David Cothran@davidcothranphoto

Naturalist and photography instructor with Lindblad Expeditions/National Geographic. Currently at home in Oregon.


A Cuban (Crescent-eyed) Peewee (Contopus caribaeus) perches on a wire fence as it waits to grab the next passing insect. Peewees are small flycatchers in the family Tyrannidae. Like most of their relatives, they catch insects in the style known as sallying - they sit still on an open perch, watch for approaching prey insects and make short, fast flights to capture them. Other insectivorous birds use a number of different behaviors to accomplish the same task, like the swallows and swifts that hawk their prey on the wing. The Cuban Peewee is not quite endemic to Cuba - it's also found on a couple of islands in the southern Bahamas. Previously it was lumped with the Hispaniolan Peewee (C. hispaniolensis) and the Jamaican Peewee (C. pallidus) as the Greater Antillean Peewee. Will it be split from its cousins in the Bahamas and become another true Cuban endemic? Stay tuned!
#lindbladexpeditions #natgeoexpeditions #cuba #flycatcher #endemic


An adult female orangutan moves through the forest with her infant offspring in Tanjung Puting National Park, in the Indonesian province of Kalimantan, southern Borneo. Orangutans spend the great majority of their lives up in the mid-story level of the rainforests of Sumatra and Borneo, an arboreal habitat of smooth tree trunks and small branches like few other places on Earth. Their long, powerful limbs and the enormous grip strength of both their hands and feet make them superbly adapted to this vertical world. This infant will spend the first few months of its life clinging tightly to its mothers fur, but it is already instinctively reaching out for its own grip on passing branches.
#lindbladexpeditions #natgeoexpeditions #orangutan #borneo #kalimantantengah


Sunset light and shadow on an enormous iceberg in the Weddell Sea. This berg and thousands of others like it were born from the collapse of the Larsen B iceshelf in 2002. For about five years following the disintegration of this floating glacier, which was about the size of the state of Rhode Island, the northwest Weddell Sea and the waters surrounding South Georgia were full of huge bergs that are now gone. Very recently the Larsen C, a little further South down the east side of the Antarctic Peninsula, has begun to break up as well. It is nearly 15 times the size of the Larsen B and if its collapse follows the pattern of its northern neighbor it will precipitate an even more dramatic period of spectacular bergs. Even climate disaster can create new kinds of beauty - small comfort, but I won't turn my back on it!
#lindbladexpeditions #natgeoexpeditions #antarctica #iceberg #climatechange


A Light-mantled Albatross (Phoebetria palpebrata) stands on its nesting ledge at the brow of a cliff above Gold Harbor on the island of South Georgia. The Light-mantled Albatross and its cousin the Sooty Albatross are the only members of the genus Phoebetria, which is the smallest of the four distinct groups within the Albatross family. The other three groups are the great albatrosses, which includes the Wandering Albatross, the mollymawks, such as the Black-browsed Albatross, and the North Pacific Albatrosses, including the Laysan Albatross. Peter Hillary like to call the sleek, aerobatic Light-mantled Albatross the Ferraris of the seabird world, a very apt description of these elegant birds.
#lindbladexpeditions #natgeoexpeditions #antarctic #albatross #seabird


Two King Penguins (Aptenodytes patagonicus) at Fortuna Bay on South Georgia. The individual in the foreground has normal coloration but the one behind is melanistic, a very rare mutation which causes feathers that would ordinarily be white to be pigmented with melanin, making them solid black. I have been visiting South Georgia for 12 years now and I have seen three melanistic birds in that time. Considering how many penguins I've seen there, I'd say that this makes their frequency definitely less than one out of a million! The genes that cause this are probably the homeobox genes, extremely ancient sequences of DNA that control body shape and coloration in virtually all higher forms of life, including animals, plants and fungi!
#lindbladexpeditions #natgeoexpeditions #penguin #antarctic #mutation


An American Flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber) wades through shallow water looking for prey on Floreana Island in the Galápagos Islands, Ecuador. These birds are given quite a few different names in the various places where they occur, including Caribbean, Chilean, Galapagos and even Greater Flamingo, even though they have been separated from this latter species by most ornithologists for some time. The population in the Galapagos is quite isolated, so I might go with Galapagos Flamingo, but I'm an inveterate splitter, so this opinion might be pushing the limits. The Flamingo's tongue is a marvelous appendage, beautifully adapted for their strange habit of foraging with their heads upside down! If you are interested in this idea and lots of other fascinating natural history tidbits, I heartily recommend Steven J. Gould's book "The Flamingo's Tongue". A little dated perhaps, but still a great read.
#lindbladexpeditions #natgeoexpeditions #galapagos #flamingo #evolution


