About me

Born in Germany, I went to high school and art school there. Immigrated to USA, worked on Wall St as secretary, moved to Iowa and got my BS degree, then medical school. Practiced internal medicine for about 30 years, now retired, and have all the time in the world to do what I most like to do.  I was a “naturalist” from a very young age. I was fortunate in that my parents gave me a lot of freedom allowing me to roam the countryside by myself. This was after the war in Germany. There wasn’t much traffic and large sections of land had turned into wilderness. I was interested in birds, snakes, rabbits, flesh-eating plants, wild flowers, also cattle, pigs, geese., any living thing. Later on my dad gave me my first binoculars and getting on our bikes at 5 AM we went birding together.

 However, my real introduction to birding came many years later on a trip to Texas as member of a bird watching group. I took photographs of whooping cranes. That got me hooked on birding with a camera, and gradually I acquired better cameras, better lenses.

I am fascinated by birds. They are so utterly foreign to the way we must live our lives. Like fish in the oceans, they are free to move around, can’t be confined. They seem to live in a parallel world, their movements following age-old patterns. I wrote about this in a post on June 4th, 10 “…… watching birds allows us to enter into an untamed, unregulated, natural world which still exists within our urbanized lives. It nourishes our primeval yearning for our place in nature. Fortunately birds have little if any economic value and this probably saved them from becoming manageable assets in our corporate culture. They are still free. There is a term for this yearning: biophilia, a love for life, which makes us find time to lose ourselves in nature. E.O. Wilson wrote a very readable book titled “Biophilia” exploring this concept.”

 But nothing can save birds from colliding with modern industry. And seeing such a collision first hand prompted me to start my blog.  After a trip to the northsea island of Helgoland, bringing back several hundred photos of seabirds, particularly Northern Gannets, I was so upset by what I saw when I scrutinized the photos closely, the devastating effect on birds’ lives of the junk that we throw away, of what industrial plants and ships discard into the oceans, all that plastic indestructible debris that traps both birds and fish, that I decided to start a blog. That was my first post about Northern Gannet chicks and adults getting caught and dying in fragments of plastic netting.

There is another trait that I am sharing with many birders: the thrill of the hunt, not only seeing the bird but for me also documenting it with a photo that catches its essence and beauty.

Lastly, and best of all, once I started my blog, I discovered a large community of like-minded bloggers. The first thing I do every morning when having my coffee is scrolling through the new blog posts that came in over night. It makes me feel connected to the larger world of birding

I am a subscriber to Scientific American (digital), New Scientist, Nature, and for old times' sake New England Journal of Medicine,  and love to read Greg Laden's blog. 

My gear: I have been using a Nikon D300 camera with a Sigma OS 150 - 500 mm lens for long shots. I recently sold my Nikkor VR 18 - 200 mm lens and bought a Canon Powershot S95 for landscape and close-up shots. I am keeping my Panasonic Lumix FZ28 as a multipurpose camera for travel. I am recording birds with an Olympus LS-10 recorder, use Audacity to edit my recordings and Raven Lite to create spectrograms.

In 9/11 I added a Nikkor VR 70 - 200 lens with a maximal aperture of 1:2.8 with 2 x teleconverter; it's fast and accurate and I have come to prefer it over the Sigma 150-500 mm lens.

5/13 I bought a Canon Powershot SX50HS and sold my Powershot S95 on Amazon.com, also my Panasonic Lumix on Ebay. Most of the time I can now leave my heavy Nikon D300 with long lens at home. It will still take a lot of practice to make this new camera do what I want. 

Software: Photoshop CS6, Lightroom 4, Imagenomic's Noiseware plugin