Monday, November 17, 2014

Brazil and Brazilians

I just spent a fan-frickin'-tastic week in Brazil.  After two weeks at sea, I arrived in Rio, but quickly headed south to Porto Allegre, before finishing things up in the capital of Bahia: Salvador.  My primary goal in Brazil there was to photograph some birds...  But in the process I got to see some incredible parts of this diverse country and met some really lovely people.  

I have to say, I like Brazil.  A lot.  They country has soul and style.  Here's how coconut water should be served, straight from the source:

For most of the trip, I hung out with an incredible community of biologists in the southern most state of Brazil, Rio Grande do Sul.…  They were so warm and welcoming.

In the south of Brazil coconuts aren't as plentiful as in tropical parts of the country.  But they make a tea-like drink out of yerba mate that has some interesting rituals and culture surrounding it.  The folks down in Rio Grande do Sul drink it ALL THE TIME.  It's called chimarrão, and it's served in the husk of a fruit and drank out of a straw, with a filter on one end so you don't end up eating a salad leaves and twigs instead:

Though I spent most of my time in marshes and rain forest, the beaches in Brazil are incredible...

My hostesses in Porto Allegre where three biologists, who generously let me tag alone with their research and gave me a wonderful window into life in southern Brazil…

Grasiela measuring a thrush:

Alejandra and the cotingas:

Laisa's lovely laugh:

It was definitely the first time that I did field work under the supervision of an armed guard:

I've been shooting from the hip a lot lately, and trying to loosen up a bit more, formally.  Embrace moments.  This image was taken without looking through the viewfinder and without cropping…  but maybe it's a bit too tight still, given that style of working:

Relax Todd!  Get into the rhythm of life in Brazil...  I did get to hear quite a bit of music, and tried to dance to it too.  What I lacked in rhythm I made up for with enthusiasm:

Listening to music outside late at night with new friends: 

I tried a lot of excellent food, though I didn't have any sting ray, which is what this gentleman is butchering on the beach:

Triptych of odd objects…  a fish head, a watermelon shell, and an enormous beetle:

Little church in a quiet town...

Here's an homage to the one and only Matthew Moore; I found a whale mural in a relatively remote corner of Brazil:

Brazil is such a fabulous mixing pot of culture.  I loved seeing these Turkish eyes staring at me from here and there:

Round Tree:

The irises. on repeat:

The cat:

Seeking shade:

"Old towns" across the planet are full of folks in traditional dress and tourist kitsch made in India; Salvador is no exception...

We arrived in Rio in the morning:

And left Salvador at night:

Growth and decay…

A sculpture made from stylized chimarrão glasses, though locals affectionately refer to as the "breast sculpture…"  Here I've photographed it with the ever present Brazilian police:

A close encounter:

Confetti falling out of the sky at the soccer game I went to, which was wild:

Giuliano was very excited that Grêmio won:

It was the city championship game, the final event between two rival soccer clubs.

Yet again, the police force... well prepared to deal with crowds if things got out of hand after the game:

But the celebration was joyous on a beautiful Sunday evening…

Tree #1:

Tree #2:

Constructing a city:

The Storytellers:

Also shot from the hip, at Porto Allegre's main market:

On the day it rained:

Grasiela's favorite part of the city:

Room with low hanging lamp:

Slipping face:

New friends:

Winging it back to the ship:

Only two more ports left: Barbados and Cuba.  Then home sweet home!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Transatlanticism: from Barcelona to Rio

Well, for the past two weeks I've been at sea, crossing the Atlantic Ocean.  Kind of a bucket list item, actually…  Though I don't really have a bucket list (instead I just aspire to do interesting things).  We left Barcelona on October 23rd and we have arrived in Rio this morning, November 7th.  As soon as we clear customs I'm going to go on a very long run.  And this evening I'll jumping onto an airplane to go hang out with some ornithologists for a few days.

This period of two weeks involved a lot of  horizons… And surprisingly little rocking and rolling, actually.  The sea was merciful.  The vast expanse of ocean was punctuated by some excited brushes with dry land: like passing through the Straight of Gibraltar, stopping by the Canary Island to refuel (though we weren't able get off the ship), as well as observing wildlife: flying fish, dolphins, whales, and a pretty decent variety of seabirds.  On the plus side, I didn't lose my mind.  Actually, between copious amounts of yoga, happy hour, teaching a lot of classes and meeting with a lot of students to discuss their photos, I had a pretty good time.

