Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Elephant seal after dusk

Elephant seal at dusk

I'll begin my series of elephant seals from our weekend trip to Ano Nuevo State Reserve with a few shots that were taken right at the end of our terrific trip. After our late afternoon tour we went back down to "Losers Beach" to spend the final minutes of light with some big brutes that usually camp out there. We had a chance to watch a younger guy displaying his toughness for a while, and as the last bit of light slipped out from behind the clouds and below the horizon I took a few final shots of this beast who was right near the stairs from the beach.

Elephant seal after sunset

My wife had a lens with a wider zoom range, and she took some wonderful shots of the seals as part of their environment. Here's one of my favorites, with the last sliver of sunset included.

Last sliver of light

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Great weekend for wildlife

I had a fantastic weekend for experiencing and photographing wildlife. We took a hike out to the end of Tomales Point in Point Reyes National Seashore, which goes through the Tule Elk Reserve there. We must have seen at least 100 elk along the trail! Then we also took our annual trip to Ano Nuevo State Reserve to see the elephant seals and their breeding season antics. As you can see here, this image is neither an elk or seal, but it was a shot that I had already processed and was just waiting to be uploaded. So since I have a few thousand shots to go through from this weekend and haven't had the time to do so yet, this is what I've got for now.

In the meantime, a sparrow

This shot was taken in a small dog park along the Bay Trail in Marin County near Bothin Marsh on Richardson Bay. I had used up the good morning light in the marsh but decided to wander up the trail to see if there was anything else interesting around. I wasn't expecting much, but a group of these little guys were playing in the shadows of some trees that hadn't yet seen the light of morning. This gave me some nice even lighting instead of the harshness that was in the rest of the park.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Birds from the San Diego Zoo -- Part 4

There were a ton of aviaries within the three parks we visited (San Diego Zoo, The San Diego Zoo Wild Animal Park, and Sea World), which made for some great opportunities to photograph birds up close.
Birds -- SD Zoo Part 4

It felt like there were flamingos (both African and Caribbean) everywhere, and it was hard to pick just one shot to include.

This spoonbill was in the first exhibit we visited (of course it would be an aviary if I'm leading the way!) and you can see the sparkle of the early morning light in its eye.

I'm not sure what kind of bird this is, but I love that beautiful teal color
Pretty teal bird

The penguin exhibit at SeaWorld was really cool -- they had both Emperor penguins (pictured) and King penguins, which are the two largest species.
Emperor Penguins

If you enjoyed these images, please view more of my bird photographs in my Birds Galleries.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Out of Africa -- San Diego Zoo, Part 3

Out of Africa -- SD Zoo Part 3

Another post in my San Diego Zoo and Wild Animal Park series from our December trip there. To try to have some logical grouping of the photos I wanted to share, I've picked a handful of species that come from the African continent.

We took the tram tour through the Wild Animal Park, which was themed to be the African plains, and was quite nice, although its not included in the general admission price, and is the only way to see a large part of the park. We got to see a variety of antelope, the only species of African deer, multiple rhino species, as well as this sleepy young giraffe.
Sleepy giraffe

When I was young, warthogs were one of my favorite animals (which my mom still laughs about), but as I've gotten older, I think the Red River Hog has replaced them on my list. These guys are just a bit more charismatic, and you have to love that gorgeous color.
Red River Hog with Swamp Monkey

The hippo exhibit was really great with the large underwater viewing area. The first time we stopped by, the hippo pair was on its way out of the water and went into the back where you couldn't really see them. We were disappointed and decided to come back later -- and we just happened to pick the perfect time to do so, as it was just when they were coming back into the water. This male took a lap around the tank then came over to check me out eye-to-eye (photo by my wife).
Friendly hippo

