Thursday, October 28, 2010



A female black bear with a freshly caught male Kokanee salmon in Taylor Creek near Lake Tahoe. While this shot is an ok profile of the bear, I really loved how the salmon turned out. You can see what a beautiful fish they are when in the breeding form.

And a huge congrats to the Giants for their game 1 victory last night over Cliff Lee and the Rangers. I thought they would pull out a win against him, but not quite in that high-scoring fashion! Go Giants!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Cub on a log

Cub on a log

A black bear cub finishing up the last scraps of a Kokanee salmon on a log alongside of Taylor Creek. This was one of the few frames where I was able to get some of the autumn color behind the bears as well.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Stilted reflection

Black-necked stilt, with reflection

I have a bunch more bear images sitting in the queue, but I thought I'd go with something of a more typical variety for my blog this Monday morning to mix things up a bit. Here's a lovely black-necked stilt walking through the shallows of Shollenberger Park in Petaluma. I just love to see these birds, and I think they are especially striking in photographs with their starkly contrasting plumage. With the very shallow water along the edges of the pond, this frame really shows off the wonderfully long legs of this species. In fact, they have the second longest legs of any species relative to their body size, with only the flamingo being longer.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Stalking salmon, Black bear cub in Taylor Creek

Photograph of a black bear cub stalking salmon near Lake Tahoe

It was really fun to watch this playful cub bounce around the creek while his mother was focused on consuming as much salmon as possible. However, we did see the cub catch a few fish on his own which he would grab and then run to the other side of the creek to eat it away from the stream. Perhaps he's had a few get away from him before, and knows they are easier to keep track of on land. This is about as serious as we saw the cub, where you can tell he was intent on watching where the salmon were moving in the stream ahead of him. In the end though, he decided this was not the right place to catch a meal.

View more photographs of black bears.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Cub along the fence

Cub on the fence

This cute little black bear cub belongs to the mother bear from my previous posts. It was really fun to watch him bound around the creek side, and he even caught a few salmon for himself. In this shot he's taking a quick break from chasing the fish to see what was happening upstream of the salmon fence.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


A black bear finishing up a freshly caught Kokanee salmon. Early on in the encounter, she must have been fairly hungry since she ate just about every part of the fish but the tail. But by the end of her visit to the creek, she was being much more selective about the parts of the fish she wanted to consume.


You might have noticed the metal fence behind her, which crossed the length of the stream. This was put in place by the Department of Fish & Game to keep most of the salmon in the lower part of the stream in order to facilitate the collection of eggs for hatchery use. This created quite a concentration of salmon right at the gate, and the local bears definitely figured that out!

Here's a "making of" shot for this image sequence, courtesy of my wife. We were up on a stream bank (along with many other people watching the bear) and were remarkably close. In any other situation it would have felt too close, however, it was clear from the relaxed behavior of this bear that she was only interested in the fish, and she barely paid attention to the throngs of people watching along the shore.

Making of

And since this shot clearly shows my baseball allegiance, I'll sneak in a "Let's Go Giants!!" -- we're up 2-1 in the NLCS!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Salmon & Bears in Taylor Creek

Photograph of a black bear with a Kokanee salmon in its jaws

There are times when you witness wildlife and it more or less leaves you breathless. Our encounter with the black bears feeding on Kokanee Salmon in Taylor Creek this weekend was one of them. Thanks to some great shots posted by Tory Kallman and John Wall, I knew this was an opportunity that was just too cool to pass up a chance at seeing.

We arrived in the area on Saturday afternoon, and spent the rest of the day sitting along the creekside hoping for the bears to appear. Unfortunately, there were no sightings to be had, and instead we were just left with the smell of many dead salmon wafting through the air. To make it worse, the rangers mentioned that the bears hadn't shown up in a few days, and we started to wonder if we had picked the wrong weekend to come or had missed the chance to see them altogether. With heavy rain showers in the forecast for Sunday we were resigned to enjoying the many other features of this area and figured that a day spent chasing landscapes and autumn colors would suffice.

However, we just had to make a quick trip back to the creek before setting off on a trip around the lake on Sunday morning. And just by chance, within 15 minutes of parking and watching the salmon, there was some excited activity up along the road. The bears were back, and soon enough they made there way to the creek and really put on a show!

Here are two shots of the mother bear with a male Kokanee salmon that she pulled from the stream. I have a lot of sorting and processing to do, but there will certainly be more bears in the future of this blog!

Photograph of a black bear pulling a salmon from Taylor Creek near Lake Tahoe

Friday, October 15, 2010

Almost time to relax

TGIF -- Almost time to relax

Its Friday morning, which means the weekend is nearly here and its almost time to relax. Lying out in the autumn sunshine like this Olympic marmot certainly sounds nice. Here's to hoping that you have an enjoyable and relaxing weekend! Taken in the Obstruction Pass area of Olympic National Park in September.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Like mother, like pup

A highlight of our August trip to MacKerricher State Park on the Mendocino coast was the harbor seals that hauled out on the rocks that were just offshore. This provided a great opportunity to observe them at relatively close range, and since there was water between the beach and their rocks, they were at ease when a group of onlookers stopped by.

Like mother, like pup

We saw a handful of young pups in the group, some of which were playing in the water, and some like this one were hauled out on the rocks. Based on the struggles we saw of other pups trying to get out of the water, I'm not quite sure how this little guy made it all the way to the top. But kudos to him, and perhaps some encouraging pushes from his mother were in order.

Mother and pup

I found the diversity of coloration and patterns on the seals to be quite interesting, and my personal favorite were those with the really dark colors like this mother. Perhaps her cute pup will one day grow up to look just like her!

Harbor seals

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Heron with prize

Heron with prize

A few weeks ago I posted a few shots from the archives of a great blue heron at Rodeo Lagoon in the act of striking at prey below the water surface. However, I didn't include any shots of the bird with its prize. I've remarked before at how small the fish were that it was catching, and I stand by that with this picture as evidence. It seems like it would take a lot of these tiny fish to satiate a bird of this size. I've got to give it credit though, it was remarkably adept at catching such small prey.

Monday, October 11, 2010


Photograph of one sandpiper isolated from the flock in Point Reyes National Seashore

A lone western sandpiper preening amidst a large flock of sanderlings. This was a sizeable group of shorebirds along the beach at Limantour Spit in Point Reyes National Seashore, and while laying in the sand with them I was constantly looking for interesting compositions and captivating subjects to isolate from the crowd. My eye kept coming back to the brown plumage of this bird, since it stood out against the grayscale of the sanderlings -- and eventually it started to preen, which further set itself apart.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

On one toothpick

On one toothpick

A western snowy plover (Charadrius alexandrinus nivosus) standing around on Limantour Spit in Point Reyes National Seashore. At this point in time it had popped up out of one footprint in the sand to have a look around before plopping down into a different one.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Mount Olympus

Mount Olympus

The summit of Mount Olympus as seen from the Obstruction Point area in Olympic National Park. When starting out on the hike I figured I would want a more wide-angle lens, however, I quickly changed my mind when I realized how small these glorious peaks would be in the frame. Instead, I slapped on my wildlife lens (Tamron 200-500 zoom) and felt that the way I was seeing the sights along the trail was much better represented by the tighter composition of 200mm. It also was nice to be ready when we saw an Olympic marmot along the trail.

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.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Take a bow

Take a bow

A sanderling (Calidris alba) in a high-contrast plumage phase (probably a molting juvenile) having a stretch and a bow. And really, with how much it stands out from the others who can blame it for showing off a little. Taken along Limantour Spit in Point Reyes National Seashore.