Tuesday, December 21, 2010

2010 Favorites

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.

Evenly Matched
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.
Photograph of two fighting tule elk in Point Reyes National Seashore

Sleeping Sandpipers
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.
Photograph of sleeping sandpipers in Point Reyes National Seashore

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.
Photograph of a flock of shorebirds landing on the beach in Point Reyes National Seashore

Calling Plover
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.
Photograph of a plover calling out on the tidal flats in California

Stalking Salmon
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.
Photograph of a black bear cub stalking salmon near Lake Tahoe

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

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

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.
Photograph of a long-tailed weasel having fun in a cattle grate

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.
Photograph of a prim and proper California quail in Marin County

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.
Photograph of a tule elk browsing in Point Reyes National Seashore

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.
Photograph of a California quail set against a backdrop of golden wildflowers

Whenever I view this image, I can still feel the stillness and quiet solitude 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.
Photograph of a foggy morning in the estuary at Point Reyes National Seashore

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.
Photograph of a male California quail on a fencepost in Point Reyes

Douglas Iris
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.
Photograph of a wild Douglas iris in Point Reyes National Seashore

Relaxing on Loser's Beach
My favorite annual event along the coast is the winter arrival 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!
Photograph of a northern elephant seal relaxing on the beach

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:
Photograph of Pat Ulrich photographing Lake Tahoe


  1. It's all excellent work, Pat, but I love that weasel most of all. That's why I can't be trusted to pick "best" shots; I'll bet your elk and bear shots are everyone else's favorites. ;)

    Web site looks good too.

  2. Truly incredible photograpy Pat!!! I can't pick a favorite as they are all wonderful!! Thanks for sharing, you are an inspiration!

  3. Thats a very impressive serie of image, you are very talented and your work is inspiring! If i had to chose only one, it would be the Calling Plover ;)

  4. Fantastic work!! Heck of a year but I have to agree with John... that weasel is my favorite. So much personality!

  5. Incredible set of images Pat. I have to say the weasel really stands out to me too, although all of them brought me back for second, third, and fourth looks.

  6. Thanks to everyone for your kind words! Getting to spend some time with the weasel was definitely a highlight of the year for me. It had been on my photographic wishlist for a long time, and it was so much fun to watch it playing!

  7. Great shots. Shooting wildlife sounds like it would require a lot of patience. I tried taking pictures of birds the other day and it did not work out for me. Certainly nowhere near as amazing as these of course.

  8. Pat I've been looking at a lot of Best of 2010 sites today, but yours is the only one that has got me to make a comment, and that weasel gets another vote - great work!
    cheers Andrew (from Australia)

  9. Monster photographer! I'd die to be your student! haha! XD