Showing posts with label Point Reyes National Seashore. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Point Reyes National Seashore. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Song sparrow in blooming lupine, Point Reyes National Seashore

Photograph of a song sparrow perched in blooming yellow bush lupine

I've written about this plenty of times before, but strolling the trail to Kehoe Beach while the wildflowers are blooming in Point Reyes National Seashore is sight to behold. The air is thick with their sweet aromas, and the birds are abundant among the blooms. On my summer trip last year, I walked this trail almost daily looking for opportunities to photograph song birds as they bounced about the branches. The dominant color along the trail was yellow, and this song sparrow perched on a yellow bush lupine with wild mustard behind.

View more of my photographs of sparrows and other song birds.


Monday, August 17, 2015

Bobcat near Abbotts Lagoon, Point Reyes National Seashore

Photograph of a bobcat in Point Reyes National Seashore

I knew it was going to be a productive trip to Point Reyes National Seashore for me last year, when I encountered this bobcat on my first evening in the park. After landing in California I grabbed some supplies for the week in my old stomping grounds (including a burrito from my favorite taqueria!) before heading out to Marin. For my first foray into the park I decided to look for quail in the coastal scrub near Abbotts Lagoon. I had some luck with birds near the trailhead before starting to hike toward the coast. I didn't get too far down the trail though before spotting this bobcat searching for rodents in the adjacent field. Much to my delight, the cat started working its way toward my location near the small drainage pond along the trail. It definitely noticed that I was watching, and it gave me a wary eye as it approached before disappearing into the reeds at the edge of the pond. I stayed in my spot on the trail for a while longer to see if it would emerge, and surprisingly it stepped out even closer to me. It seemed to want to get a better look at its observer, spending a few minutes looking my way before slipping back into the vegetation. I would see this cat working the fields near the pond multiple times during my trip (though never at this close range again), and I suspect that it may have had a den there.

Photograph of a bobcat in California looking to the side

View more photographs of bobcats.


Sunday, August 16, 2015

Mule deer behind the dunes, Point Reyes National Seashore

Photograph of a mule deer behind the dunes in Point Reyes National Seashore

Continuing with my run of fog-shrouded images from last summer, here is a mule deer doe (above) and her juvenile (below) enjoying the summer wildflowers in Point Reyes National Seashore. I began my day in the park with a morning drive out to Chimney Rock and encountered this pair along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard. The backside of the large dunes of the outer peninsula are in the background, and if it wasn't for the fog, the Pacific would be visible beyond them.

Photograph of a young mule deer in the tall grass

View more of my photographs of mule deer.


Saturday, August 15, 2015

Trail through the fog, Point Reyes National Seashore

Photograph of a trail through wildflowers under heavy fog in Point Reyes National Seashore

Following on my theme in yesterday's post about switching my mind's eye into landscape mode, here is another photograph from last summer along the Tomales Point Trail under a heavy layer of fog. I've always enjoyed the wind-driven shape of these stately cypress trees, and they were even more engaging as they faded in and out of sight through the fog. My early June trip happened to coincide with an explosion of lupine and wild radish along the trail, which added an amazing amount of color, as well as a thick scent of pollen, to the scene.

View more of my photography from the Tomales Point area of Point Reyes National Seashore.


Friday, August 14, 2015

Impressionist's landscape under the fog, Point Reyes National Seashore

Photograph of a wildflower filled valley in Point Reyes National Seashore

I'm looking forward to a trip to Acadia National Park later this month, which means I'll need to switch my photographic eye to landscape mode. I really wish that I was a better landscape photographer. With wildlife, it comes fairly naturally to me to create images that have the potential to build an emotional connection with the viewer. In some ways, I think it can be easier when you have a clear focus of attention on a living, breathing creature. The eyes provide that necessary window to pull a viewer directly into the scene, and there's always a dynamic component related to the perceived motion (or lack thereof) of the animal. I have yet to find a consistent way to generate an emotional connection through my landscape photography. I feel it strongly while viewing other photographer's work, but it still remains an elusive challenge in my own.

