Showing posts with label tule elk. Show all posts
Showing posts with label tule elk. Show all posts

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.


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.


Friday, January 13, 2012

Tule elk overlooking the ocean, Point Reyes National Seashore

Tule elk overlooking the Pacific Ocean

This shot of a young bull tule elk is from the same trip to Point Reyes National Seashore as my previous post. Since this image was taken in February the rut was long over, but this young bull thought he was king of this large harem of females. I had seen his antlers rise over the hillside first, and waited for him to appear along the hill crest. This image is a great example of one of my favorite aspects of photographing tule elk at Point Reyes -- the ability to include the ocean as the backdrop. Along Drake's Beach, I've even seen elk hoof-prints in the sand, but I was never lucky enough to have a chance to photograph an elk right in front of the breakers.

View more photographs of elk and other wildlife on Tomales Point in Point Reyes National Seashore.


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Soft tule elk ears, Point Reyes National Seashore

Portrait of a female tule elk in Point Reyes National Seashore

Earlier this week I took a little time to browse through some unsorted images from a few trips I had taken to Point Reyes National Seashore in early 2011. I had some really great outings during the winter there, and this particular trip was a real highlight. I saw a wide array of wildlife, from shorebirds to kestrels, skunks to bobcats, and of course, tule elk. On this cold morning there was a slight chance for ground level snow in the higher elevations of the Point Reyes peninsula, so I was out there for sunrise in the hope of finding such a rare scene before my lens. It turned out that it had only rained overnight, but the wildlife was incredible in the cool morning air.

I saw a large herd of tule elk near the road on Tomales Point, so I pulled my car off onto the shoulder and sat to watch them. In just a few minutes time, the whole herd had surrounded my car, and I was able to get an intimate view of their daily life. I rolled down all of my windows, and moved from seat to seat in the car for over a half hour before they slipped down a nearby hillside. It's such a privilege to be so close to a group of large animals like this, and I really enjoyed the chance to take some detailed portraits of the elk. In this shot, her head looks so soft and fluffy that I want to reach out and give her a scratch behind the ears (not literally of course, no good would come from trying that).

View many more images of tule elk in Point Reyes National Seashore in my Tule Elk Gallery.


Saturday, November 12, 2011

Young bull tule elk, Point Reyes National Seashore

Young bull tule elk in tall grass on a foggy day

I finally started going through the images from my final trip to Point Reyes National Seashore before moving to Massachusetts. On many occasions I had glanced at the folder in Lightroom, but couldn't bring myself to seriously go through my last set of new images from my favorite place in the world until yesterday. My wife accompanied me for my last trip to Point Reyes two days before we left California, and we decided to start with a hike along the Tomales Point Trail with the hope of photographing some rutting tule elk. As you can see, the day greeted us with the characteristic fog of Point Reyes, and really, no weather could have been more appropriate! That park taught me to love the fog, and especially the quiet solitude that it brings, and I spent so many mornings walking this trail hoping that the fog would lift just enough for photographs.

This was my favorite shot from the day, since there is a fair amount of emotion to the pose of the bull elk -- much like we were at the time, he was sensing the wind and deciding which direction to go (of course, his decision was based simply on the availability of female elk). Otherwise, I didn't get too many images that I was very happy with from this trip. We spent a fair amount of time watching a large bull guard his harem, and were able to listen to him bugle at many rival males in the area, but the images lacked the clarity that I favor due to the amount of moisture in the air. No regrets though -- Point Reyes gave me more than my fair share of favorite photographs over the years, it was wonderful to spend one last morning in the park with my wife. Even though I'm not sure when I'll make it back, I am already looking forward to greeting the sunrise (or a thick layer of fog) the next time I'm able to be in Point Reyes!

The tule elk in Point Reyes National Seashore are fantastic photographic subjects and you can view more in my Tule Elk Gallery.


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Big bull, bigger news

Bull tule elk - Pat Ulrich Wildlife Photography

This has been a busy summer for me, as my regular readers may have guessed due to my infrequent posts, so it may come as no surprise that there is big news in my future. I will be submitting my Ph.D. dissertation in the next week or two (in environmental engineering, if you were curious), which will be the culmination of a wonderful six-year journey filled with hard work, great challenges and successes, fantastic friendships, and some very fond memories.

In the beginning of September, my wife and I will be uprooting from California and embarking on a cross-country road trip to the Boston area, which will be our new home. While I do not yet have a position lined up, I am excited at the prospect of beginning my professional career in conservation there. I hope that I’ll be able to continue to find time to photograph wildlife in the Northeast, and I will definitely be keeping the blog as active as I can. I have plenty of images from California waiting to be posted, but I suppose I’ll need to come up with a new tag-line for the blog, since I’ll no longer be "seeking inspiration from the natural beauty of just northern California." Also, if you have any favorite bird or wildlife locations in Massachusetts (or the surrounding area) please let me know in the comments or by email. I’m definitely looking forward to finding some new wetlands, forests, and beaches to explore!

On our travels to the east, we’ll be spending around a week in Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Parks – two places that I have never visited, but that have been on my wish list for a long time. I’m looking forward to the wildlife photography opportunities there, and my wonderful bride has already agreed to wake up well before sunrise each morning so we can seek out wildlife during the golden hours. I probably won’t have too much of a chance to blog while we’re on the road, but hopefully I’ll come back with plenty of images to post throughout the fall!

For the next few weeks, I’ll continue to post new images whenever I get the chance while I wrap up many loose ends here before the move, including squeezing in as many trips to Point Reyes National Seashore as I can! As always, thank you for taking the time to read my blog and for your comments and support over the past few years!

Cheers,
Pat

Friday, August 12, 2011

Bugling bull tule elk, Point Reyes National Seashore

Rutting bull elk - Pat Ulrich Wildlife Photography

The tule elk rut is in full swing in Point Reyes National Seashore. I started my day with an early morning hike along Limantour Spit, but I again saw very few shorebirds. So since it was still early by the time I was back in my car, I decided to take a trip up to Tomales Point to check on the tule elk. Unfortunately, the fog was so thick that I could barely see the bushes just a few feet outside my window. So instead of taking a hike through pea soup (I've done that enough times in the elk reserve to know that it's just not photographically worth it), I decided to take a drive out to the outer peninsula. I saw some elegant terns on Drake's Beach last week, so I thought perhaps I could find them (or maybe some shorebirds) there as a consolation prize. Instead, I was treated to a fantastic display from the free-ranging tule elk herd. There are often elk near the turn off to Drake's Beach, but they are not often so close to the road. It was a real treat to park the car and spend some time watching three separate harems on the hillside.

The largest harem belonged to this very large bull, and although he was moving with a substantial limp from one of his back legs, he was still bugling loudly, chasing off rivals (no antler-locking fights while I was there though), and mating with his females. He was a truly impressive specimen, and it's always fun to see that slightly crazed look in his eye that you see this time of year. In this shot, he is bugling loudly across the valley, and it was fun to hear the other bulls answer him back. Since I was hearing multiple responses to his calls, it was also nice to know that there were more elk just down the road.

View more images of these majestic animals in my Tule Elk Gallery.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Tule elk feeding in the fog, Point Reyes National Seashore

Tule elk feeding in the fog - Pat Ulrich Wildlife Photography

This herd of tule elk bulls was enjoying a dinner of tall, blooming grasses when I encountered them on Tomales Point in Point Reyes National Seashore. Through the shifting fog I watched them graze on the grasses and occasionally push each other out of the way. Every now and then a few would look my way, which made for better pictures since I could get some eye contact with them. The two looking at me in this frame are average sized, but there were some very large bulls in the group as well. Even though they all still had velvet on their antlers, you could already tell that the smaller bulls respected the larger ones, as they often parted ways when the big guys were coming through.

View more in my Tule Elk Gallery.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Tule elk bulls in fog, Point Reyes National Seashore

Tule elk bulls in fog

I encountered a herd of maybe 20-25 tule elk bulls with velvet antlers on a hike along the Tomales Point Trail in Point Reyes National Seashore earlier this week. The tall grasses are blooming on the grasslands, and I thought it would make for a great setting if I could find some elk. It's always fun to encounter a "bachelor herd" of males, since there's just something cool about seeing so many big bulls with their large antlers all at once. Unfortunately, they were in the foggiest part of the trail when I found them. Just 5 minutes up the trail I was above the rolling fog, and 5 minutes after the encounter I was below it -- but this is where the bulls were, so I made the best of it. At times, like for this shot, it briefly thinned out and the elk came into clear focus, but then moments later it could change back to pea soup. But really, is there anything more classic for Point Reyes than some elk shrouded in fog? I have a lot of images to sort through from my time spent with the tule elk, including a kick-boxing match between two of them. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that at least a few of them will come out reasonably sharp through the fog.