The National Geographic Explorer sits at anchor, very close to shore at Paulet Island in the Weddell Sea, not far east of the Antarctic Peninsula. Our captains use a technique called "riding the anchor" to keep the ship perfectly stable on shallow anchorages like this one, which means that we have very short rides ashore and more time for exploration when we get there. Paulet was the site where the crew of the ship 'Antarctic' over-wintered after their vessel was crushed in the pack ice during the Swedish Antarctic Expedition of 1902-03, an adventure that remains one of the greatest stories of heroism and survival in the annals of Antarctic exploration.
#lindbladexpeditions #natgeoexpeditions #antarctica #natgeoexplorer #reflection


A Magellanic Snipe (Gallinago magellanica) pauses to have a look at me while foraging in a grassy field. This bird is considered by many to be a sub-species of the South American Snipe (G. paraguaiae), but my feeling is that they are isolated enough out in the Falkland Islands that they make the grade as a species of their own. Snipe are members of the Family Scolopacidae, the sandpipers and their relatives. During their recent evolution they have moved to inland habitats, finding their long bills well adapted for seeking insect prey in grass and leaves. This individual was photographed on Carcass Island in the western part of the Falklands archipelago, a favorite spot for visiting birders.
#lindbladexpeditions #natgeotravel #falklands #shorebirds #feathers


A male Southern Elephant Seal (Mirounga leonina) bellows as he moves down the beach and into the surf at Gold Harbor on South Georgia. Southern Elephant Seals come ashore to breed each year on islands throughout the sub-Antarctic, but they don't stay there long. They are really residents of the open ocean, making journeys of thousands of miles to their feeding grounds, far from any shore. Once there, for months on end, they make one dive after another to reach the deep-dwelling squid that are their primary prey - in fact, they spend much more time at depth than they do at the surface! These amazing animals cover so many miles through the ocean that they are now being used as living instrument platforms by oceanographers. A small data collection device attached to the seal can record huge amounts of information in places and at depths that would otherwise be inaccessible to scientists.
#lindbladexpeditions #natgeoexpeditions #antarctica #elephantseals #marinebiology


Another repost (slightly re-processed), from a while back. In fact, this is one of the first images I ever posted to IG, over two years ago. I've only been steadily active on my account for about one year, so I thought this one deserved a second appearance. It was shot in Baffin Bay, close to the east coast of Baffin Island, during an Epic 80 trip to Ellesmere Island, when I was helping out with the social media feed from the trip. Here's the original caption, with the scientific name added (I was a lot less wordy with my posts back then!): A Northern Fulmar (Fulmarus glacialis) glides over glassy water, leaving just a whisper of a wake.
#lindbladexpeditions #NatGeoExpeditions #arctic #birdinflightphotography #seabird


A small iceberg floats in the sunset reflection, in front of Ilulisat on the west coast of Greenland at 69°13'N - about 320 miles north of the Arctic Circle. Ilulisat is the Greenlandic (Kalaallisut) word for icebergs, a very apt name for the town since it lies just around the corner from Diska Bay and the Ilulisat Icefjord. At the head of the fjord is the Jakobshavn Isbræ Glacier which is the most active in the Northern Hemisphere. The icebergs it calves are absolutely incredible - some of them are over three thousand feet tall - the size of El Capitan in Yosemite!
#lindbladexpeditions #natgeotravel #greenland #iceberg #reflections


A mother Polar Bear (Ursus maritimus) and her nearly grown cub stand together on the sea ice off Baffin Island in the Canadian Arctic. This cub is probably about 2 1/2 years old. Very soon it's mother will drive it off to begin its own solitary life in the Arctic wilderness. And this female must be a great mother. She was raising two cubs this size (the other is nearby, out of the frame) and all three look very healthy. She is in great condition, but not young - the scars on her nose, probably from ice during rough encounters with seals, indicate that she is a very experienced hunter.
#lindbladexpeditions #NatGeoExpeditions #arctic #polarbear #canada