Hal Brindley wildlife photographer

Where the Hal Have You Been?

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One year.
 Nine countries.
 No house.
 No job. Pretty freakin sweet.

Gee, it’s been a long time since I did a photo story update on my site. Some of you may be wondering what the heck happened to me? All kinds of cool stuff. Here are a couple quick highlights from my life on the road.

It all started back in Charlottesville, Virginia…

I was still living in Virginia when I took my epic journey to Alaska. Since I haven’t posted a story about it yet I thought I’d throw in a couple shots for you.

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Alaska, USA
1) Brown Bear, Mc Neil River Sanctuary
2) Pacific Walrus, Round Island
3) Northern Sea Otter, Kachemak Bay
4) Moose, captive, Portage Glacier
5) Horned Puffin, Round Island

I owned a great little building in Charlottesville. I had my apartment upstairs and my gallery downstairs. But it just wasn’t making sense for me financially. (I was going broke.) I knew I had to get back to life on the road. I sold it at the end of 2006 and became happily homeless and funemployed.

Since then I have set foot in Bermuda, Brazil, Honduras, Panama, the British Virgin Islands, Costa Rica, Canada, Mexico and the United States of America. Most of them were not wildlife photo journeys. (In fact, I didn’t take a single photo in Canada.) But I did get a few pictures of critters along the way.

My first stop after selling the gallery was Bermuda…

I took Catey there for her birthday. We spent 3 days and a fortune. It’s not really the kind of place where unemployed people hang around. In fact it is one of the richest countries in the world (second highest Gross National Income per capita in the world after Luxembourg).

It was beautiful but I didn’t see much wildlife. The only animal I photographed (other than Catey) was this dead crab. Oh yeah, Catey did see a big shark while we were snorkeling.

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Then, a few days after we got back, I took off for Brazil …

I went to Brazil with a bird researcher named Audrey. She needed an assistant for a satellite tracking study of Swallow-tailed Kites near the Pantanal in Brazil. The trip was fully paid for. I knew nothing about climbing palm trees or putting tiny backpacks on baby birds. I was essentially a high paid escort and that was OK by me.
It may sound glamorous, but in reality I spent three weeks wandering around cattle ranches in the blasting sun and hacking through impenetrable swamps in knee deep water with a machete that I found in a field. On one occasion I even chopped a hole in my own leg.

Thankfully we did get to spend a couple days in the Pantanal, the largest wetland area in the world. That’s where I shot most of my wildlife pics from this trip.

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Brazil
1) Capybara, the largest rodent in the world! Pantanal
2) Burrowing Owl, Barra do Bugres
3) Giant Otter, Rio Claro, Pantanal
4) Guira Cuckoo with frog. Pantanal
5) Southern Tamandua. Pantanal
6) Greater Rhea near Barra do Bugres

I returned from Brazil on Christmas day. Two weeks later I was on a plane to Honduras with a guy named Kevin. He payed for my flight and in exchange I would help him build a school for his non-profit. That was the premise.

In fact I was once again just a high paid escort. Although I did work my butt off building a school for a couple weeks, we spent the next two weeks lounging around tropical islands and hiking remote jungles with Swedish nurses.

Highlights included scuba diving off Utila, riding in dugout canoes through the Moskito coast and receiving an honorary spoon for helping to build a community school.

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Honduras
1) A bird in Yamari Pine Savanna, Moskito Coast
2) Bat drinking nectar from a hummingbird feeder, Utila
3) Scarlet Macaw. Copan
4) The ancient Maya ruins of Copan
5) The school we built in two weeks
6) Anna and Sofie, the sweetest Swedes
7) a tiny frog on the Rio Platano, Moskito Coast
8) a strange bee hive formation. Copan
9) Agouti. Copan

While in Honduras I received an e-mail from Rare. They wanted me to go to Panama to shoot some photos for the Nature Conservancy Magazine. This was a huge deal for me. A real assignment shoot. Paid travel, a magazine article, doing good for the world, the whole nine yards. So instead of returning home (well actually I had no home, I was homeless remember) I got on another plane and flew to Panama. There I spent a week in a rural farming community high in the mountains, photographing a man named Luis who’s spanish I could barely understand.

