Birds Birds Birds

My wife Cathy and I bought a home in an Audubon community in Florida last year and are now spending the winters there. Through my worldwide travels, I occasionally made some bird images but they were never my primary focus. But now I’ve learned that an Audubon community is a target rich bird environment and I’ve spent a lot of my early mornings and late evenings prowling around the many ponds and watersheds learning a new photographic skill……photographing birds.

During this past winter, I’ve taken quite a few very nice images which I hope you will enjoy.

Egrets proliferate in Florida and their beautiful white feathers and lithe body structure give them a beautiful flight profile.

In Flight
Just caught a snack!

During mating season, males grow these spectacular feathers to attract a female into the mating process.

Preening

Great Blue Herons are endemic to much of North and South America and are among the largest of the Florida birds.

Great Blue in lovely evening light
Lovely Great Blue with reflection

Ospreys are the are all over the place and we are lucky to have a number of nests on the property.

Here’s looking at you!

An Osprey pair with one of them sitting on eggs while the other does a flyover!

An Osprey Flyover

Little blue herons are everywhere and establish dozens of nests on the property. I was fortunate to catch an image of this one having dinner

Dinner

Snowy Egrets get their name from the long flowing white feathers adorning their heads. They look particularly beautiful when the wind is blowing and the feathers are floating behind their heads.

Taking Off

Roseate Spoonbills are the most colorful large birds in Florida and we are fortunate to have them on the property. For this image, I’ve use a “high key” developing process to show off their spectacular color.

Coming in for a Landing

Here’s one gathering nest material and flying back to build its nest

Nesting Material I

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Thanks so much

Frank

http://www.frankbinderphotography.com

Coming of Age in Ethiopia

The members of the Hamer tribe in Southern Ethiopia live traditional pastoral lives in the same way as many past generations of their tribe. As pastoralists, cattle play a significant role in the culture and mores of the tribe. Nowhere is this more evident and central to one of the Hamer’s most well known and epic ancient rites of passage; the bull jumping ceremony.

Usually occuring in Autumn, this is an elaborate three day event in which a teenage boy whom the elders regard as a coming of age adult, undergoes the traditional test which determines whether the young man is ready to own cattle and marry the bride the elders have chosen for him.

The ceremony involves much dancing and celebration as the tribe’s women, dressed in their leather clothing and sporting the traditional butter and ochre hair treatment, dance for hours in large dancing circles.

Dancing during the Bull Jumping tradition
Accompanying Bells

To accompany their dancing the women blast horns as the bells attached to their legs ring out.

Before the ceremony, female relatives (with the exception of little girls) of the young man meet the Maza, men who have just passed the bull-jumping ceremony and who temporarily live apart from the rest of the tribe.

In what some might consider a brutal tradition, they demand to be whipped with birch branches by these men as a way of showing their dedication and loyalty towards their male relatives. The idea here is to create a strong bond – an obligation – between them.

As they have undergone such pain so stoically on his behalf, he should feel a debt to protect them in the future. This also signals their attractiveness as a future wife, and it becomes a kind of competition, with women refusing to back down and vowing to each endure the most pain.

With her Birch Stick
Scarification
Decorated for the Ceremony
A Maza

One of the young men who have already completed the bull jumping task and are supporting the current jumper

As the celebratory day passes the bulls are gathered in preparation for the ritual test.

Gathering of the Bulls

The men struggle to line up seven to ten bulls so the test can begin

Wrangling the Bulls

Both ends of the bull are used to exert leverage.

Heads or Tails?

After the bull wrangling is completed and the bulls are lined up, the backs of the bulls are slathered with dung to make them slippery and increase the difficulty of the task. The bull jumper is also slathered in dung and must make four passes across the backs of the bulls without falling. Should he fall short, he will wait a year to attempt the task again.

The First Pass

If successful, he will be eligible to marry the woman chosen by his parents. Bridal payments to the bride’s family are in the range of 30 goats and 20 cattle.

The Last Pass

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Frank Binder