Category Archives: wildlife

Otter Underwater

Photographing animals underwater through glass walls on their enclosures is a bit hit or miss.  The otters in one of the enclosures at Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo were playing near the glass a lot so I figured I would give it a go.  You aren’t going to get razor sharp shots since that glass is very thick but sometimes it can work out okay.  This otter was more than happy to perform for the camera.

Salamander On Our Path

Time to put out the trash.  I wheeled two of our bins out to the curb one evening.  As I walked back in, a saw what looked like something colorful on the ground under where one of the bins had been.  I looked closer and realized it was a little creature.  I am not a specialist but I think it is a salamander.  It stayed where it was long enough for me to grab the camera and the macro lens and get a few shots.  There was very little light so I had the ISO cranked up high.  I took a bunch of shots to focus stack and a benefit of doing this was that it seems to have taken the noise levels down a notch.  Now I pay more attention when rolling the trash out to avoid squashing anyone living in the damp space underneath!

Sea Eagles

Woodland Park Zoo has a pair of Stellar Sea Eagles in an enclosure.  The Sea Eagle is a big bird.  This pair were pretty active as well.  They were making a lot of noise and flapping around the enclosure not stopping at any one spot for long.  It made for a fun time trying to get some shots of them.  Shooting through the enclosure is a bit tricky but, being close enough to it allowed everything to blur out and the shots worked out pretty well.  They are an intense looking creature.

Bear Out in the Sun

Woodland Park Zoo used to have a pair of grizzly bears.  They made an appearance on this blog when we went to a fundraiser there which had a food stand cooking fish next to their enclosure which certainly got their attention.  Sadly, since that visit, one of the bears has died.  The remaining bear is still in the enclosure on its own.  With the sun out during our visit, it was wandering around a lot of its space.  We had a really good view of it as it came towards us.

At one point, the bear climbed up on a rocky outcrop.  It was backlit where we were.  I didn’t realize that just around the corner from us was a spot that looked up at this outcrop.  Anyone standing that at the time would have had a really impressive view up at the bear.  Would have been a good shot but never mind.

Since we were there on a Friday, it wasn’t terribly busy.  It was strange to see how quickly people wandered away.  A few minutes patience rewarded us with some really nice time watching the bear exploring the enclosure for snacks hidden by the staff.

Crazy Single Tree – I Think

As we walked through the grounds of Chateau Ste. Michelle after the Avants car event, we came across this tree.  As we looked at it we concluded that it was a single tree that was coming out of the ground in various places.  However, we are not arborists so could be completely wrong.  It just looks like it springs from a single source under ground and breaks the surface in various places.  If you know about trees and more specifically this tree, let me know.

Hippo Excursion Out of the Water

As goes large African animals, one of my favorites is the hippopotamus.  I’m not sure exactly what it is about them that appeals to me so much but I find them fascinating.  They can often be a bit disappointing at a zoo since they will spend long periods of time doing very little.  However, we have had some good luck over the years.  The one at Brookfield Zoo in Chicago once gave us an interesting moment and San Diego Zoo had a baby hippo swimming around during a visit there.

There are two hippos in Woodland Park Zoo and, when we arrived, they were both almost totally submerged in their pond taking it easy.  This does not make for much photo action.  Fortunately, a little patience paid off and one of them surfaced and proceeded (slowly) to exit the pond.  It wandered around for a short while before returning to the water and taking up its previous position.

This disturbance caused the other hippo to wake up for a while.  It didn’t exit the water but it did get its head above the surface and then it yawned a few times.  Hippos have amazing mouths and a yawn makes them look so dramatic.  I was absolutely delighted.  A couple of yawns and then it was back to submerged and napping.  I know they can be incredibly dangerous but they are still one of my favorite creatures.

Baby Gorilla At Woodland Park

One of the things that we were hoping to see during our visit to the zoo was the baby gorilla that was recently born there.  Of course, when wanting to see something at the zoo, you are always up against the problem that the animals are not aware of or interested in what you want.  They are doing their thing.  The parents of the baby were sitting up in a corner of the enclosure, a long way from everything else.  You could just get a view of them from a certain angle.

Then, our luck improved.  The mother walked down the to bottom of the enclosure near the spectators.  The baby was clinging to her arm as she came down.  When she stopped, it would jump off and run around a bit before grabbing back onboard when she started to move off.  Back up to the top of the enclosure and they were gone.  A brief moment and we just happened to be able to see it.  What a cute little creature it is.

Inquisitive Crow

This crow landed on a street light near me.  It caught my attention because it seemed to be fascinated by something under the light.  It would lean right over the edge to try and get its head underneath – presumably because there was something edible there.  It even tried flying up from the underside but that didn’t go so well.  I’m not sure if it got what it wanted or just gave up.

Pileated Woodpecker or Pterodactyl?

I was riding down along the west side of Lake Washington approaching Renton when I saw something large on a dead tree trunk alongside the road.  With the number of bald eagles and ospreys that I see down there, I was assuming it would be one of them.  However, it was a woodpecker.  I have heard of the pileated woodpecker but had never seen one for real.  It was pulling the trunk apart with abandon and it was huge.  Combine the size with the crest and it looked just like a pterodactyl.  The thing was massive when compared to any other woodpeckers I see.  My phone was not ideal for photos but it did a pretty good job of getting some video.

Stalking the Rabbits

We get a lot of rabbits in the back garden.  They are a bit of a nuisance, but our yard is not good enough to justify the effort to do battle with them getting in.  Instead, I accept their presence and consider them a photographic subject instead.  Getting photos of them usually means subdued light.  During the brighter parts of the day, they stay out of the sun and then follow the shadows across the grass as they eat.

I have tried to stalk them to get shots from a lower angle where possible.  They are clearly a twitchy bunch and quite unwilling to hang around while I am moving about unless I stay far enough away.  Therefore, some cautious movements and picking a spot and hoping them come to you is in order.  Here are some more shots of the visitors.