Milo Burcham Photography


Milo's Favorite 50 of 2015

The year of the bear?
Well, if the number of photos that appear in my favorite 50 images of the year is any indication, perhaps
it was. While I did get to photograph Brown Bears close to home this year, it was trips to McNeil River
for Brown Bears, and to Alaska’s arctic for Polar Bears that were the real highlights.

For the second year in a row, winter in southcentral Alaska left something to be desired, with abnormally
warm temperatures and little snow. We took no big trips this year so most of my favorite images are from
in-state… not a bad thing when you live in Alaska.

We found this flock of Rock Sandpipers while heading out fishing in January.
An interesting side note to this picture is that there was a single Red Knot in the flock,
which was just the third winter record for the species in Alaska. A sliver of the Red Knot can
be seen at the very top of this image

Rock Sandpipers (B_ROSA_0047)

A trip to Hatcher Pass provided a glimpse of winter, and some nice views
of White-tailed Ptarmigan

White-tailed Ptarmigan (B_WTPT_0009)

Skating at Sheridan Glacier (R_ICSK_0258)

We were teased by some fleeting snow events in Cordova, but they did not last.

Varied Thrush (B_VATH_0039)

Ria Smyke, the daughter of one of my Cordova friends, has taken an interest in photography.
On one outing, I was able to demonstrate an important wildlife photography lesson for her: by being
patient and just hanging out with wildlife, eventually, cool sh&t happens...and it did!
We waited over an hour in the cold before this sleeping Sea Otter finally gave us some wonderful poses.

Sea Otter in snowstorm (M_SEOT_0474)

Sea Otter stretching (M_SEOT_0489)

Running. Sliding. Running. Sliding. River Otters have too much fun!

River Otter tracks on Copper River sand bar (M_RIVO_0010)

Steller's Jay (B_STJA_0020)

My favorite image of 2015!
The light, the action, and the "luck" of everything lining up in this frame really makes it for me.
Over 100 Trumpeter Swans staged on this pond for several weeks, signaling the arrival of spring.

Trumpeter Swan scuffle (B_TRSW_0345)

Porcupine (M_PORC_0016)

...and once again, our shorebird migration.

Western Sandpipers (B_SBFL_0650)

Red Knots taking flight (B_REKN_0079)

Dunlin foraging on Copper River Delta (B_DUNL_0090)

Semipalmated Sandpiper (B_SESA_0020)

Red Knots on Copper River Delta (B_REKN_0092)

Roosting flock of Western Sandpipers (B_SBFL_0711)

Dunlin among Western Sandpipers (B_SBFL_0723)

Whimbrels (B_WHIM_0061)

Wildlife can be found throughout the city of Anchorage. I had several trips
to the "big city" last summer, and while waiting for friends to have their baby,
I found many wild birds and mammals busy having their own!

Bald Eagle with chick in nest (B_BAEA_0397)

Moose with calf (M_MOOS_0816)

Moose with calf (M_MOOS_0821)

Golden-crowned Sparrow and bee (B_GCSP_0021)

Sandhill Crane (B_SHCR_0052)

Greater Yellowlegs (B_GRYE_0028)

Brown Bear fishing in rainforest (M_BRBE_0960)

Brown Bear (M_BRBE_0966)

Bald Eagle with Pink Salmon (B_BAEA_0402)

Paula and I had the good luck of getting drawn for a permit to visit the McNeil River State Game
Sanctuary in August. One of the premiere bear viewing opportunities in the world. Our encounters with bears
made some of our favorite memories of this past year, and some of my favorite photographs as well.

Bald Eagle over McNeil River Lagoon (L_AKPE_0003)

Brown Bear (M_BRBE_1025)

Brown Bear cubs wrestling (M_BRBE_1055)

Sometimes, you just can't make this sh&t up! As if the two cubs wrestling was not enough,
one of the cubs climbed to a grassy bench, picked up a Bald Eagle's feather, and began playing with it!
This went on for several minutes, with the little cub falling over backwards several times, only to get up and
continue playing. We could not believe our eyes!

Brown Bear cub playing with Bald Eagle feather (M_BRBE_1075)

Brown Bear on beach of McNeil River Lagoon (M_BRBE_1107)

Brown Bear with cub on McNeil River at sunset (M_BRBE_1136)

Brown Bear cub (M_BRBE_1160)

Brown Bear and Augustine Volcano at sunset (M_BRBE_1165)

Bull Moose in birch forest (M_MOOS_0883)

Bull Moose (M_MOOS_0892)

I was presented another opportunity to view bears in late September, this time however, it was to
see Polar Bears. A portfolio of Alaska wildlife would not be complete without this species, and although the opportunity was
not cheap, seeing Polar Bears gathering, as they waited for the Beaufort Sea to freeze for winter, made it worthwhile.

Polar Bear (M_POBE_0011)

Polar Bear shaking off snow in high winds (M_POBE_0029)

Polar Bear (M_POBE_0053)

Polar Bears sparring (M_POBE_0060)

Polar Bears sparring (M_POBE_0063)

Polar Bear (M_POBE_0193)

Polar Bear shaking (M_POBE_0230)

Polar Bear (M_POBE_0241)

We made a brief and unexpected trip to Florida after the passing of Paula's stepfather.

Limpkin with Applesnail (B_LIMP_0043)

Gopher Tortoise (H_TURT_0042)

Rough Green Snake (H_SNAK_0064)

One of the favorite things about our house in Cordova is getting to
see northern lights right from our bedroom window.

Aurora from our backyard! (L_NOLI_0054)

And one final splash of color from 2015: Desert Bighorns from Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada

Desert Bighorn ewes (M_DEBH_S2E9615)

These images were presented in roughly the chronological order that they were made throughout the
year. As with all my photography, these are the scenes as they looked through my viewfinder; no content,
not a single blade of grass or twig, was digitally added or subtracted.

Wishing everyone excellent adventure in 2016.