On my trip to Point Reyes National Seashore last summer, I was primarily focused on wildlife, but I made a conscious effort to try to capture the scenic aspects of the park as well. I have such a strong emotional connection to the Point Reyes landscape, and I would love to be able to express just a sliver of it through my lens. I walked the Tomales Point Trail a couple of times on this trip, and each time that I passed this valley bathed in wildflowers it caught my attention. I tried a number of times to create something that expressed my draw to this scene, and the closest I came was in this image under a dense layer of fog. The wind was barely blowing and the birds were quiet, as if the world was weighed down by the fog. The soft colors under the heavy air and remarkable density of blooms in the valley seemed to be cast by an impressionist's paintbrush. The stillness and serenity of this stop along the trail are still etched in my memory.

Ultimately, my efforts to create an impactful image fell short of my intentions, but with failure comes the opportunity for growth. Artistic expression would likely go stale without the constant pursuit of improvement, so I'm looking forward to the challenge. Acadia is another landscape that I felt an immediate connection with, and I hope I'll be returning from my upcoming trip with an expression of that connection.

View more of my landscapes from Point Reyes National Seashore.


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

Quail stare down from fence post in Point Reyes National Seashore
A California quail staring into the camera from his perch in Point Reyes National Seashore

Happy Thanksgiving to all of my followers! I hope you are able to relax and enjoy some time with family and friends!


Monday, November 10, 2014

Quail portrait on a fencepost, Point Reyes National Seashore

Quail portrait on a fencepost in Point Reyes National Seashore
A California quail posing on a fencepost near Abbott's Lagoon in Point Reyes National Seashore

I've been posting a lot of shorebirds lately since I've had some great recent outings in the area, but I still have a backlog of images from my five day trip to Point Reyes National Seashore over the summer. As I always do while in the park, I was constantly scanning for opportunities to photograph California quail. This particular male perched himself on a relatively plain fencepost, but in front of a nicely colored hillside for a backdrop.

View more of my photographs of California quail.


Monday, July 28, 2014

Tule elk with a vine on its antlers, Point Reyes National Seashore

Tule elk with vine wrapped around antlers in Point Reyes National Seashore
A bull tule elk is lucky to have only vegetation wrapped around its antlers in Point Reyes National Seashore

This photo of a bull tule elk in Point Reyes National Seashore is back from a foggy morning in 2011. If you look carefully, you can see a long vine wrapped around the base of his antlers. This is rather common during the rutting season as bulls aggressively brush their antlers on the ground to pick up grasses to carry on their antlers. For some elk though, this can be quite dangerous if they get tangled in broken lines of barbed wire fencing lying on the ground.

This is a long introduction to refer you to a great write-up done by fellow Point Reyes photographer Jim Coda about the potentially (un)wildlife-friendly fencing practices in Point Reyes National Seashore.


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Sparrow singing in the marsh, Point Reyes National Seashore

Song sparrow singing while perched on reeds in a freshwater marsh
A song sparrow belts out its tune from the freshwater marsh along the Kehoe Beach Trail

I have written previously about spending a fair amount of time looking for song birds to photograph in the wildflowers along the trail to Kehoe Beach in Point Reyes National Seashore, but one of my favorite images from the trip came from turning to the opposite side of the trail. It may not have the flashy colors of wildflowers, but I'm a sucker for marsh vegetation!

Browse more of my photographs of song birds.

Submitted to Wild Bird Wednesday -- follow the link to check out this week's posts!


Sunday, July 13, 2014

White-crowned sparrow in a sea of wildflowers, Point Reyes National Seashore

White-crowned sparrow in a sea of wildflowers in Point Reyes National Seashore
A white-crowned sparrow perched in the summer wildflowers along the Kehoe Beach Trail in Point Reyes National Seashore.

As I've mentioned in a previous post, the Kehoe Beach Trail is one of my favorite places to look for wildlife hiding in the sea of wildflowers that line the trail. I generally don't target song birds when I'm out looking for wildlife to photograph, mostly because I find it can be rather challenging to get close enough to obtain a bird that is relatively large in the frame and unobstructed by branches and such. However, a setting like this is, in my opinion, a great place to leave a lot of space around the birds. I particularly liked the layering to the wildflowers in this frame, with the white flowers extending on tall stalks above the yellow blooms.

