Latest News

Recent news and updates from Michael Ellis.

July, 2018


June 23, 2018

Hello all:

I am in Brazil right now leading a trip to the Cerrado ecosystem, the Pantanal, and the southern Amazon basin. We are planning on seeing Jaguars, capybaras, caimans galore, hyacinth macaws, armadillos, giant tegu lizards, jabarou storks, giant anteaters, tapirs, and more birds than you can possibly imagine. And this is what I see nearly every single time. I’ve already got two trips scheduled for June/July 2019. If you are interested let me know.

Footloose Forays update: There is no room in either Farallon Island trip. There is a little room left in the Natural History/Natural Mystery outing in September in Western Sonoma County at The Cedars Preserve. Ecuador in January 2019 is wait list only. There are two trips to Tanzania in February. The first one is nearly full but the second one has plenty of room at this point.

 2018 continues to be quite a whirlwind of  travel for me. I just got back from a trip to Tanzania. It was delightful to go at a different time of year. We really had superb sightings and I put together a little video 10 minutes long about our recent trip. This was for a wonderful family – three generations – that I have done a half a dozen trips with. They are a lot of fun.  This will give you a good sense of what a Safari to Tanzania is like with Footloose Forays.

My most recent KQED NPR Perspective–which played last week–was on raccoons! And  just yesterday a raccoon tried to crawl in my open window at 5 am. Geez.

So you think you know yourself? Well this article in Scientific American clearly says you don’t. You only know how you would like to be, not how you are.

Art from the DiRosa Gallery
My favorite tree in the world is the Baobab. And many are dying suddenly after thousands of years.

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.”
– Steve JobsSperm goes into egg, egg becomes human being. The miracle of life is portrayed here in a most amazing way. I have no idea how they did it.Highway to Hell Grandma.

A great TED talk on communication.

True facts about armadillos!!

It is hard to have a favorite woodpecker but these guys are super cool.

I thought I knew all about Daddy long legs

And here’s the New York Times on trees.

 Why you should stop being so hard on yourself.  I wish I could learn that.

How this very wily creature conquered North America.

We are all on a journey and here is something from one of my favorite poets. Blessings to everyone.


August, 2017

July 29th, 2017
Hello everyone,

Business first: both Farallon Island trips in August are full, Natural History/Natural Mystery at The Cedars in September is full, one of the Tanzania trips in February 2018 has one opening for two people and that’s it, Bhutan in April (ask me for the details) has only a few spots left, next summer’s Brazil trip filled immediately and is wait list only.

I just returned from a month in Brazil – the Pantanal, the Amazon and the Cerrado. I had the pleasure of seeing a number of outstanding things – giant anteaters, nearly a dozen different jaguars, an ocelot, a probable marguay, my first jaguarundi, so many capybaras, several tapirs (South America’s largest land mammal), armadillos, tamanduas (southern anteaters), crab eating raccoons, kinkajou, crab eating foxes, coatis, giant river otters, neotropical otters, two different species of deer, agoutis, cavies, seven species of primates, both kinds of anacondas – yellow and green, 3 species of caimans – dwarf, spectacled and Jacaré – huge black and white tegu lizards, and more amazing birds than you can possibly imagine. We had profound times while we simply witnessed and listened in silence to this wonderful natural world.

The people of Brazil were lovely. They are generous and kind and have done a fantastic job of preserving some of the wild things on this planet. Brazil has a reputation as a violent, dangerous place where the rain forest is being destroyed. While those things are partly true, all of the efforts that the Brazilians are doing to preserve the Amazon and the wetlands deserve praise. Our guides here are knowledgeable and more than competent.  Brazil is the size of the lower 48 states – to make any generalization about this country would be inaccurate. Brazilians are rightly proud of their nation. I will be leading another trip there next summer. Please contact me for details and further information.

This Perspective ran recently on San Francisco’s NPR station. ANTS!!!  They just may inherit the Earth. And this perspective on hummingbirds is even more recent.

Here is my latest column- ASK THE NATURALIST- in Bay Nature Magazine. I have been writing this column since the inception of the wonderful magazine. Can you use crickets to tell the temperature?

I no longer lead natural history trips to Baja – petting the gray whales, swimming with sea lions and following blue and sperm whales – but I highly recommend Captain Art on The Searcher. The timing is perfect for either one of these trips. Tell Celia I sent you.
February 7-18, 2018, or March 24-April 4, 2018

Here’s me in Brazil holding bi-colored Toucans
Queen Victoria Water Lily in the Pantanal.
I have meditated off and on since 1973. This video is worth your two minutes. 

The amazing sex life of the cabbage butterfly!! 

I read this on my cell phone…..

Bringing Klimt to life with real live models! 

Who knew that praying mantises are eating birds!! 

Some Images from Brazil: A Jaribu Stork, a Capybara (the world’s largest rat), a Jaguar, a Yacare Caiman, and a Black Vulture on a Capybara carcass.

by Grace Shulman

Our bodies, lucent under the bedclothes,
fit tightly like the pieces of a broken
terra-cotta vase now newly mended,
smooth surfaces, no jagged edges visible.
I’ve read that countries were so interlocked
before tectonic heavings, when the ocean
parted Mexico and Mauritania.
Brazil’s shoulder was hoisted to Nigeria,
Italy pressed Libya, Alaska
lay so close to Russia that fingers touched.
Our tremulous hands held fast in sleep at dawn;
legs, arms entwined, one continent, one mass.

From Days of Wonder. © Mariner Books, 2002