He was managing a Pride Campaign for Rare, helping to preserve the fragile and incredible ecosystems in western Panama. Taking photos of wild animals is tricky but I think photographing humans is infinitely more difficult.

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Panama
1) Owl Butterfly feeding on old banana
2) Resplendent Quetzal, Guadalupe
3) Walking Stick insect, La Amistad
4) Tigrillo, taken captive for eating chickens, Guadalupe
(ironically now being fed chicken in captivity)
5) Kids in remote coffee plantation community

Two weeks after returning home from Panama I traipsed off to the British Virgin Islands. I spent a week camping on the beach. Snorkeling and rock scrambling all day, drinking local rum at night. Then I met up with my friend Peter and three of his work buddies. Together we chartered a 42 foot sailboat and cruised around the islands for a week. I got pretty addicted to sailboat-living in the Caribbean. This was also the first time I got to swim with sea turtles!

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British Virgin Islands
1) Green Turtle, Anegada
2) Brown Pelican , Tortola
3) Dog playing with crab, Tortola
4) Snubnose Pompano
5) lizard, Tortola
6) Brown Booby, Tortola
7) the view from my tent, Tortola
8) Tarpon, Tortola
9) Turk’s Head Cactus, Tortola
10) my crew-mates on the Caballito de Mar

When I came home from the BVI’s, Catey quit her job and moved out of her house. We became homeless together. We visited our families and then we went to Costa Rica for a month. My good friend Mike came along and we even met up with Anna and Sofie (the Swedes). Everything was going peachy until we got robbed. That was on day two. Someone broke into our car and took all of my camera gear and all of Catey’s luggage. She was left with only the clothes on her back and the few small items in her handbag. Try to imagine surviving in a Central American country for a month with nothing but what you are wearing. Needless to say, this was a difficult beginning. We had many challenging adventures in Costa Rica but none more challenging than attempting to find women’s underwear that fit. After two weeks we parted ways with Mike and the swedes and we spent the remaining two weeks climbing volcanoes and looking for critters in the jungle. Here are a couple snapshots I took with Catey’s little camera .

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Costa Rica
1) Red-eyed Tree Frog, the symbol of Costa Rica
2) a cool Katydid, Rincon de la Vieja
3) Catey at a waterfall
4) a moth on the wall of our hotel

Once we arrived back in the U.S. we began a series of roadtrips.

The first was a jaunt up to Nova Scotia, Canada. But as I said, I didn’t have a camera. Not that it would have made any difference. We spent most of the time watching a woman breastfeed. (Catey’s cousin had a new baby.)
Eventually I ordered some new gear and we headed westward. Another roadtrip took us down into the Baja peninsula in Mexico. We ate Thanksgiving dinner along the Sea of Cortez. Here are a couple shots from that journey. We didn’t stay long and it merely whet my appetite for Baja. I’m sure I’ll be going back soon.

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Mexico
1) Catey and Bear at low tide in the Sea of Cortez
2) Prairie Falcon (Falco mexicanus) on a Saguaro cactus
3) A really empty place. Mudflats on the Rio Colorado
4) dead dolphin near San Felipe

Mainly we saw a lot of cool stuff crossing this grand country of ours, the good ol’ U.S. of A…

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USA
1) Ground squirrel, Rocky Mountain Nat’l Park, Colorado
2) Red-tail Hawk & Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, California
3) Pronghorn, Antelope Island St Park, Utah
4) White Pelicans, Corte Madera, California
5) Catey and Ocotillo, Joshua Tree Nat’l Park, California
6) Sea Lion, Pier 39 San Francisco, California
7) Elk (behind a hill), Rocky Mt Nat Park, Colorado
8) Desert Cottontail, Red Fleet St Park, Utah
9) Cooper’s Hawk, Dinosaur National Monument, Colorado
10) Me laying in a bed of dead fish on the shores of the Salton Sea, California

Which eventually landed us in California. Catey took a short term job in the National Park outside San Francisco and we rented a small studio apartment in Mill Valley. It’s been a blast living here. If I ever get filthy rich I might live here again. There are so many beautiful places and creatures. But I’ll be heading back east in a couple weeks to work on a long time dream of mine. It’s called Dodo Films. (You’ll be hearing more about that soon.)
And so the adventure continues.

I hope you enjoyed this little photo album from my year on the road!

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