View more photos from the Kehoe Beach area in Point Reyes National Seashore.


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Sparrow singing on a curved branch, Point Reyes National Seashore

White-crowned sparrow singing from a curved branch in Point Reyes
A white-crowned sparrow sings along the Abbott's Lagoon Trail in Point Reyes National Seashore.

While looking for songbirds to photograph on my recent trip to Point Reyes National Seashore, my primary objective was to capture them perched in front of wildflowers. Of course, it wasn't always possible to get a bright, colorful backdrop in each frame. I was drawn into this scene by the old, weathered branch of coyote brush that this white-crowned sparrow was perched on. Even better, a distant hillside provided a clean background of neutral colors for the shot as it started to sing. This otherwise drab bird provided its own splash of color though, flashing its green and orange leg bands.

Browse more of my photos of song birds.


Sunday, July 6, 2014

Mule deer in the wildflowers, Point Reyes National Seashore

Mule deer in wildflowers in Point Reyes National Seashore
A mule deer hiding in the wildflowers along the trail to Kehoe Beach in Point Reyes National Seashore.

The trail to Kehoe Beach in Point Reyes National Seashore is one of my favorite places to photograph wildlife set against a backdrop of wildflowers. The hillside along the trail seems to explode in a wall of color, and the flowers conveniently grow all the way to eye level. In the past, I've photographed some song birds like this white-crowned sparrow set against the colorful backdrop, and I walked this trail a number of times on my recent trip looking for similar opportunities. As I was scanning for birds perched on the blooms, it was a delightful surprise to see these big ears and eyes staring back at me from behind the flowers. There was a slight breeze on this morning, so in many of my frames this lovely doe was distractingly obscured by the yellow blooms, but in this one, the flower stopped in the middle and gave a clean connection with her eyes.

View more photos from the trail to Kehoe Beach in Point Reyes National Seashore.


Saturday, July 5, 2014

White-crowned sparrow with a beak full of bugs, Point Reyes National Seashore

White-crowned sparrow with a beak full of bugs
A white-crowned sparrow brings a beak full of bugs back to its young in Point Reyes National Seashore.


During my recent trip to Point Reyes National Seashore, I dedicated a fair amount of time to photographing song birds among the early summer wildflowers. The first stretch of the Tomales Point Trail was absolutely covered in colorful wild radish and the trail to Kehoe Beach was also lined with dense wildflowers. These shots were taken on the trail to Abbott's Lagoon, which doesn't have as high of a density of wildflowers, but the yellow bush lupine was in full bloom (and provides the splash of yellow in the background here).


White-crowned sparrow with grasshoppers in Point Reyes National Seashore
A white-crowned sparrow looks around before returning to feed its young.

While I didn't see any nests, there were definite signs of young birds around with the parents bringing back beaks full of bugs. In the high-res version of these photos, you can clearly see that this sparrow returned with at least two grass hoppers crammed into its tiny beak. While on a much different scale, this behavior reminded me of seeing photographs of puffins returning to the cliffs with a mouthful of fish (definitely something on my lifetime photographic wishlist!).

View more photos of songbirds perched on wildflowers in my Song Birds Gallery.


Friday, July 4, 2014

Curious quail in focus, Point Reyes National Seashore

Curious quail in Point Reyes National Seashore
A California quail casts a curious glance at the photographer in Point Reyes National Seashore.

If you couldn't already guess from the banner on my blog, California quail are one of my favorite subjects to photograph, and Point Reyes National Seashore is a great place to get them in front of your lens. I photographed a bunch of quail on my recent trip there, and this was one of my favorite shots. Quail seem to have such personality, and the way that they turn their head in a curious glance cracks me up. For these shots, I was parked in the Abbott's Lagoon parking lot watching a few quail bouncing around the tops of coyote brush a bit further away, then out of the corner of my eye, I saw this guy pop up between the bushes to get a look at me. After slowing turning my lens toward it, it was exciting to see that it positioned itself behind another bush in a perfect way to provide a smooth out of focus foreground and background. 


