Wild Wednesday 46/52 Tule Elk

Copyright ©2018 Deborah M. Zajac. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

The smokey morning air from the Northern California Camp Fire diffused the morning sun giving the look of Golden Hour on the Tule Elk in the field.

Tule Elk Herd

The largest male with that beautiful rack is the Alpha Male with part of his herd and a couple of young bachelors in Central Valley at the San Luis National Wildlife Refuge.

Nikon D810| Nikkor 200-500mm @500mm| Hoodman STEEL Digital Film| PS CC 2019

more to come…

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Tule Elk

Copyright © 2011 Deborah M. Zajac.  All Rights Reserved.
Yesterday myself,  and  friend Rainey Shuler, who I’ve blogged about before here went out to San Luis Wildlife Refuge to do a little birding photography. We had hoped there would be some interesting and uncommon birds there.
On the way we ran into a “Road Closed” baracade so we stopped in another Refuge to get some back road directions, and while talking to the hunters and Ranger there we learned there was a Tule Elk herd at the Refuge we wanted to go to. So getting the directions we needed we headed out.  We were in luck! These Elk in the photo above weren’t too far from the road.

Rainey and I set up our tripods and took some photos of the Elk. When we started shooting the sun was blocked by morning fog and mist, but soon the sun began to burn through the haze to light up the meadow and Elk  just right . About the same time these two started sparring. It was great fun to discover this herd here, and more exciting to see this since I didn’t see any of this behavior while viewing the Tule Elk in Northern CA these past 2 years.

In addition to these magnificent Elk we saw a Coyote, Hawks, Kites- the bird, Heron, Egrets, and a little bird I’ve not identified yet.  We left this refuge and headed over to the Merced National Wildlife Refuge, and met up with another friend for lunch. I’ll be posting a few of the exciting birds I saw there in the coming days. It was a good day for birding and photography, but made even better by the company of wonderful friends.

Nikon D300s| Nikkor 300mm + 1.4x Tamron extender effective range 420mm| f5.6| 1/1600second| ISO 500| Manual Mode| Tripod

A Week-end on the Wild Side

A week-end full of wildlife photography that is.

I spent Sat. with a Meet up group out in Moss Landing, CA at Elkhorn Slough. We took a pontoon boat out in the slough and saw oodles of Otters, pups, seals, seal pups, and shore birds. The weather was warm, but overcast throughout most the day.

Here are Mom and pup. Mom trying to relax and the pup was as curious about us as we were about them.

Copyright © 2010 Deborah M. Zajac. All Rights Reserved.

These guys eat 25% of their body weight in clams a day! They are very cute.

Sunday morning myself and 2 friends headed back up North to Point Reyes National Seashore’s Tule Elk Reserve to hike out to Tomales Bay Point to photograph the Tule Elk again ,and some coastal scenics. We had rain in the forecast and were hoping for big dramatic clouds and nice moody scenes along the rocky coast line.

It drizzled the whole 2.5 hour drive up. As we headed out on the trail to Tomales Point it was still drizzling, and the sky was gray with no definition in the sky or clouds. Just overcast.

We reached the pond 3 miles out- there was an Alpha Male with about 25 females and 4 calves in his Harem.
Up on the hill was another male calling the females. He had about 5 females which deserted him for the Bigger Tule Elk down by the pond. He came down the hill and we hoped there would be a battle over the Harem.
The Bull on the hill didn’t put up a fight he let his females go. There was a lot of bugle calling and half hearted, and “I mean business ” charges from the Alpha Male which was enough to scare the Bull on the hill away.
He lost all his females to the Older Bull who had about 30 females in his Harem when we left them to continue out to Tomales Point.

The hike out to the point is 4.7 miles. On the way back my legs were tired. I carried with me the D300s, 17-35mm f2.8, and the 300mm f4 along with accessories and filters, lunch, water, tripod, and trail stool. I think my load was 20 pounds. Right now this is my current limit loaded with all this gear.

PP- Vibrance, clarity, a little fill light, some USM, and resized.

Copyright © 2010 Deborah M. Zajac. All Rights Reserved.

“Herding the new additions” Copyright © 2010 Deborah M. Zajac. All Rights Reserved.

We were about to leave and continue our hike as we thought the action was over. There wouldn’t be a fight and the Alpha was herding the new females into the Harem, and giving them a thorough sniffing and sizing up. Sensing the Alpha was distracted the young bull took advantage and crept around the hill and down into the herd undetected…but only for a few minutes. Once the Alpha caught scent of the other bull, he called and charged! All the females moved out of the way as the Alpha charged the young bull. The youngster ran right by us and stopped just 6 feet away from us! Unfortunately, we had packed up all our gear to make the hike easier. Still,  it was so thrilling to be that close to them!

As we headed down the trail the young bull took off and we didn’t see him until we  were on the way back.

Out at Tomales Point the sky didn’t have the drama or definition we had hoped for in the sky, but the scenery was beautiful none the less.

Copyright © 2010 Deborah M. Zajac. All Rights Reserved.

Here at the point where the rain runs off were the most interesting and beautiful gullies, and patterns in the cliff.

We left the Point at 4PM knowing it would take us about 2.5 hours to hike back out. We saw a lot more Tule Elk at the pond. More of the unattached males were on the other side of the pond-away from the Alpha and his Harem. We didn’t stop to take photos but did pause a minute to look. Further up the trail the fog rolled in. I spent the whole day damp. Out of the fog we saw on the trail ahead of us 3 females and then we spied another Harem. We walked cautiously past them. Fortunately they were just as cautious about us and moved off the trail inland a little further.

We made it out to the parking lot in 2 hours 15 minutes. We were in dire need of dinner and I really wanted a pot of hot tea! We dined in Inverness at Priscilla’s Cafe. It was wonderful! I had a crab sandwich, mixed green salad, and mixed berry pie for dessert.

Copyright © 2010 Deborah M. Zajac. All Rights Reserved.

After dinner we walked across the street to where the Point Reyes is beached. I took a photos of her a few weeks ago when another friend and I came up. This time a night shot was what we were after. One of my companions had a big LED flash-light he used to light up the boat.

Copyright © 2010 Deborah M. Zajac. All Rights Reserved.

Using a technique called light painting he painted the boat, and foreground with light. I set up my cameras for a long exposure. This was a 67 second exposure.

On the way home I saw the Golden Gate bridge with the fog just starting to come in, and the city lights twinkling like jewels through it and wanted to stop to take one last shot before continuing southward home. My friend pulled over at the Marina Headlands where we spent a good half hour shooting the city and the bridge.

Copyright © 2010 Deborah M. Zajac. All Rights Reserved.

This was 59 second exposure .  I was happy to see I captured some Moon beams and a star too!

This was a lovely last shot for my week-end on the Wildside. Life is good!

Nikon D300s, Nikkor 300mm f4, Nikkor 17-35mm f2.8, Sundisk Ultra SDHC Digital Film