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Photographer’s Journal

Every summer when Jay Mahoney returns to Rye, he heads to Edith Read Sanctuary and many other neighboring natural areas, camera in hand, to capture the extraordinary wildlife. On his most recent visit, the avian population came out to give him a wing up.

Photographer’s Journal

By JoAnn Cancro

Photography has taken me lots of places, none so far as the very southern State of Kerala, India, which has a population of 33.4 million and no traffic lights. Crossing the street was beyond challenging. Most times I gave up. The roads are clogged with motorbikes (with whole families on them at once and the women riding side-saddle in their saris), elephants, buses, trucks, cabs, tuk-tuks, cars, bicycles, and more.

India is an enigma. Home to over 1,326,570,000 people, India has more unemployed Ph.D.’s than any other country in the world.

We started in the old British-settled city of Fort Cochi, where ancient Chinese fishing nets dominate the Arabian Sea landscape and are still operated the same way. Strikingly large, supported by tree trunks, and raised and lowered with boulders and men hanging onto the massive roping. No winches, no motors….

While in Cochi, I had my laundry done and marveled at the method — beaten on rocks and bleached in the sun. Laundry was never pressed so perfectly nor folded so small.

Leaving the port city, we traveled to the mountainous and incredibly steep tea plantations of Munnar (where we escaped the intense humidity). There, women prune and collect tea leaves and carry 70- to 100-pound bags of tea on their heads in the mountains to be weighed each morning and again in the afternoon. Roughly 16,000 people are employed in the tea trade just in this region.

A bonus was traveling the backwaters and lagoons to Vembanad Lake and Allappey Town, where we stayed on houseboats. In the high season, over 3,000 houseboats compete for space, but I recommend it off-season.

In Kerala, a surprising number of faiths live peaceably side-by-side. Churches, synagogues, shrines, and temples dot the landscape and people pray in public. I loved seeing that.

Among the facts I picked up: Curry is the term for ‘seasoning’ of food and vegetables. It is not the aroma we associate with curry in the U.S. India has 600 varieties of bananas, 40 varieties of mangos, and is rich in the production of cardamom, pepper, coffee, tea, sandalwood, and gems.

By Jay Mahoney

In late January, I headed off for a two-week photo safari in Tanzania. This is the time of the year when the rain comes to the southern Serengeti Plain, and because the grass starts to grow herds of wildebeest and zebras migrate into the area to give birth. There can be up to 2 million wildebeest and 100,000 zebras.

We spent a week in the Ndutu wildlife area, the center of the migration. The many cheetah families in the area provided amazing photographic opportunities. Lions were also in abundance.

From there we traveled north to Serengeti National Park, where we had the opportunity to see more leopards.

After a few days, we headed to the Ngorongoro Crater, a vast and beautiful location that is home to many species of wildlife.

Todd Gustafson, a remarkable photographer, put the trip together. A special, which he put together and wrote the music for, will be aired on PBS later this year. Melissa Groo was the other lead photographer. She won the Audubon photo contest two years ago and is being honored next month by Greenwich Audubon for all of her work in wildlife conservation.