Program Meeting – A Harlequin Romance

May 8, 2017 @ 7:30 pm – 9:00 pm
UM Gallagher Building, room L14
Susie Wall


Sub-title: 25 years of Leaky Waders

Join professional photographer and biologist John Ashley as he follows Montana’s mysterious harlequin ducks through their annual cycle, from coastal salt water habitats to Montana’s mountain streams and back again to the ocean. Where do “Montana’s” harlequins spend the rest of their lives when they’re not nesting here? How do breeding adults know where Montana is at? How do juvenile harlequins born in Montana know where the coast is at? How do pairs find each other when they reunite on the coast? And how did we learn what we know about this rare and secretive native duck? We’ll explore all of these questions and more through story-telling with 25 years’ worth of video and photos, a soggy set of waders and a dry sense of humor.

In 1977, John’s grandmother gave him $200 to start his college fund. Instead, John used the money to buy his first 35mm camera, and then he used the camera to put himself through college. He earned a biology degree from the University of Montana, and became an award-winning photojournalist at newspapers in Florida and Montana. But the frantic, deadline-driven lifestyle lost out to the more humble call of the natural world. Along this path, John worked as a field biologist for many years, working to conserve California Condors, Bald Eagles, and his favorite—Harlequin Ducks.

John completed the circle by combining both of his passions—photography and conservation—in the form of fine art photography. Through his lens, John hopes to remind you of the natural beauty and humor that is inherent in wild places and wild critters. He lives with his wife and business partner, Tracy, and their two dogs at the end of the road, just a little ways past the “town” of Kila, in northwestern Montana.


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