This cute little klipspringer was in the African Kopje (Rock Outcrop) exhibit. They had really interesting hooves that looked as if they stood on their tip toes. I suspect it was to help it keep its grip on its world of jumping between rocks. It rained a lot while we were in the park, but this is one of the few shots where I brought the camera out -- and I liked how the drops showed up with the longer shutter speeds.
Klipspringer in the rain

Here's another zebra shot, since they put on a nice show for us

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Happy New Year & Favorites of 2009

I'm back in Northern California after our very busy but great holiday travels, and I wanted to wish you all a (belated) Happy New Year! I still have a handful of images from late 2009 that I haven't had the chance to post yet (including probably two more sets from the San Diego Zoo), but I thought I would start off a new year with a recap of my favorite photos that I took in 2009 (as inspired by Jim Goldstein's annual Blog Project). Last year was a really fun year for me photographically, as I had some of the best wildlife encounters I've ever experienced, as well as upgrades to both a longer lens and a new camera.

In no particular order, here's my Fine Fifteen from 2009.

Without a doubt this was one of my favorite shots from last year -- it even appeared as an editor's choice in the Autumn Issue of The Nature Conservancy's magazine.
Photograph of light streaming through a foggy forest in Tomales Bay State Park

When I went to Ano Nuevo State Reserve in January, we opted for a late day tour, since we had done an early one the previous year. It turned out that we were always facing into the sun when viewing the elephant seals, which made for poor photo conditions. However, we luckily decided to walk one of the other beaches in the park for the sunset, and were treated to great light on three spectacular giants.
Photograph of a northern elephant seal posturing at Ano Nuevo State Reserve

As I wrote about when I posted this one, I am still searching for my 'perfect' shot of the bridge in the fog, but this one did turn out nicely.
Photograph of the Golden Gate Bridge draped in fog at sunrise

My Halloween outing to Point Reyes was one of my favorite wildlife experiences I've ever had (posted as a four part series, see part one here). I had never before spent time with a wild coyote up close, and the deer gave some great poses too. This was one of those times that the experience makes the images better in my mind than they may actually be, and I had to limit myself to picking just two.
Photograph of a mule deer doe on the alert

Spending this much time with a coyote is something I won't soon forget.
Photograph of a coyote on a foggy morning in Point Reyes National Seashore

Over the summer, I had the opportunity to get a nice series of this willet in the overcast early morning light.
Photograph of a friendly willet in Point Reyes National Seashore

This shot was an attempt on my part to make the conscious effort to get out of my comfort zone and take images that were not wildlife based. There was something attractive to me about this tumbleweed shape in the sands of Point Reyes.
Photograph of beach tumbleweed in Point Reyes

A classic pose of a dowitcher preening from the ponds at Radio Road.
Photograph of a dowitcher standing tall while preening

This was the closest I've ever been able to get to oystercatchers, as a trio of them were quite relaxed along the rocks at Point Lobos State Reserve. The overcast skies made for some dreary scenery, but also for a great exposure of their black plumage against the sandstone.
Photographic portrait of a black oystercatcher at Point Lobos State Reserve

Taking a friendly charge from this guy was quite a thrill, and he gave me this awesome pose as my prize for not ducking under the bench I was sitting on.
Mule deer buck in Point Reyes National Seashore

I'm a sucker for both preening birds and Northern Shovelers -- so put them together, and this had to be one of my favorites.
Photograph of a northern shoveler drake preening

This great blue heron was kind enough to allow me to work my way in quite close for some full-frame portraits.
Photographic portrait of a great blue heron

After finding very few birds along the beach at Limantour Spit, this sparrow was waiting for me in the parking lot when I returned to the car.
White-crowned sparrow in Point Reyes National Seashore

It was a pleasure to watch a small group of godwits feeding in the surf at Drake's Beach in Point Reyes.
Photograph of three marbled godwits in Point Reyes

A small waterfall on Orcas Island in the San Juan Islands, WA.
Photograph of a waterfall along Cascade Creek

Here's to hoping that 2010 gives all of us even more memories, and some stunning photos too.