Inspired by Jim Goldstein's annual blog project, here are my personal favorites from 2010. I had a very productive year, with almost 150 blog posts and images appearing in a few conservation publications. Additionally, I was honored to take second place in the Wildlands category of the 2010 Defender's of Wildlife contest. I also just launched my new portfolio website -- www.patulrichphotography.com -- so please stop by and take a look around.
In no particular order, here's my favorite fifteen of 2010, with a link to the original blog post of each.
Our August hike to see the tule elk rut was awesome, capped off by having a front row seat while these two males fought. This image quickly became one of my most viewed on Flickr, and was selected as a weekly pick in the 2010 National Geographic contest.
I had a fantastic encounter with a very large flock of peeps along Limantour Spit in Point Reyes in November. I spent a fair amount of time crawling around in the sand with the birds and took a lot of images, but this frame jumped out to me right away as I was going through the shots.
From that same November trip, this was just a small portion of the entire flock of shorebirds. I had a handful of opportunities to photograph the flocks moving up and down the beach, and this was my favorite of the bunch. The light, birds, waves, and bluffs all came together at the right moment.
This was the first good opportunity I've ever had to get close to a black-bellied plover, and I was happy to come away with a frame of it calling.
One of my favorite trips of the year was an October drive up to Lake Tahoe to see the Kokannee salmon run, and especially the local black bears that feast on it. We were fortunate enough to get to see this cub and its mother catch many salmon in the creek.
Salmon & Bears
This is the mother bear with a fresh caught salmon from the creek. Until about a week before I took this trip, I had no idea that you could see a scene like this in California! Once I found out about it, it was too incredible of an opportunity to miss, and we were there the next weekend.
A lone western sandpiper separated from a large flock of sanderlings. It can be challenging to compose a striking image from a large flock of birds, but it gets much easier when one bird is separated from the group.
Too Much Fun
One of my favorite wildlife encounters of the year was getting to spend some time watching this long-tailed weasel play in a cattle grate. It was full of energy, and was very curious about me (and my car) as it bounded in and out of the grate, and snuck closer to me to get a better look.
Prim & Proper
I had a handful of great quail encounters this spring, and this is one of my favorite shots from them. The creamy backdrop is a hillside across the valley.
Another frame from our August hike out Tomales Point to see the tule elk. While seeing a few fights between bulls was the highlight, we spent most of the time watching them feed.
Quail in a Sea of Gold
This quail picked a great perch in front of a sea of yellow wildflowers, and was kind enough to hang out on it until I got close enough and at the right position to take this shot.
Whenever I view this image, I can still feel the stillness and quiet of that morning. I've taken many trips to Limantour Beach under the early morning fog, and this shot really captured the essence the experience.
Quail on a Post
I had a good year photographing California quail in 2010, and this image was on my first really nice opportunity. I like how this light and the pose help to highlight the beautiful patterns of the feathers on its neck.
I'm not particularly drawn to photographing flowers, but irises have a special place in my heart. I love to find these early spring wildflowers covering the coastal hillsides of Point Reyes National Seashore.
Relaxing on Loser's Beach
My favorite annual event along the coast is the winter arrivial of the northern elephant seals. These animals are incredible, and walking among then at Año Nuevo State Reserve really makes you feel like you're in a nature documentary. I can't wait to take my annual pilgrimage there in early January!
And finally, as a bonus, here is one of my favorite shots that my beautiful wife took of me behind the lens this year. This is from our trip up to Tahoe: