Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Favorite Photos from 2013

Yes, it's that time of year again.  Time to reflect upon the adventures we had in 2013 and look through all the photos that take us back to relive those adventures.  It's not easy to narrow down the photo selection to just a few.  In fact, I have given up trying to keep it to a "Top 10".

For us, our photos are about the experience they help us remember.  Our favorites are seldom perfect photos, but to us they represent perfect moments. That's what photography should be all about...capturing those perfect moments and keeping them around forever.

Short-eared Owl, Delevan National Wildlife Refuge
Short-eared Owl

Short-eared owls winter in the Sacramento Valley each year.  We have spotted them before but have never gotten a decent photo.  Last January, on a trip to the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Complex, this very cooperative owl posed on a fence post just long enough to get off a few frames from the car.  Seeing an owl is always exciting.  Seeing one close-up in broad daylight is awesome.

Coyote, Point Reyes National Seashore
Coyote at Dawn

It's hard to beat a clear crisp dewy morning at Point Reyes.  Unless of course a fantastic looking coyote happens to trot across the road into the meadow and look back at the crazy photographer guy...

Tule Elk, Point Reyes National Seashore
Tule Elk

We have seen thousands of elk in our travels but there is something infinitely cool about seeing elk at Point Reyes with the coastal fog swirling and the blue Pacific Ocean in the background. 

Pierce Point Ranch, Point Reyes National Seashore
Pierce Point Ranch in Fog

A whole 4 minutes after taking the elk photo, I took our next favorite.  The swirling fog had dissipated over the hills around us and had settled down like a blanket over Pierce Point Ranch.

Western Fence Lizard, Pinnacles National Park
Western Fence Lizard Displaying

Not only can this lizard do more pushups than me, it's slightly more colorful as well.  Of course, it's trying to attract a mate.  I don't think a bright blue belly would help me in that department at all.

San Joaquin Antelope Squirrel, Carrizo Plain National Monument
San Joaquin Antelope Squirrel

We went to Carrizo trying to find the endangered San Joaquin Kit Fox.  While we struck out with the foxes, we did have great fun watching these other endangered critters run around foraging for food.

Moose, Lake Coeur d'Alene, Idaho
Moose in Hiding

I spent the first 17 summers of my life at Lake Coeur d'Alene and no one ever spotted moose in this area.  So, imagine my surprise when we saw 4 moose in one night there last June.  Not only is this shot one of our favorites, I can't even claim it as my own. My wife took the picture.

Cinnamon Black Bear, Yellowstone National Park
Cinnamon Black Bear

Green meadow, yellow flowers and a cooperative bear.  It's hard to ask for anything more than that.  Although it would have been nice if I had actually taken the photo.  This one was taken by my wife  from the car window.  She took maybe 10 pictures all year and 2 made it into our favorites list. That's 20%.  I probably took 10,000 pictures this year.  Needless to say my percentage is not as good.

Red Fox, Yellowstone National Park

The story behind this photo is too long to tell.  Suffice it to say, this male fox and his mate recently lost all their kits to a badger.  This photo was taken a few days later when the couple returned to the den to dig out the kit remains and hold what could best be described as a memorial for them.  It was a very emotional event to witness.  The complete story is told here.

Yellow-bellied Marmot, Beartooth Highway, Wyoming
Yellow-bellied Marmot

On our 8th visit to Yellowstone, we finally made the drive along the Beartooth Highway.  Boy, it is one spectacular drive.  While we missed seeing any Mountain Goats, the scenery was fantastic and some marmots were quite curious.

Orphaned Red Fox Kit, Silver Gate Montana
Red Fox Kit Posing

Last, but certainly not least, is our favorite photo.  Not because the photo is of high quality, because it's not (just look at that wood beam).  But, because of the experience surrounding this photo.  We spent over 1/2 hour with this orphaned fox kit watching it dig, pounce, play with bark, and actually catch and eat a worm or two.  This was our first encounter with fox kits and it will be a tough one to beat.  We know at least one kit in this litter of three survived.  So, we hope it grows up to produce a litter of its own some day.

Happy New Year everyone!!