My Video Essays

Here is a list of video essays that I have created over the years.

An Antarctic Adventure

In 2004, as part of a two-week excursion in the Southern Atlantic Ocean, we explored parts of the Antarctic Peninsula.    Of particular interest to me, was breaking through ice fields to allow another ship to pass. Also, the incredible wildlife, visits to research stations, and the awesome experience of crossing the stormy Drake Passage as we headed back to Cape Horn and the southern tip of South America.

Sights and Sounds In The Southern Ocean

Since it is physically impossible for me to transport you to some of my favorite places, through the magic of my videos I can share some of the sights and sounds that I have experienced.  Here is a 9 minute video of creatures and their sounds that I encountered while visiting South Georgia Island and the Falkland Islands in the Southern Atlantic Ocean. Below the video there are explanations for each clip.

Visting My Elders

One of my favorite spots for engaging Nature is Ironwood Forest National Monument near Tucson, Arizona. In the secluded solitude of this wonderful desert, I am alone listening, observing, and meditating without any human interruption.

As is my daily practice, I sit outside at dawn anticipating the “golden hour” when the Saguaro Cactus glows from the light of the morning dawn and the birds greet the day in song. Thomas Merton calls this the “virgin point” of the day when Nature asks permission to be.

BIrd Flocks Are Airborne Ecosystems

Each year I set aside some time to observe and photograph the flocks of Sandhill Cranes that migrate to Southeastern Arizona and New Mexico. There is some kind of magic in a flock of birds. There is a synchrony of leaderless energy as the group flows through the air going here and then there while changing shapes that respond to some hidden force. I want to share with you my passion for the migrating Sandhill Cranes at Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area near McNeal, Arizona. I captured this video during the 2015 and 2016 winter seasons.

Here is a list of nature videos created by other people

An Antarctic Adventure – A Video Essay

In 2004, as part of a two-week excursion in the Southern Atlantic Ocean, we explored parts of the Antarctic Peninsula.    Of particular interest to me, was breaking through ice fields to allow another ship to pass. Also, the incredible wildlife, visits to research stations, and the awesome experience of crossing the stormy Drake Passage as we headed back to Cape Horn and the southern tip of South America.

 

 

 

 

For Your Further Consideration

This essay is part of a series of essays that present ideas to environmental educators and all stewards of Nature about ecoliteracy and legacy.   The emphasis is on two key ideas:

  1. Our earth is a living system that transports and transforms energy. The key to an active ecoliteracy that results in a healthy environment for all life on earth is the building of a systems view of life into the minds and hearts of humanity, This worldview includes the fact that all of Nature is interconnected and interdependent.
  2. Environmental education is not simply offering facts. Environmental education must be hands-on and place-based if ideas, facts, and effective conservation strategies are to become a consciousness in the minds and hearts of our youth. Environmental education must include the the passing of this consciousness to future generations.

Why Do I Write These Essays?

Nothing in Nature exists in isolation. The movement of life’s energy, which originates in the sun, takes place because everything is interconnected and interdependent. Your consciousness of interdependence in Nature means that, every time you engage Nature, you ask yourself how a creature, a plant, yourself,  or a natural object is connected to another and to Nature’s greater scheme of things. With this awareness you are prepared to protect Nature’s environment that sustains you. And, you create your legacy by encouraging others to do likewise.

If, after reading my essays, you find yourself embracing these ideas, I am thrilled in knowing that I’ve played some small part in setting this world view in motion in your mind.

Please Comment and Subscribe

I invite you to subscribe to my newsletter using the sign-up form provided at the upper right corner of this web page. As a subscriber you will receive regular email announcements of new essays that I publish or popular essays that i have previously published. In these essays you will have the opportunity to share comments and ideas about a topic. Your security is important to me. Please know that your email address is never distributed to anyone.

You are strongly encouraged to become one of my 11,000+ followers on Twitter. My Twitter ID is @ballenamar .  With Twitter, in addition to receiving daily Tweets that announce my essays, you will see when I retweet something that I read and that I think is important.

