Posts in Category: mammal


We did not have any close views of wolves in Yellowstone. They were always well away, often across the river. This is a classic Yellowstone shot. American Bison holding down the top right, two Pronghorns crossing left, and a wolf in the foreground crossing right. They are all aware of each other, but not concerned, at least at the moment. Sony RX10iv at at least 600mm optical, and probably some Clear Image Zoom above that. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr.


After digiscoping more American Bison than you could shake a spotting scope at, we spent most of an afternoon looking for a Pronghorn at a reasonable distance for good digiscoping. One of our participants spotted this one on a little rise of ground above the road, right near a pull-out where the bus could park, and we all piled out with our scopes. The Pronghorn proceeded to amble down the hill toward us, and got as close as the legal limit of 25 yards. Any closer and, according to park rules, we would have had to back up. We had lots of time to take as many digiscoped images as we wanted before it turned and wandered back up the hill.

Despite their superficial similarity (and their other common names) Pronghorns are not antipopes. They are the last members of an otherwise extinct family of North American mammals, more closely related to Giraffes and Okapi, than to deer and old world antelopes. They are generally considered the second fastest land mammals, just behind the cheetah, and could, in theory, out last a cheetah over a mile chase. They are way faster than any existing North American predator.

Digiscoped with an iPhone 7 behind the eyepiece of a ZEISS Harpia 85 at about 1000mm equivalent. Exposure decreased manually to keep detail in the whites. Processed in Polarr.

The good life… Sea Lion style.

Sea Lions are the original bathing beauties…and they spend a good deal of their lives sun bathing on the rocks. Living the good life in Southern California. These beauties are at La Jolla Cove north of San Diego. Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds in flight and action modifications. 1/1000th @ f4 @ ISO 160. Processed in Polarr.

Dusky-footed Woodrat, San Diego

Sally, my daughter, and I found a couple of Dusky-footed Woodrats uncharacteristically out and about in daylight, feeding on flower petals along the path in Tecolote Canyon Nature Park in San Diego, California. She almost stepped on one right at the trail-edge while looking at birds. I managed to get this shot through the thick foliage. I know. It’s a rat, and many people have a thing about rats…but it is one of our few native rats, and an interesting creature. It builds large domed nests of sticks and litter (and sometimes adds a tree loft in a nearby tree), often in villages or hamlets of a dozen or more nests (perhaps the origin of its common name, Pack-rat, though it is a solitary creature in all other ways), stores food, builds a separate “toilet” faculty away from the nest, has soft fur and furry tail. I find it appealingly cute…certainly as cute as any gerbil or hamster. 🙂 Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. 1/250th @ f4 @ ISO 500. Processed in Polarr.

Seal bonding…

A mother and a new-born Harbor Seal recognize each other by the unique smell of each other’s breath…but it has to be learned and you can observe mother and child nose to nose soon after birth and repeatedly over the first few hours of life exchanging breaths. Later, when the pups are in the water and crying for their mothers, you will see adults approach the pup and check the breath to see if it is theirs. Adult females can be quite aggressive when approached by a pup that does not have the right smell. I always enjoy these nose to nose shots. This was taken on the outside of the seawall at the Children’s Pool in La Jolla Cove, in La Jolla, California. Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my birds in flight and action modifications. 1/1000 @ f4 @ ISO 250. Processed in Polarr.

Sea Lions

At the other end of La Jolla Cove from Children’s Pool and the pupping Harbor Seals, there is a good sized colony of Sea Lions. This group of adolescents was having a mild altercation over the occupation of some rocks above the shoreline. It is rare to see an adult sea lion without scars…so these confrontations do get more violent as the sea lions mature. La Jolla Cove, California. Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds in flight and action modifications. 1/1000th @ f4 @ ISO 160. -.3 EV. Processed in Polarr.

Three-fingered Sloth, Mother and child

I posted a gallery of shots of the male Three-fingered Sloth taken at Cope’s home in La Union, Costa Rica a few days ago. This is the female with her child, from our visit the week before. Always something fascinating at Cope’s. Again, the sloth was so close the photos were taken at 120-140mm equivalent (except for the close up of the face, which was at 600mm equivalent). And again, it was very dark under the heavy canopy so these were all taken in Anti-motion Blur mode. Notice how green the fur of the female sloth is…that is, of course, algae growing in the fur. We were close enough to see the moths that feed on the algae. I am calling this a Three-fingered Sloth in line with the new naming convention, instead of the more traditional Three-toed Sloth, since, again, both tree sloths of Central and South America have three toes on each hind foot. Processed in Polarr. 