Wildlife Photography by Pat Ulrich: Quail &emdash; Quail stare-down
An alternative view of the same quail after it moved higher on the coyote brush.

As he made his way to the top of the bush, the delightful bokeh effect started to disappear, but he posed there for a while providing some clean portrait opportunities too.

View more of my photographs of California quail.


Thursday, July 3, 2014

Five days in Point Reyes National Seashore

An overcast sunset at North Beach in Point Reyes National Seashore
An overcast sunset casts a pastel glow over the landscape at North Beach in Point Reyes National Seashore.


In June, I had the opportunity to take a trip to relax and focus on photography for a few days. It had been almost two years since I was last in California, so I decided to spend those 5 days photographing and hiking around my favorite park, Point Reyes National Seashore. While early June isn't necessarily what I would consider prime time for photography in Point Reyes, I had an exceptional trip and came back with a number of photographs that I’m rather excited about. The wildflowers were really putting on a show (especially the wild radish and yellow bush lupine), the tule elk were looking handsome in their summer velvet, quail were running around all over the place, and I even had a nice encounter with a bobcat.

It was a truly refreshing experience to be back in a place that I love so dearly and to have the chance to focus so much contiguous time on experiencing the park through photography. Each morning I rolled out of bed with the first light under the fog and spent as long as possible photographing wildlife under the overcast skies. Then as the harsh light of the midday sun finally broke through, I'd pack away my camera and head out for a long hike. I hit up a number of trails that I had never hiked on during my five years of frequenting the park while I was in California, so it was great to experience new aspects of an old friend. Then as the sun started dropping, or the fog started rolling back in, I'd start searching for wildlife again.

I came back with a ton of pictures which are partially sorted and processed so far. You can drop by my Point Reyes National Seashore Special Collections to see my new work as I upload it, and I'm hoping to post new images here on the blog with a regular rhythm over the coming weeks.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Windblown tule elk at sunset, Point Reyes National Seashore

Windblown tule elk at sunset, Point Reyes National Seashore

This is another selection from my Favorite Photographs of 2012 that I had not blogged about previously. The light was magical on this last evening of my September trip to California. I was watching this herd of tule elk along the road to Drake's Beach, but as the sun started creeping towards the horizon, I had plans to catch the sunset overlooking the Great Beach from the lighthouse. After capturing my planned images there (and nearly getting blown over in the process by those Point Reyes winds), I drove back to watch this grazing herd of tule elk in the fading pastels of dusk.

View more photos of tule elk in Point Reyes National Seashore.


Saturday, November 17, 2012

Caspian terns, Point Reyes National Seashore

Caspian tern touching down in Point Reyes National Seashore

On an overcast morning during the summer of 2011, I found a sizeable flock of Caspian terns relaxing on the exposed mudflats of the Estero de Limantour in Point Reyes National Seashore. In my experience, terns can be somewhat difficult to approach, since they are quick to fly away. However, this flock was amenable to a ground-level approach. As I crawled towards them across the sand, something spooked the flock and they all took flight. Much to my delight, they circled around a few times and landed closer to my position.

View more photos from the Limantour area of Point Reyes National Seashore.


Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Great Beach in Point Reyes National Seashore

The Great Beach in Point Reyes National Seashore reflecting warm sunset colors

This image of the Great Beach in Point Reyes National Seashore at sunset was one that I had always intended to make while I was living in California. Somehow though, I never found myself near the lighthouse around sunset -- so I specifically added this shot to my to-do list for my September trip to Point Reyes. This view looking north from the lighthouse parking lot is a very common vantage point for photographers, but the sight of the last rays of the day lighting up the sandstone bluffs is well worth it. Even though I would have worked this scene regardless of the conditions, I was excited to see the wave-like patterns in the sand.

View more landscape photographs of Point Reyes National Seashore.