Thursday, August 22, 2019

Rutting tule elk on Tomales Point, Point Reyes National Seashore

Rutting tule elk smelling the scent on the wind

This bull tule elk was protecting a small harem of females on Tomales Point in Point Reyes National Seashore. Hiking out the Tomales Point trail during the August rut is great fun, but during this particular summer this herd was regularly hanging out near the end of the road as you descend toward the Pierce Ranch parking lot.

Male tule elk bugling through the fog

There was a lot of elk activity in the area and this bull seemed to be in constant motion -- smelling the air like in the top frame, or bugling loudly down the valley in the one above.

Rutting bull tule elk throwing grass

The high levels of hormones also had him aggressively showing off, including roughing up the lupine and grasses of the coastal scrub before loudly bugling again.

Loud tule elk bugle in Point Reyes


Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Dominant bull tule elk, Point Reyes National Seashore

Rutting bull tule elk in wildflowers

The sound of a bugling tule elk in the rut is truly spectacular. This large dominant bull, the same individual I included in my post yesterday, was keeping close tabs on his harem and bugling regularly and loudly on this August morning in 2011.

Tule elk starting to bugle in Point Reyes

It was awesome to observe and hear this behavior from close range along the road down to Drake's Beach. Especially as he let out one of his long, loud calls and you could hear it echo down the valleys -- often eliciting a response from a rival.

Dominant bull tule elk bugling in Point Reyes


Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Tule elk rut in Point Reyes National Seashore

Dominant bull tule elk in Point Reyes National Seashore

August was always a fun time to be in Point Reyes National Seashore, as the tule elk rut was kicking into high gear. This large bull was king of his harem along the road to Drake's Beach in 2011. On multiple occasions that summer I had a chance to watch him protect his herd and respond to the bugles of rival bulls from across the valleys. His large palmated antlers were a distinguishing feature, but the identification was even easier since he walked with an obvious limp. I'd be curious to know if he was able to hold his throne again in future years and when his reign came to an end.

Tule elk bull walking through his harem in Point Reyes National Seashore


Saturday, August 17, 2019

Piping plover chick, Sandy Point State Reservation

Piping plover chick at Sandy Point State Reservation, Massachusetts

A young piping plover chick pauses for a moment and gives me a nice profile view while exploring the beach at Sandy Point State Reservation.


Friday, August 16, 2019

Pine trees and granite on Schoodic Head, Acadia National Park

Pine trees and granite near the summit of Schoodic Head in Acadia

On a trip to Acadia a few years ago we drove over to the much quieter side of the park on the Schoodic Peninsula. We did the nice little trail up Schoodic Head, which offered some great views back across Frenchman Bay of Mount Desert Island. For as centered as we normally are around Cadillac Mountain while we're in the park, it was fun to see it from across the water.

Islands in Frenchman Bay from Schoodic Head in Acadia National Park


Thursday, August 15, 2019

The Bubbles over Jordan Pond, Acadia National Park

Wildlife Photography by Pat Ulrich: Acadia National Park &emdash; Jordan Pond in Acadia National Park

This lovely pair of mountains are an iconic view in Acadia National Park as they rise over Jordan Pond. This particular hike around the lake was under heavily overcast skies, giving an even more serene feel to the still water. Looking back at these images is making me hungry for popovers and strawberry jam!

Wildlife Photography by Pat Ulrich: Acadia National Park &emdash; Jordan Pond in Acadia National Park


Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Sandpipers bracing against wind blown sand, Plymouth Beach

Dunlin in blowing sand on the beach in Massachusetts

I've written about this a few times before, but a windy day along the beach really shows how tough these sandpipers are to withstand the harsh conditions of their life on the coast. On this blustery day, the wind repeatedly blasted the shorebirds with sand as they attempted to rest.

Dunlin being pelted with blowing sand on the beach

In the photo above, the wind was just starting to rise and a few individual grains of sand are visible bouncing off of the face of the dunlin in the foreground. A few moments later, the gust picked up speed and the scene started to dissolve in a cloud of blowing sand. I found it interesting to observe how the birds would instinctively turn directly into the wind as they brace against it, which makes sense given that they are aerodynamic in flight.

Shorebirds in a small sand storm on Plmouth Beach

Submitted to this week's Wild Bird Wednesday.



Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Take your rest, Sanderlings on Plymouth Beach

Two sanderlings resting with their feet in the sand on Plymouth Beach

For as perfectly adapted to the coastal life as shorebirds are, it's interesting to see that even their feet can sink into the wet sand if they're stationary for long enough. This pair of sanderlings was part of a larger group that was resting on Plymouth Beach as the water receded.


Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Piping plover finished brooding, Sandy Point State Reservation

Piping plover chick stepping out from under its parent's feathers

This piping plover chick was all warmed up and ready to slip out from under its parent's feathers. After watching these adorable little chicks earlier in the summer, it was great to see so many fledged piping plovers on the beach this past weekend. Hopefully it was a good year for their breeding numbers on Plum Island.


Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Semipalmated sandpiper probing the sand, Parker River NWR

Semipalmated sandpiper with its bill in the sand in Massachusetts

With their rapid sewing machine motion as they probe the wet sand, it can be challenging to get a tack-sharp shot of a sandpiper with its beak deep in the sand -- but this frame kept all the details. I didn't see what it pulled up, but hopefully it was tasty.


Monday, August 5, 2019

Semipalmated sandpiper, Parker River National Wildlife Refuge

Semipalmated sandpiper stalking the tidal flats in Massachusetts

I went out for a sunrise session on Plum Island yesterday in the hope of finding some friendly sandpipers. I started at Sandy Point State Reservation, and when the light was beautiful, the peeps were skittish. It was a bit disappointing to see only a few small flocks of sandpipers despite the large swaths of exposed tidal flats. After losing the early light with nothing to show for it, I decided to head up the island and try one of the newly opened stretches of beach (Lots 6 & 7 both had beach access again, now that the piping plovers have fledged). I could see larger flocks of shorebirds to the north in the area that was still closed for nesting, and just a small flock of 4 semipalmated sandpipers was cruising the beach to the south. The light wasn't great and I didn't come back with too many keepers in the bunch, but it was a treat to quickly earn their trust as we leap-frogged each other down the beach. They were looking for food at the high edge of the tidal flats, and I could reliably drop myself 15 yards in front of them and wait for them to approach and pass at close range in front of my lens. We did this over an over again as we made our way down the beach together.


Friday, August 2, 2019

Semipalmated sandpiper in evening light, Sandy Point State Reservation

Semipalmated sandpiper on the beach in evening light in Massachusetts

Digging deep into the archives for this one. It was taken on a terrific fall evening in 2012 that I spent with a flock of mixed shorebirds resting and preening on the beach. It was heavy overcast for most of my time there, but as the sun got closer to the horizon, it slipped below the cloud layer and cast beautiful warm light over everything -- including this semipalmated sandpiper resting near an old log on the beach.


Thursday, August 1, 2019

Sanderling in water, Parker River National Wildlife Refuge

Sanderling tracing a line of water at Parker River National Wildlife Refuge

I've thoroughly enjoyed my summer opportunities to photograph piping plover chicks, but I'm ready to do some sandpiper photography! It's exciting to see the bird reports that they're starting to arrive on Plum Island, and I'm hoping to get out to find a flock soon.

Sanderling with water droplets in Massachusetts