A Nature Video Collection: A Web Resource List

A Collection of Nature Videos : A Web Resource List

 

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David Attenborough’s Powerful Goodbye with an urgent and poignant plea to humanity.

http://www.hotnewhiphop.com/watch-sir-david-attenboroughs-powerful-goodbye-on-planet-earth-2-new-video.39310.html?utm_content=buffer5a46f&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer

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Touching The Wild — seeing the world through a wild creature’s eyes. Seeing the character of a wild animal.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ii4Oke8lb6A

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King penguins – David Attenborough: Life in the Freezer. Filmed at South Georgia Island in the Southern Atlantic. An incredible place. I’ve visited twice.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EiQzls8YQcw&list=PL50KW6aT4Ugx9IQrG-Z0r–2W46TP1q0g&index=4

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Ocean animals – leopard seals vs. penguins – David Attenborough – BBC wildlife

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mvB0lmqbL_Q&list=PL50KW6aT4Ugx9IQrG-Z0r–2W46TP1q0g&index=7

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Southern Ocean – Sights and Sounds. My video composite of some of my wildlife encounters in the Southern Ocean during my travels in the Southern Atlantic Ocean

https://vimeo.com/110668135

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Egrets –  In a cruel struggle of the Darwinian sort, baby egrets see who will survive and who will be sacrificed to the alligators that wait below.

http://www.itsnature.org/videos/wild-videos/egrets/

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Jaguar Attacks Caiman Crocodile. With their aquatic skills – and powerful bite – jaguars are able to prey on the crocodile-like caiman. An extraordinary act of such predation was filmed by a tourist in Brazil’s Pantanal.

http://www.pbs.org/video/2365870849/

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The Sagebrush Sea.  It’s been called The Big Empty – an immense sea of sagebrush that once stretched 500,000 square miles across North America. Yet it’s far from empty, as those who look closely will discover. In this ecosystem anchored by the sage, eagles and antelope, badgers and lizards, rabbits, wrens, owls, prairie dogs, songbirds, hawks and migrating birds of all description make their homes.

http://www.pbs.org/video/2365494065/

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Check out “Essay by Edward Abbey “I Loved it…I Loved it All”” by Ned Judge on Vimeo.

“Too many of us everywhere now. That’s the kind of world we live in. Crowded, over crowded. I’m not worried about it. Nature will take care of it in her own sweet way, sooner or later.”

Edward Abbey was a founder of the environmental direct action movement. His life work personally influenced me to be more engaged as a man who loves nature. Ed is unfortunately gone, but our environmental grandfather was wise and left behind some lessons and wit in his usual style. If you are not familiar with Ed and his work, this is a great intro that entertains and inspires. If you already know Ed as the grandfather of the southwest desert, then this video will be a nice treat.

http://vimeo.com/49544042

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A great YouTube video on ant colonies. Ant colonies are leaderless, self-organizing, super-organisms. Many groups like fish schools, bird flocks, and animal herds are self organizing.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vG-QZOTc5_Q&feature=em-subs_digest

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The following videos were produced by nature videographer, Michael Foster, of Bisbee, Arizona. Mike focuses his work on Southwestern, Arizona and Northwestern Mexico.

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Cottonwoods are the largest trees in Arizona. This video, explaining the cottonwood at length is part of an educational series, by the Friends of the San Pedro River. Learn more about how the cottonwood contributes to the ecosystem and protects the San Pedro Riparian Area in this video.T

http://vimeo.com/65847230

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Our River: A Work In Progress

http://vimeo.com/51703496

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Our River of Life, The San Pedro, and why it is so important to preserve.

http://vimeo.com/16718078

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Hydrology of the San Pedro River

http://vimeo.com/39567422

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How Javalina protect their young

http://vimeo.com/86037786

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Ecology of the San Pedro River

http://vimeo.com/71441639

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Beavers Of The San Pedro River

Happy Valentines Day

http://vimeo.com/86710127

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Return of the Beaver to San Pedro River

http://vimeo.com/84733621

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Reintroduction of the Beaver to the San Pedro River of Southeastern Arizona

After a 100 year absence from the San Pedro River of Southeastern Arizona the American Beaver is reintroduced. This video explores the history of the area and how pioneer, mining, military and ranching activities lead to the demise of the beaver presence in the San Pedro River. A thorough investigation of the benefits of the beaver to a riparian area leads to the reintroduction of the beaver in the late 20th century. Lots of excellent footage of beaver dams, dens and habitat. This video is packed with information on social structure, diet and habits of the American Beaver.

http://vimeo.com/16716634

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The Beaver: A keystone Species

This video shows the benefits realized by the reintroduction of the American Beaver to the San Pedro River of Southern Arizona as a keystone species for the improvement of the environment and quality of life for other animals. The video considers the reintroduction of elk and moose in the states of Colorado and New Mexico and how these animals benefit from the presence of the beaver in those areas. Beaver diet and lodges are compared and contrasted in the three states. Video features exceptional footage of many animals and landscapes of the Southwest.

http://vimeo.com/28055044

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Elephant Trees

http://vimeo.com/17510313

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Coati of the San Pedro River

In this video Mike Foster takes us to the world of the rare and elusive coati, once know as the coatimundi. He explains the relationship between the habitat where the coati are found and of Mexico and the tropics where the animal can be found in more abundance. He also discusses the relationship between the coati and its animal relatives as well as the confusion associated with the species and subsequent misnomer of the animal. The video contains delightful and impressive footage of coati in their natural habitat and social environment. Beautiful shots of the San Pedro River Riparian Area, its vegetation and animals. Very informative.

http://vimeo.com/10598306

 

Why Do I Write These Essays?

