Friday, April 8, 2011

The owl that wasn't, Berkeley Marina

Burrowed burrowing owl - Pat Ulrich Wildlife Photography

This is a shot about a shot that I had in my head but was never able to get. After finding this owl in a burrow that was an ideal location for a nice ground level image right near the fence to keep the dogs out, I had high hopes to come home with an image of this bird standing tall by its burrow. I returned to the park many times this spring, but each time the owl stayed tucked away inside. On my last trip in March, I finally saw it half-out of the hole -- but by then the grass was too tall for the shot I wanted anyway. Such is the joy of wildlife photography though. Not that there's joy in not getting a shot you want, but there is much joy when the stars align and the animals actually do what you were envisioning in perfect light. You never know when it will happen -- so the more potential images you have stored in your head, the better ;-)

Thursday, April 7, 2011

California ground squirrel, Berkeley Marina

California ground squirrel in cute pose - Pat Ulrich Wildlife Photography

By this time of year the burrowing owls should have left Cesar Chavez Park at the Berkeley Marina to spend the summer months in their breeding grounds. While the owls are the main wildlife draw of the park, there are plenty of other subjects around including lots of song birds and raptors, and of course a lot of California ground squirrels.

Squatty ground squirrel - Pat Ulrich Wildlife Photography

It's always interesting to see the interaction (or lack thereof) between the burrowing owls and these squirrels. The fact that they are basically the same size probably has something to do with that, since I think they are too large for the owls to consider prey. So instead they seem to tolerate each other at close range, and since they share the shame aerial predators, I would guess the owls appreciate having the extra eyes around.

Ground Squirrel Snack - Pat Ulrich Wildlife Photography

While I was sitting on the ground photographing an owl in its burrow last month, this cute subject came strolling into my line of sight. Initially I was frustrated by the brown blob in the frame, but I quickly decided to refocus and snap off a few frames of this photogenic critter instead.

Caught in the Act - Pat Ulrich Wildlife Photography

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

American avocet, Radio Road Ponds

Avocet portrait - Pat Ulrich Wildlife Photography

A few more shots from the nice encounter I had last month with a large flock of American avocets at Radio Road Ponds. Mid-march is right at their transition time from the basic plumage, which is in grayscale, and their breeding plumage, with the beautiful cinnamon coloration.

Summer vs. Winter Plumage - Pat Ulrich Wildlife Photography

Regardless of their plumage of the day, I find these birds to be so elegant. They stand tall, with a long smooth shape to their body and bills, and they just seem to float as they walk.

American avocet standing tall - Pat Ulrich Wildlife Photography

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Northern Shoveler at Radio Road Ponds

Northern shoveler looking handsome - Pat Ulrich Wildlife Photography

There's just something about northern shovelers that fascinates me, and it's always a pleasure when I get a chance to photograph one from up close. In most locations I've found them fairly skittish to approach, but after positioning myself along the edge of the water at Radio Road Ponds this one came quite close (in addition to others). In the shot below, he is motioning and vocalizing towards another duck that was in the area -- although I can't remember if it was a greeting towards a female or a less friendly call to a male rival.

Northern shoveler motioning - Pat Ulrich Wildlife Photography

Submitted to World Bird Wednesday -- follow the link to see the posts for this week!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Willet on blue, Moss Landing State Beach

Willet on the beach - Pat Ulrich Wildlife Photography

The unseasonably warm temps with plenty of sunshine the past few days calls for a colorful and warm picture. Here's a willet cruising along the shoreline of Moss Landing State Beach, with the gorgeous blue of the Pacific behind.