Category Archives: Point Reyes National Seashore

Young Bull Tule Elk Late To The Party

Young Bull Tule Elk Late To The Party, Point Reyes National Seashore, California, August 31, 2017  ©2017 Ben Gundy, all rights reserved.

This image is my last tule elk image in the series. Please see my other two previous blog posts on these interesting bull tule elk.

This is the last tule elk that Jeff and I photographed. He was in front of us this time, 180 degrees from the last big bull tule elk. Notice how the light is different and the fog is thicker. My Canon 1D Mark IV struggled with the auto focusing so I had to use manual focus, 10 frames per second helped a lot getting the bull jumping over the fence just at the right moment.

This young bull tule elk was the last one to join the others just over the rise in the fog. He didn’t have a chance with the females but his high testosterone level didn’t care. After we got our images we headed up the road after our next photo opportunity.

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The Reining Champ, Big Bull Tule Elk

The Reining Champ, Big Bull Tule Elk, Point Reyes National Seashore, California, August 31,02017  ©2017 Ben Gundy, all rights reserved.

This is a prime example of a big bull  tule elk. I am not sure about the size of a tule bull elk compared to a prime bull elk in the Tetons/Yellowstone area. Again, taken in the fog, this bull elk was behind one or two female elk crossing a road, disappearing over a slight rise into the fog. There was a lot of bugling going on from two or three bull’s and you could hear the antlers clashing from two bulls fighting for supremacy and the females. We dared go over to where all the bugling and fighting was taking place, probably 150 to 200 yards out. In rutting season you don’t want to be near a hyper sensed bull elk in rut. Google, rutting elk near Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park for some interesting stories. All in all, we were enjoying all the elk bugling in the quiet fog shrouded air.

Again, auto focusing in the fog is difficult, you may need to manual focus your camera on your subject.

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Adolescent Bull Tule Elk With Battle Damaged Antlers

Adolescent Bull Tule Elk With Battle Damaged Antlers, Point Reyes National Seashore, California, August 31, 2017  ©2017 Ben Gundy, all rights reserved.

Before Jeff and I photographed the black-tailed doe hiding in the grass, the whole area was socked in with fog. Both Jeff and myself wanted to shoot elk in the fog, Daniel said sure thing. Actually, it didn’t take us long to find a Tule Elk along the road in the fog. Again Jeff and I photographed through the side windows of Daniel’s vehicle. We were pretty excited by our captures of this adolescent bull elk. I didn’t realize that his antlers were damaged until I got home and processed the Canon files in Lightroom. Damaged in battle no doubt as August is the Tule Elk’s rutting season.

Focusing in the fog is difficult using your cameras auto focus feature. My Canon 1D Mark IV did a pretty good job of it but when it was off, it was way off. Sometimes you just need to use manual focus on your subject.

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Black-tailed Doe Hiding In Grass

Black-tailed Doe Hiding In Grass, Point Reyes National Seashore, California  ©2017 Ben Gundy – all rights reserved.

Well, not so much hiding, maybe bedding down may be the appropriate description. Jeff, Daniel, and I were traveling down a local road looking for more wildlife and came across two black-tailed does along side the road. Since we were inside the vehicle the deer paid us no mind. Daniel moved his vehicle around so Jeff and I could shoot from inside his vehicle out the windows. The photography was pretty easy and we did not spook the deer. After a few minutes shooting we left the does alone and headed down the road to the next photography opportunity.

There are three species of deer in the park; black-tailed, fallow, and axis. The fallow and axis are non-native to the area leaving the black-tailed deer native to the area and most/all of California.

I would imagine it would be rutting season for the black-tailed deer in the park. However, I/we did not see any bucks hanging around anywhere during our short stay. Usually, where the does are the bucks would be close by…

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River Otters In The Pacific Ocean

River Otters In The Pacific Ocean, Point Reyes, California, August 31, 2017  ©2017 Ben Gundy, all rights reserved.

My photography friend Jeff Bushnell and I hired guide, Daniel Dietrich of Point Reyes Safaris , for a half day safari in Point Reyes National Seashore in northern California.  Both Jeff and I had a wildlife list that we gave to Daniel verbally so he could plan the half day. Daniel has seen the otters down off of Limantour Beach but nothing was guaranteed. When we arrived at the beach we did not see any river otters around so we headed along the trail to a viewing area for Elephant Seals. A little ways down the trail he mentioned for us to come over to a better viewing spot and sure enough, the river otters were out in the surf, a mother and her two pups.

Daniel explained that this family has adapted to hunting for food out in the ocean when food is not that plentiful in the fresh water streams in Point Reyes National Seashore. The mother parks the pups just beyond the surf and heads out towards floating seabirds. She dives under them, grabbing them and pulling them straight down until they drown. She brings the birds back in towards the pups and they all dine on the bird on the beach or available rocks. Daniel also noted that the family eats more than just seabirds. He has observed them eating a bat ray that the mother dragged in.

I have never seen or heard of fresh water river otters adapting to the ocean before today, a first for me. Yes, there are great whites out there and one was observed by Daniel right off the surf. Hopefully the great whites are more interested in the elephant seals than this otter family.

I will be posting additional post from our great little adventure to Point Reyes National Seashore in the coming days. I hope you enjoy the posts…

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