Nothing in Nature exists in isolation. The movement of life’s energy, which originates in the sun, takes place because everything is interconnected and interdependent. Your consciousness of interdependence in Nature means that, every time you engage Nature, you ask yourself how a creature, a plant, yourself, or a natural object is connected to another and to Nature’s greater scheme of things. With this awareness you are prepared to protect Nature’s environment that sustains you. And, you create your legacy by encouraging others to do likewise.

 

If, after reading my essays, you find yourself embracing these ideas, I am thrilled in knowing that I’ve played some small part in setting this world view in motion in your mind.

 

Please Comment and Subscribe

I invite you to subscribe to my newsletter using the sign-up form provided at the upper right corner of this web page. As a subscriber you will receive regular email announcements of new essays that I publish or popular essays that i have previously published. In these essays you will have the opportunity to share comments and ideas about a topic. Your security is important to me. Please know that your email address is never distributed to anyone.

 

You are strongly encouraged to become one of my 11,000+ followers on Twitter. My Twitter ID is @ballenamar . With Twitter, in addition to receiving daily Tweets that announce my essays, you will see when I retweet something that I read and that I think is important.

 

Bird Flocks Are Airborne Ecosystems – A Video Essay

Each year I set aside some time to observe and photograph the flocks of Sandhill Cranes that migrate to Southeastern Arizona and New Mexico. And, each year I am inspired to share something with you about my experience.

There is some kind of magic in a flock of birds. There is a synchrony of leaderless energy as the group flows through the air going here and then there while changing shapes that respond to some hidden force.

If we were to take a magic ride into a bird flock, we’d find that the movement of any one individual is directed by those neighbors closest to him. A neighbor’s proximity, speed, and direction signals and defines each creature’s movement. These signals move across the time and space of the group. Eyesight, sound, and sometimes pressure sensing nerve bundles are the energy sensors that make up the network of information that informs each individual of its expected position in the next instant of time.

BirdsAreEcosystems-1053These groups of beautifully moving creatures are as much of an ecosystem as a rain forest. Like the forest, bird groups are a biological community of interacting organisms living in their physical environment. There is a unity of energy flow throughout the flock guided by complex energy transportation and transformation networks between individuals. In this case, the physical environment is the flock which moves together in a ballet of flight. When one member leaves the group through death or other reasons, the bio-diverse system of avian community continues to function as if the missing member never existed. This resilience is a key survival strategy of the flock.

The behavior of the Sandhill Cranes extends to their intelligence in flight. I love toBirdsAreEcosystems-0026 watch them land. They are skilled pilots who know how to drop their landing gear and place their bodies in a semi-stall configuration on their final landing approach. I love to watch them turn into the wind and prepare to land with perfect timing and in perfect unison just like a group of aerobatic pilots. How do they learn to fly? Believe it or not, Sandhill parents conduct a flight school for their youngsters as shown in this video.

I want to share with you my passion for the migrating Sandhill Cranes at Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area near McNeal, Arizona. I captured this video during the 2015 and 2016 winter seasons.

 

— “The Sandhills” by Linda Hogan

The language of cranes
we once were told
is the wind. The wind
is their method,
their current, the translated story
of life they write across the sky.
Millions of years
they have blown here
on ancestral longing,
their wings of wide arrival,
necks long, legs stretched out
above strands of earth
where they arrive
with the shine of water,
stories, interminable
language of exchanges
descended from the sky
and then they stand,
earth made only of crane
from bank to bank of the river
as far as you can see
the ancient story made new.

 

Worth Your Extra Attention :

Thanks for reading this blog post.

There is a section in my blog site entitled “Musings”. You can reach it by clicking on the menu tab near the top of my blog site. This area contains my growing list of posts that list web material that I have found interesting. You might stop by an take a look.

Please Comment and Subscribe :

The purpose for these blogs is to develop a dialog between myself and my readers.

I invite you to subscribe to my newsletter using the sign-up form provided at the upper right corner of this web page. As a subscriber you will receive twice-monthly announcements of new blogs that I post. Your security is important to me. Please know that your email address is never distributed to anyone.

