorite place on earth. In late May and June the bears graze almost 24-7 – the sedges are packed with protein and the bears seem to crave it early in the season. To replenish nutrients lost during 6 months of winter denning. (photo/Chris Morgan)
Crocodiles gather on a riverbank in Costa Rica. We were on our way to film leaf-cutter ants for our Animal Homes series when we encountered them. (photo/Chris Morgan)
Brown bear tracks on the Alaska Peninsula. My heart skips a beat every time I see a track – I’m not sure why, but I’m always as excited to see bear sign as I am the bears themselves. A single track in the North Cascades near my home would make headline news – there are fewer than a dozen bears in the mountains here. (photo/Chris Morgan)
An Atlantic puffin in the Scottish Hebrides. I fell in love with these beautiful creatures during this shoot. The stats are mind blowing, including the fact that they spend 8 solid months at sea every year, only coming back to land to nest – often in the same burrow every time. (photo/Chris Morgan)
The non-slip surface of a tranquilized polar bear paw. One of many adaptations for life on the ice. I took this one while taking various biometrics with a colleague in manitoba, Canada. We were filming the story for our independent non-profit feature film, BEARTREK. (photo/Chris Morgan)
This wolf trotted right upto a small group of us on the Alaska coast. He was about 7 feet away when I snapped this. I could stare into the eyes of a wolf for a week – there is something about their knowing look, and their behavior in general that fascinates me. Wolves returned naturally to my home state of Washington in 2008 – like bears, they are a very good symbol of wilderness and ecological health. (photo/Chris Morgan)
The giant track of a large male brown bear – like us, 5 toes, but unlike us, the largest toe is on the outside. The claws show very clearly in the mud on this track – they are often as long as a human finger. This fella probably weighed in at around 1200 pounds. (photo/Chris Morgan)
One of the most stunning things I have ever witnessed. This is a rare Andean or spectacled bear in Peru. We were there filming them for our independent non-profit feature film, BEARTREK. The bear climbed down this vertical wall to our amazement….you’ll have to watch the film to find out why 🙂 (photo/Chris Morgan)
A brown bear takes care of an itch is a crystal clear pool while fishing for silver salmon on the Alaska coast. This diet lets them pack on about a pound of weight a day. To do that they are consuming 25,000 calories plus daily. It’s why the bears here get so big. (photo/Chris Morgan)
Perfect wolf tracks cross the silty sand on an estuary of the Alaska Peninsula. Like a dog track, but as wide as a large man’s fist. I’ve watched wolves there fish alongside the bears like a scene from the ancient past in a place that seems to represent the wild like nowhere else I’ve been. (photo/Chris Morgan)
A tiny hummingbird nest in Arizona. I found this one on the ground as we were filming hummingbirds for our ‘Animal Homes’ series. My index finger just about fit inside – amazingly that’s room enough for 2 baked-bean sized eggs. (photo/Chris Morgan)
The only bite I acquired while filming ‘Animal Homes’ was from a leaf-cutter ant in Costa Rica. And even this one doesn’t really count as it was self-inflicted. I was testing the strength of their giant jaw muscles (25% of their body weight). Sure enough they effortlessly cut through my skin and then went on to shear right through the calloused part of my thumb. Amazing! Their homes are mind-boggling too – 10 million of them live together – all sisters. (photo/Chris Morgan)
I’m usually on the other side of the camera, so for a photographer, I make a pretty good ecologist. These are some of my favorite wildlife photos—not award winners, but attached to fond memories and stories from the field from my 25+ years of research and 5 years of filmmaking with PBS Nature and others. I hope you enjoy them.
Chris Morgan is the host/narrator of NATURE’s 3-part Animal Homes series airing Wednesday, April 8, 15 and 22 at 8pm (ET) on PBS (check local listings).