Three-fingered Sloth

Every visit with Cope, a self-taught artist and naturalist in the small village of Flores near Gaupiles, in the Limon provence of Costa Rica is a rare treat. He knows where the owls and Potoos and bats of the area are roosting, and the little sanctuary he has created around his home is always teaming with an unbelievable number of interesting creatures, from Helmited Iguanas and Wood-rails to many varieties of hummingbirds. This December he had a family of Three-fingered Sloths living in his heavily vegetated yard…a male and a female with a young baby. On the first of my two visits we got to see the female and baby, close enough so we could have touched them, moving along a branch near Cope’s little stream. This sloth has been called “Three-toed” in most references and by most people for years, but there is a movement now to change the common name to “Three-fingered”. Both Central Amercain tree sloths (not, by the way, closely related at all) have three toes on each hind foot. The difference is in the hands and number of fingers. As you can see in the photos above, this sloth has three fingers on each forefoot. On the second visit we were just getting out of bus after a successful search for Specticaled and Crested Owls (and tent-making bats) when Cope called us urgently to come see. The male sloth was moving in the vegetation above a narrow trail, crossing from one side to the other. It is very dark under the low heavy canopy Cope as created. I had learned my lesson on my first visit and brought a flashlight this time, so I was able to illuminate and photograph the sloth without disturbing it. We watched it for 15 minutes or more, as it made its slow way across. Like an accrobat in slow motion on the rings and ropes, it used the vines and branches to preform a series of moves somewhere between yoga poses and styalized dance just a few feet above our heads. Totally fascinating. We could only stand and watch in wonder. Sony RX10iv at various focal lengths…the close up is at 400mm equivalent from about 6 feet. LED flashlight for illumination. Anti-motion Blur mode. Processed in Polarr. 

Honduran White Tent-making Bats

One of the reasons I like to visit Cope, the artist and naturalist in the tiny village of Flores, near Gaupiles, Costa Rica, is that he always knows where there are Honduran White Tent-making Bats roosting, and he can generally find them. Tent making bats make a tent to roost in by chewing along the spine of large leaf until it collapses over them. They leave just enough spine intact to create a safe space. The rainforest where they regularly roost is full of such tented leaves and it is only a matter of checking enough of them to find one with bats inside. These shots were taken in the light of Cope’s flashlight, using Anti-motion Blur mode on the Sony RX10iv at about 80mm equivalent. It is a slow painstaking process to get in the right position for photography without touching the leaf and sending the bats flying, but Cope always seems to guide the whole group through it without disturbing the bats over-much. I always ask Cope to find us bats, and he has not failed in three visits, but his real speciality is owls and we were in the forest in search of Crested Owl and Spectacled Owl, both of which he also found for us. Bats are just a personal bonus for me. 🙂

Coyote and the cranes…

Coyote and Sandhill Cranes, Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, Socorro New Mexico

Carol picked up movement way back in one of the fields at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge south of Socorro New Mexico as we drove the tour loop. It turned out to be a Coyote and we watched it come up the tree-line and then cross into the next field fairly close to the road. It stalked across the field to a group of Sandhill Cranes. I could not figure out what it was doing. Sandhills are not easy prey for coyotes…in fact, unless an adult is injured, and totally alone, no coyote stands a chance against a Sandhill Crane. They do take pults and eggs, but only on the rare occasions when they find them unprotected. The Cranes responded to the Coyote by coming toward it, in a group, sending a clear “don’t mess with us…we are ready for you” message. Eventually the coyote went round the front group, up a corridor between groups, and drove off a couple of ravens who were pecking at something dead far out in the field. When you are an omnivore, leftovers are better than food that fights back…especially standing Cranes. 

Sony RX10iii at 494mm equivalent field of view. Program Mode. 1/1000th @ f4 @ ISO 200. Processed in Snapseed on my Android tablet. 

And a closer shot of the Coyote.