 

Visiting My Elders – A Video Essay

One of my favorite spots for engaging Nature is Ironwood Forest National Monument near Tucson, Arizona. In the secluded solitude of this wonderful desert, I am alone listening, observing, and meditating without any human interruption.

As is my daily practice, I sit outside at dawn anticipating the “golden hour” when the Saguaro Cactus glows from the light of the morning dawn and the birds greet the day in song. Thomas Merton calls this the “virgin point” of the day when Nature asks permission to be.

This morning is a bit different. The light is softened by a hazy sky. The colors are much softer and emerge more slowly. The chirping of the birds is much softer. The mood of the desert is serenity instead of glory.

My mood follows the desert’s mood. My attention is not focused on changing light. Instead, I think in more holistic terms – meditating about how things are interrelated.

With holistic serenity replacing anticipation, I see things differently. All of a sudden, a pair of elders pop into my view. Of course, they had been there all along but my mental filter mechanism was accustomed to the glory of changing colors and not the majesty of two big elderly plants. But there they were only 25 feet away as if hovering over me. I was shocked that I had never sensed them before.

One of the elders is a large Sahuaro Cactus with big arms reaching for the sky. The cactus is embraced by its elder, a large Palo Fierro (an Ironwood Tree). Their sizes suggest that they have both been around for a very long time. Most likely they had been connected in their embrace for over a hundred years. Way back when, the Palo Fierro acted as a nursery plant by sheltering and nurturing the cactus seedling from the elements – allowing the cactus to grow in a protected and fertile environment. These elders are rooted in between two gravel stream beds. Connections between Palo Fierro, other nursery plants, the Sahuaro Cactus, and a stream bed are common.

I wrote about nursery plants in a previous post . John Phillips was good enough to comment and I repeat his remarks here. John says it far better than I am able.

“I worked as the Grounds Curator for Tohono Chul Park in 1987, and the pattern you refer to is evident for many of the saguaro growing there too. From a permaculture point of view, this pattern is a natural plant guild system. The nursery trees are all legumes which fix nitrogen, and they are deciduous, dropping their nutrient rich leaves as mulch. This creates enhanced conditions for the saguaro seeds, which may be dropped by birds that feed on the saguaro fruit and use the trees as a roost. In the case of the palo verde and mesquite, when the trees die back, they release nutrients to the saguaro, often at the point when the saguaro is experiencing its greatest growth rate. It’s all an example of the environment being holocenotic: everything in it influences and is influenced by everything in it.”

In the evening, the elders bid me a good night with an incredible display. The moon has just risen from behind my camera giving the pair a soft glow. Behind these massive plants, the last faint remnant of a setting sun defines their halo. And surrounding us all, the universe looks down upon us offering a reminder that each of us is a small piece in a giant interdependent pattern where we are all connected.

Ironwood/Sahuaro Pair At Night

Thanks for reading this blog post. The purpose for these blogs is to develop a dialog between myself and my readers. You are encouraged to offer your comments in the space provided below.

I invite you to subscribe to my newsletter using the sign-up form provided at the upper right corner of this web page. As a subscriber you will receive twice-monthly announcements of new blogs that I post. Your security is important to me. Please know that your email address is never distributed to anyone.

Sights And Sounds In The Southern Ocean – A video collection

While it is fun to write about patterns in Nature, it is a lot more fun to experience them directly. Since it is physically impossible for me to transport you to some of my favorite places, through the magic of my videos I can share some of the sights and sounds that I have experienced.  Here is a 9 minute video of creatures and their sounds that I encountered while visiting South Georgia Island and the Falkland Islands in the Southern Atlantic Ocean. Below the video there are explanations for each clip.

 

 

At South Georgia Island in 2007:

