While walking along the Sammammish River Trail, a couple of Mallard Ducks flew by me at low level. I pulled the camera up at short notice to get a shot. No time to change the settings so this is what I got on the spur of the moment. As it happens, the shutter speed did a nice job of blurring out the background and making them look super speedy. I kind of like it!
In the late 90s, I made a very brief trip to South Africa for work. I had one day spare while I was there and so took a trip to Pilanesburg National Park, a wildlife reserve. I spent a day driving around looking at various different wild animals, mostly at a great distance. Since it was the middle of the day, lots of the interesting stuff was out of sight. Near the end of my time there, I took a drive down a side road to a watering hole that was supposed to be popular with hippos. I find hippos fascinating so was hoping to see some. No such luck.
As I drove back up towards the main road and started contemplating a return to Johannesburg, I saw a bunch of cars on the main road that had stopped. I slowed down, figuring that they had seen something off to one side so I started looking. Sure enough, they had. An elephant was wandering through the trees and coming straight for me. I sat watching it approach. It didn’t seem bothered that I was there and came straight for the car. When I realized that it was going to come right through me, I put the car in reverse and quickly got out of the way – grabbing a close up shot as I did so. It came on to the road and turned away from me walking towards a camper van. The van soon came to the same conclusion that I had. The elephant wasn’t interested in stopping or going around them so they had to reverse up the road as the elephant paced them appropriately. Finally it turned off and I imagine they breathed a sigh of relief.
With mum visiting from the UK, we took a walk along the Sammamish River Trail. The river was very high as a result of the heavy rains we had experienced in the preceding days. The river has otters living in it and I was hoping we might see one. As it turned out, we saw four. A group of four otters was moving up river diving for food as they went. I wished I had brought a longer lens with me but you go with what you have. Of course, they chose to stay on the other side of the river for much of the time but it was fun to watch them anyway. They got a lot of attention from the other people on the trail too.
I took a walk by Bachman Lake next to Dallas Love Field as part of my weekend in the area. Clearly I was there because of the planes but there was a lot of bird activity over the lake. Given how this was right under the approach to the airport, I was surprised that they weren’t doing anything to deter the birds. Putting that aside, I was happy to see a lot of cormorants. I was surprised to see how they were hanging out together.
Cormorants tend to rest in larger groups. You might see them on pylons near the water or piles in the water in large groups providing some safety in numbers. However, they tend to go off hunting alone. I have seen the occasional pair of cormorants flying together but most of the time they are on their own. The Bachman Lake residents were very different. They were flying around in a large flock. They circled around the lake and then landed in a large group on the water. They would then take off together and fly around as a group again. I wonder if this is common in other areas.
During Wild Bites, mentioned in this post, we visited the rhino enclosure. There were two rhinos inside munching on their evening feed. The enclosure was not ideal for getting photos as they were indoors and there was a lot in the way. However, they did head outside a couple of times. I thought this might be my opportunity. There were two areas where you could view them while outside and, while they could move between them quickly, to get around the outside required a bit more speed. I looked at which way I thought the rhinos were heading. They decided to change their minds and go the other way. I was scurrying around like an idiot trying to get in position. I never did a good job of it sadly.
The Wild Bites food stands were scattered around the zoo. One of the restaurants was serving a salmon dish. They were set up right next to the bear enclosure. The two brown bears in the enclosure seemed to be very interested in the food. The smell of the fish was wafting in their direction and their noses were twitching like crazy. They had been given their own food at the same time but I think that they were a lot more interested in our stuff than theirs. I can’t say I blame them because it did taste great.
Twice a day at the Fort Worth stock yards, they do a drive of the long horn cattle. They take them through the street up the center of the yards with the crowds gathered around. They are very specific about where you can be. There are markers that you must stay behind and they police latecomers closely to not try and get in front of those that have been waiting. Also, you are not allowed to be low down. Crouching is not allowed. I think it might be so you can move away quickly if required.
The cowboys herd the cattle on horseback. The cattle themselves seemed pretty docile on this occasion. They are not kidding when they are called long horn cattle. The horns on these creatures are absolutely enormous. They move relatively slowly up the street so, once they had passed us and the crowd started to disperse, I was able to walk up the street quickly and get to the other end before they had all gone through.
If you don’t like bugs, this post isn’t for you. While up in the Cascades, we saw this web full of caterpillars. I don’t know the purpose of them being together in these numbers. Perhaps they are all recently hatched (is that the right term for a caterpillar) and have yet to go on their way or maybe there is another reason. Either way, there were a lot of them in one place. If you are a caterpillar predator, I wonder why this was not seen as a buffet?
Having had some success with the GoPro as discussed in a previous post, I decided to play with the slow motion capabilities of the camera to get some different shots. The nice thing with a GoPro is that you can put it almost anywhere to get different angles. While playing with this, some hummers came in to feed and, since I had my phone with me, I shot some video with that too. They really didn’t seem too bothered by my presence. Here is some more video results.
Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle was holding a fundraising event this summer. It was called Wild Bites. Taking place in the evening, it consisted of a bunch of Seattle restauranteurs having food stands throughout the zoo along with some drinks stands. You could wander around between the enclosures, take a look at the animals, stop for some snacks themed on the part of the zoo they were in and grab a drink too.
It was an enjoyable evening with some really interesting food and a nice atmosphere. I will have some follow up posts with specific animals from the evening but overall we had a really nice time. A minor problem was that a lot of the animals seemed to turn in for the evening once normal closing time came around. We found quite a few were settling down or were already asleep. Also, the drink stands seemed to run out of stuff later in the evening and, since we had waited to sample some of their stuff, to find it was out seemed a bit off.
Still, it was a nice evening and the zoo was a great place to wander as the light gently faded away. It was all raising money for the zoo too so a worthwhile cause. Keep an eye out for something similar if you live in the area.