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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
While I was shooting super bikes at Shelton, I was wandering along the fence line out on the circuit when a lot of bird noise started up. Regular readers may recall my previous post about a killdeer in Bellevue that was making a lot of noise. This was a pair of killdeer and they should probably reconsider their tactics.
I was totally unaware of them until I got close at which point they started making a hell of a racket. The reason was that they had a couple of chicks with them that were hiding in the longer grass trying to stay out of sight until their parents encouraged them to move. The adults would make a lot of noise and would fan out their wings and turn their butts in my direction. Clearly they didn’t think too much of me.
Once they started making this display, I looked around until I could see the youngsters. I would never have seen them otherwise as they were well concealed even though they were out in the open. I had no desire to make them any more stressed than they already were so I moved along to leave them in peace. They did try to move away from my approach which meant going where I was going but I was soon passed them and they could go back to avoiding the motorbikes.
We get a ton of rabbits in our yard. They happily eat our grass and spread the seeds of weeds amongst our grass. We figure it is a battle we will lose so why fight it. Instead, we watch out for them. Most of the time they are chomping away on the grass. Occasionally, if it is warm or they are feeling relaxed, we might see them stretch out and take a rest. Here are some of the resting poses of rabbits. If we appear, they instantly return to alert status.