  • A Southern Elephant Seal bull courting a female in his harem. He has fought for the privilege of having this harem but will probably only be able to hold this status for one season. His harem can be as many as 60 females. A true seal has no external ear pinnae, cannot place its hind flippers under its body, and cannot walk on all four flippers. On land, it gets around by waddling forward like a very fat and ungraceful glob. Underwater, it is the epitomy of grace.Two juvenile males practicing territorial defense for the time when they might have the opportunity to acquire a harem. Not all bulls end up with a harem.A bull displaying his full body. Despite their size, these guys can move quickly. Kathleen would “watch my back” as I moved in on my belly close enough to get video. In their zeal to fight or mate, pups are regularly crushed. An elephant seal colony is a pretty messy, noisy, and smelly place.A bull with a badly torn proboscis caused by a fight with another male.A young mother with her new born pup. Skuas (a predatory gull-like bird) are waiting for her to expel her placenta. That placenta, when expelled, vanishes in less than 30 seconds as a mass of Skuas consume it.
  • Southern Fur Seal bulls. Unlike the elephant seal, fur seals are really like sea lions. They have external ear pinnae, relatively long and muscular fore flippers, and the ability to walk on all four flippers. These polygamous guys are very aggressive and territorial as their testosterone levels increase. Two weeks after this footage was recorded, the beach was full of fur seal bulls defending their turf as they bred. These bulls will attack human visitors. The defense is to carry a hiking stick and point it directly at the nose of an attacking bull. It works. Kathleen mounted a successful defense when two bulls came after her at the same time. One might argue that these guys wanted her around — she’s really cute. But, the sad truth is that anthropomorphism is not cool and they really wanted her to get lost.
  • A large King Penguin colony at St. Andrew’s Bay. One is overwhelmed by both the massive amount of life and the vaulting beauty of this place. St. Andrews is my favorite place. It is where I can absorb the enormity of sight and sound, life and death. St. Andrews is where my soul is truly alive and where I feel close to God
  • King penguins walking the beach. They are very curious and unafraid. This was shot as I lay on my belly. If one keeps lower than the animal, some amazing photography is possible.
  • Young King Penguins. The British call them “Oakum Boys”because their coat looks like the oakum calking used on old ships.
  • King Penguins communicating. If you just sit and listen, it is apparent that there is a definite sequence of calls from different groups in the colony.
  • Kings coming ashore after surviving Leopard Seals lurking near the shore. Once in a while, a bloodied penguin emerges. He/she will not survive the next swim in the cold water since the insulating coat of feathers is damaged. We visitors learn not to interfere and let both life and death take its natural course.

At the Falkland Islands in 2007:

  • A Gentoo Penguin with an egg. Skuas and Cara Cara (a raptor) are always present trying to steal eggs and chicks. The pressure on the parents is enormous.
  • Another Gentoo with two chicks. One chick will probably not survive.
  • Rock Hopper penguins. We saw a Skua fly away with an egg as I took this footage.
  • Giant Petrel courting. Huge birds who are clumsy on the ground and graceful in the air.
  • A Black Browed Albatross nesting colony. These guys were very common off the stern of the ship when we were underway.

At Prion Island — South Georgia in 2004:

  • A male Wandering Albatross making a nest. The female will arrive once the nest is completed. These gliding birds have an 11 foot wingspan and are known to circumnavigate the globe while rarely touching down. They keep going by catching fish during their long travels. They are common drowning victims of long line fishing boats as they try to snag the bait on the hook. A dead adult Wandering Albatross means both he/she and the chick are dead because the adult can not then come back to feed the chick.
  • A Wandering Albatross juvenile learning to fly. These huge juveniles take a year to gain strength for their maiden flight. Their parents feed them until the last few months at which time the kid must fare for him/her self and get to sea to feed on its own.

For Your Further Consideration

 
This essay is part of a series of essays that present ideas to environmental educators and all stewards of Nature about ecoliteracy and legacy.   The emphasis is on two key ideas:
 
  1. Our earth is a living system that transports and transforms energy. The key to an active ecoliteracy that results in a healthy environment for all life on earth is the building of a systems view of life into the minds and hearts of humanity, This worldview includes the fact that all of Nature is interconnected and interdependent.
  2. Environmental education is not simply offering facts. Environmental education must be hands-on and place-based if ideas, facts, and effective conservation strategies are to become a consciousness in the minds and hearts of our youth. Environmental education must include the the passing of this consciousness to future generations.
 

Why Do I Write These Essays?

 
Nothing in Nature exists in isolation. The movement of life’s energy, which originates in the sun, takes place because everything is interconnected and interdependent. Your consciousness of interdependence in Nature means that, every time you engage Nature, you ask yourself how a creature, a plant, yourself,  or a natural object is connected to another and to Nature’s greater scheme of things. With this awareness you are prepared to protect Nature’s environment that sustains you. And, you create your legacy by encouraging others to do likewise.
If, after reading my essays, you find yourself embracing these ideas, I am thrilled in knowing that I’ve played some small part in setting this world view in motion in your mind.

Please Comment and Subscribe

I invite you to subscribe to my newsletter using the sign-up form provided at the upper right corner of this web page. As a subscriber you will receive regular email announcements of new essays that I publish or popular essays that i have previously published. In these essays you will have the opportunity to share comments and ideas about a topic. Your security is important to me. Please know that your email address is never distributed to anyone.
You are strongly encouraged to become one of my 11,000+ followers on Twitter. My Twitter ID is @ballenamar .  With Twitter, in addition to receiving daily Tweets that announce my essays, you will see when I retweet something that I read and that I think is important.

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