More from the negative scan archive. Another hike we were taking and this time the wildlife is a little larger. This herd of deer was grazing nearby and there were some impressive sets of antlers on display for some of them. One stag was staring in our direction briefly so I got a nice head on shot. The scan of the negative with my 40D seems to have come out pretty well.
A trip to the Chittenden Locks in Ballard in the fall is a good time to see salmon making their way up through the fish ladder en route to their spawning grounds. If we know the salmon are there, so do their predators. On this day, it was seals. Seals and sea lions are both common at the locks when hunting for salmon. A pair of seals were playing around in the waters near the locks, no doubt choosing their moment for a snack. Another pair of seals had been a bit more aggressive in their thinking. They had made their way into the fish ladder itself.
There are gates on the entrance to the ladder that are intended to allow the fish through and not the larger predators but I guess on this day, the gates had been left open. Our first glimpse on one of the seals was as it was chomping its way through a salmon it had already caught. It was making swift work of it. A while later we saw them again. They would haul themselves out on to the walls of the ladder for a break before diving back in to search for the next snack!
Our ride through the refuge was covered in this post. Scattered throughout the herd were a large number of bull elk. At this time of year they are not competing for anything other than food so there was little tension between them. Instead, they seemed focused on feeding. However, they still had antlers so they made an imposing sight when they looked the right way.
On our trip back to Edmonds, after we left the orcas, we had a lucky encounter. We came across a minke whale. It was having a good time feeding on bait balls that were easy to spot given the large number of birds on the surface above them. We saw the whale surface a few times and then it headed for the bait. Timing its surfacing was tricky. The birds all started to take flight but they did so a long time before the whale came up through the fish. I missed the key moment. However, I did get a few shots of the whale as it was feeding although not of the swollen lower jaw folds as it took mouthfuls of water in.
Fort Casey had a bunch of deer that were chomping their way around the grounds while I was there. These deer seemed pretty fearless. I guess there are tons of people coming through the Fort, most of whom will not be any trouble to the deer so they must get pretty used to people in close proximity and know that they are not in any threat. Consequently, I found that my efforts at getting a photo were pretty straightforward. If I tried to get too close, I figured that they would move off but I could be close enough without affecting them.
The one creature that did seem to spook one of the deer was a cat. Sitting up against a wall was a ginger cat that was sunning itself. It didn’t seem to be interested in doing anything at all but the deer was aware of it and seemed to be quite nervous. A number of times it would jump, presumably because the cat had twitched in some way. It seemed pretty clear that it was not moving for anyone though. I guess the deer is going to have to get used to it.
Visiting the zoo is often a game of hide and seek with the animals. They live according to their normal schedules and are not inclined to be active just because you happen to be there. They also will find a favored location in their enclosure which is not putting them on display to the animals on the other side of the glass. You may catch a glimpse of something sleeping in a shadowy space or you may wonder whether the animal is even in there.
When we got to the red panda enclosure, I was half expecting to not see very much. I figured this would be another reclusive creature. I was wrong. I don’t know whether they are naturally energetic creatures, whether they are curious about their visitors or whether some unseen motivation is given to them to get out there but these guys were the exact opposite of what I had anticipated. They had a number of trees within their space and they were very happy to zip around through the branches. This often brought them right up front to where the visitors were standing. They would happily motor about, stare at the people, head back, disappear for a while before reappearing and repeating the process. Their public was suitably appreciative.
I knew that gorillas were vegetarians, happy to chomp on branches and leaves for hours at a time. What I didn’t know is that they have what I guess might be considered a sweet tooth. They were scattered throughout their enclosure but two of them were together in one section that had a glass viewing wall for the other apes to watch them. The staff had recently put a load of food out for them and this included some bunches of flowers.
When I first saw the flowers, I was slightly perplexed. It seemed like an odd thing to have put out. However, the alpha male homed in on them. Even then I assumed he would eat the leaves. Not so. He was happy to strip the flowers from the branches and chew them up. The rate at which he went through them made it seem pretty clear that this was a preferred treat for him. Having never tried eating flowers, I have no idea what they taste like. They smell nice so does that translate into a nice flavor? I’m not going to try eating some to find out but, judging by his approach, there must be something to them.
The small pack of wolves at Cougar Mountain Zoo were quite something to watch. They had a variety of territories in their enclosure and they moved between them frequently. They did patrol the area near the visitors to keep tabs on what was going on. There was a very distinct hierarchy in the pack. The alpha male was very obvious. A number of them seemed to be at a secondary level and one seemed to be the most passive in the group, often staying away from rest. He didn’t seem to have any problems but did not get in the way of the others.
The alpha was a great looking wolf. When compared to the others, there was even something about the face that made you know he was in charge. He had a look that suggested he was constantly assessing things. It is easy to project human emotions on to animals but something about this guy made you think that he didn’t have time for the fun stuff and he was always on guard. He looked great.
Cougar Mountain Zoo is a small zoo located on the east side of Lake Washington in an area named, wait for it, Cougar Mountain. While it is not a big facility, it does have an interesting variety of creatures in nice habitats and we ended up spending a lot more time there than we thought would be the case. I shall have a variety of creatures to share in some upcoming posts but, given the name of the location and the zoo, it would be churlish to start with any other than the cougars.
They have an enclosure that is one of the first things you come across when you enter. However, they are not always terribly keen on showing off. When we first got there, one of them was lying deep within a small cave and didn’t seem interested in coming out. However, over time they did stretch their legs and come to check things out. Two things really got their attention. One was they knew some feeding was coming soon so they were alert for where the food would ultimately be coming from. The other was some small children that ran around. The cats were eying the kids intently. I assume, if the fencing hadn’t been there, some tasty snacks would have been had by these guys.
Big cats do looks very cool I think. When they are taking it easy, they still look like they are in control and when they get active, you do feel that they could take care of anything that comes their way. The cougar has an intense looking face too. More to come from this place in some upcoming posts.
The Big Island has a large population of wild goats. All of the larger animals on the island were introduced by the visiting peoples at some point and the goats obviously got well established. You can come across them at all sorts of places as you travel the island. I saw them a number of times but the one time I got to get shots of them was while waiting for my helicopter trip across the island. They hang around the landing pads that Sunshine Helicopters use a lot and, according to our pilot, they are not always too enthusiastic about vacating the pads when the helicopters arrive!
While we were waiting, they were certainly not shy. There were both adult goats and some kids in the group that showed up. The kids were clearly more timid and they would not go anywhere until the adults had been there a while to show that it was safe to do so. They would stay back in the bushes for a while before coming out into the open. As soon as there was any disturbance, they would jump back to somewhere that felt safer.
It was quite interesting to see how the group behaved when they first showed up. The whole group hung back in the bushes for a while. Gradually, as they realized that the people that were hanging around were not a threat, they became more comfortable in getting out in the open. Anything that disturbed the environment would get them back out of the way but they would soon become comfortable again and come back out. Indeed, we were soon so used to them that we were a bit bored with their intrusion too and we both went about our way with little concern for the other.