After Sugimoto:


Sometimes I made really wild compositions, by not putting the horizon in the center of the frame:

The Rock of Gibraltar (without ship and with ship):

I even included a Gannet in this photo:

Canary Islands:

We went out the Straight of Gibraltar, past the Canary and Cape Verde Islands, and on to Brazil (I bet you thought it was going to be another photograph of the horizon):

I took this photo when we were quite far from land:

On the bridge, plotting our course:

The bridge is fancy:

I'm not sure what this joystick does, but it looks important:

Someone needs to press this button every twelve minutes, or else an alarm sounds:

My hallway:

A Masked Booby shat on my cabin window:

This Leach's Storm Petrel landed on the boat one morning:

My birding has been relatively passive on the ship, thus far…  That'll change when I'm spending time with ornithologists in Brazil!  But I still have managed to put together a relatively respectable list during my travels around Europe.  Though there are some glaring misses, there have also been a lot of lovely surprises… Here are my birds sightings from the past 3 months in Europe and North Africa:
  1. Great Northern Diver
  2. Great-crested Grebe
  3. Red-necked Grebe
  4. Little Grebe
  5. Cory's Shearwater
  6. Manx Shearwater
  7. Yelkouan Shearwater
  8. Leach's Storm-petrel
  9. Gannet
  10. Cormorant
  11. Shag
  12. Cattle Egret
  13. Little Egret
  14. Grey Heron
  15. White Stork
  16. Mute Swan
  17. Greylag Goose
  18. Shelduck
  19. Mallard
  20. Teal
  21. Tufted Duck
  22. Red-breasted Merganser
  23. Goldeneye
  24. Black Kite
  25. Red Kite
  26. Egyptian Vulture
  27. Buzzard
  28. Sparrowhawk
  29. Kestrel
  30. Hobby
  31. Barbary Falcon
  32. Peregrine Falcon
  33. Lanner Falcon
  34. Pheasant
  35. Coot
  36. Moorhen
  37. Black-winged Stilt
  38. Ringed Plover
  39. Ruddy Turnstone
  40. Common Sandpiper
  41. Dunlin
  42. Redshank
  43. Great Skua
  44. Mediterranean Gull
  45. Little Gull
  46. Black-headed Gull
  47. Common Gull
  48. Audouin's Gull
  49. Herring Gull
  50. Lesser Black-backed Gull
  51. Great Black-backed Gull
  52. Sandwich Tern
  53. Common Tern
  54. Arctic Tern
  55. Guillemot
  56. Black Guillemot
  57. Wood Pigeon
  58. Stock Dove
  59. Rock Dove
  60. Turtle Dove
  61. Collared Dove
  62. Great-spotted Cuckoo
  63. Ring-necked Parakeet
  64. Monk Parakeet
  65. Ring-necked Parakeet
  66. Tawny Owl
  67. Little Swift
  68. White-rumped Swift
  69. Swift
  70. Kingfisher
  71. Hoopoe
  72. Roller
  73. Green Woodpecker
  74. Grey-headed Woodpecker
  75. Skylark
  76. Crested Lark
  77. Desert Lark
  78. Crag Martin
  79. Sand Martin
  80. Brown-throated Sand Martin
  81. Red-rumped Swallow
  82. Swallow
  83. House Martin
  84. Tree Pipit
  85. Tawny Pipit
  86. Pied Wagtail
  87. Grey Wagtail
  88. Yellow Wagtail
  89. Wren
  90. Robin
  91. Thrush Nightingale
  92. Nightingale
  93. Rufous Bush Robin
  94. Stonechat
  95. Northern Wheatear
  96. Black-eared Wheatear
  97. Redstart
  98. Black Redstart
  99. Blue Rock Thrush
  100. Blackbird
  101. Ring Ouzel
  102. Fieldfare
  103. Redwing
  104. Song Thrush
  105. Mistle Thrush
  106. Sedge Warbler
  107. Reed Warbler
  108. Chiffchaff
  109. Arctic Warbler
  110. Spectacled Warbler
  111. Sardinian Warbler
  112. Blackcap
  113. Goldcrest
  114. Firecrest
  115. Willow Tit
  116. Great Tit
  117. Blue Tit
  118. Coal Tit
  119. Nuthatch
  120. Common Bulbul
  121. Red-backed Shrike
  122. Starling
  123. Spotless Starling
  124. Jay
  125. Magpie
  126. Jackdaw
  127. Alpine Chough
  128. Chough
  129. Raven
  130. Carrion Crow
  131. Rook
  132. Tree Sparrow
  133. House Sparrow
  134. Spanish Sparrow
  135. Rock Sparrow
  136. Brambling
  137. Chaffinch
  138. Siskin
  139. Goldfinch
  140. Bullfinch
  141. House Bunting
  142. Rock Bunting
Bring on Brazil….


Todd R. Forsgren
(202) 413-4846