View more in my Tule Elk Gallery.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Grazing tule elk in velvet, Point Reyes National Seashore

Tule elk with velvet antlers, Point Reyes National Seashore

I love to see these regal animals with their velvet antlers during the spring. The amount of energy and resources they must invest in growing new antlers is really interesting, especially since only a few will be strong enough to win mating rights to a harem. These shots are from a hike I took out the Tomales Point Trail. A small herd of males were feeding on the grasses and wildflowers just off the trail.

Elk with velvet antlers, Point Reyes National Seashore

More of these handsome elk in my Tomales Point, Point Reyes National Seashore Gallery.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Tule elk in lupine, Point Reyes National Seashore

Tule elk in lupine - Pat Ulrich Wildlife Photography

Continuing the thread of my wishful thoughts of summer, here's another dive into an untouched folder from last May. This was one of one my favorite outings of the summer, and it occurred early in the season. Point Reyes was awash in wildflowers and the elk and birds seemed to be enjoying it as much as I was.

Tule elk - Pat Ulrich Wildlife Photography

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Browse more images of Point Reyes tule elk in my Tomales Point gallery.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Tule elk, Point Reyes National Seashore

Female tule elk in Point Reyes National Seashore - Pat Ulrich Wildlife Photography

A tule elk cow standing on the hillsides of Tomales Point in Point Reyes National Seashore. She was part of a very large herd that surrounded my car after I pulled off the road in February. I liked the setting with that lone cypress tree in the background, and was hoping to include in a picture. I picked a spot and waited for an elk to approach for the shot I had in mind -- she didn't quite line up where I wanted, but since I was in the car, I made do with the angle I had.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Female tule elk, Point Reyes National Seashore

Tule elk in Point Reyes National Seashore - Pat Ulrich Wildlife Photography

Yesterday was one of the best trips to Point Reyes National Seashore I've had in a while. The park never ceases to surprise me, and even though the day started slow with a lot of rain for the first hour after sunrise, I left the park later that afternoon with a ton of images to sort through. One of the highlights of the trip was spending some time in the middle of a very large herd of tule elk up on Tomales Point. I've had great experiences with the elk before, but never in a group this large. Perhaps in the winter some of the smaller herds form together into a larger one. Anyway, this is one of my favorite shots from my first glance though the trip. There's just something about the way this beautiful female is glancing out of the frame that just pulls me in.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Tule Elk Face Off -- Plus, I Need your votes for the National Geographic Contest

Face Off -- And I need your votes!

So here's another image that has been sitting in my queue, ready to be posted, just waiting for the right moment. Well, today is finally the right time -- and there's a good reason why:

One of my other images from this fight has been selected as a nominee for the Viewer's Choice Award in the 2010 National Geographic Photo Contest. I could really use your help in the voting -- please follow the link below and rate my elk as a 10!

Please follow this link to the National Geographic site and rate my image a 10! The voting ends on December 15.

This is the image in the contest, which I blogged back in August:
Evenly matched

Thanks for voting and please spread the word to anyone that might be interested! These are both shots of a fight between two male tule elk during the rutting season in Point Reyes National Seashore.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Grazing tule elk

Grazing tule elk

A bull tule elk grazing along Tomales Point in Point Reyes National Seashore in August of this year. This area was one of the best for seeing them along the trail, since I could get a nice background of both Tomales Bay and the hills on the other side.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Relaxed bull elk

Relaxed bull

After coming over the hillside and chasing away two younger males who were mingling with the females (no fighting necessary, the smaller males just turned and ran to the outskirts of the group), this large male tule elk made himself a straw hat by digging around in the grass and then settled in to watch over his harem. He picked a spot that was right in a resting group of females, and he was alertly keeping an eye on the others.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The calf and the king

One of the exciting things about visiting the Tule elk during the rut, is that in addition to seeing bulls fighting, there is also a chance to see the young calves. I had seen juveniles on previous hikes at different times of year, but in August of this year we were treated to seeing a handful of calves still with their spots! Before this trip, I didn't even know that elk were born with spots, and they sure are cute with them.

The calf and the king

While the composition was a bit tricky with that overcast sky above the hilltop, I really liked the contrast between the young calf and the large dominant bull in these shots. Who knows, perhaps this little one will one day have his own harem. I liked the shot below too, with the male seemingly keeping an eye out for, or perhaps on, the calf.

Keeping an eye on the little one

Wednesday, September 8, 2010