Tule elk (Cervus canadensis nannodes) are the smallest subspecies of elk in North America, and can be found in pockets throughout the Central Valley and Coastal California. The tule elk of Point Reyes National Seashore are a great conservation success story. In 1978 just 10 animals (2 bulls and 8 cows) were reintroduced to Tomales Point, and there are now around 500 in two herds in the National Seashore.
Drake's Beach is a narrow stretch of beach that spans the western half of Drake's Bay in Point Reyes National Seashore. The beach is set against the dramatic sandstone cliffs that line the Drake's Bay, and stretches from the mouth of Drake's Estero to the Historic Lifeboat Station and Chimney Rock. Wildlife encounters are always a possibility, with gulls year round, large flocks of shorebirds during the migrations and winter season, and the chance to see elephants seals during their breeding season from December to March. It's a great beach to explore, but be sure to check the tide charts before you go!
In Point Reyes National Seashore, a drive along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard takes you to the outer peninsula and eventually to Chimney Rock and the Point Reyes Lighthouse. It's a beautiful drive through a mix of coastal scrub and agricultural grassland, and there's a chance to see wildlife along the entire length.
Tomales Point is the northern tip of the Point Reyes Peninsula, a sliver of land with Tomales Bay to the east and the blue waters of the Pacific Ocean to the west. A large area of Tomales Point has been set aside as the Tule Elk Preserve, and the herd now numbers between 400-500 animals. The coastal scrub ecosystem is beautiful to stroll through, and especially when the yellow bush lupine and other wildflowers are blooming in the spring.
North America's fastest land animal, the pronghorn (Antilocapra americana), is a gorgeous species to behold. They are ideally suited to their grassland home, and watching them run across the prairie is like watching a shadow float across the plains. This is a species that I've been fascinated by ever since I was a child, and it was a dream of mine to have a chance to photograph them up close. I had some amazing encounters with pronghorn while in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park, and I hope to see them again in the future!
These adorable shorebirds, affectionately known as "Peeps" are among my favorite subjects. This gallery contains images of a variety of sandpiper species in the Calidris genus, including least sandpipers (Calidris minutilla), western sandpipers (Calidris mauri), and semipalmated sandpipers (Calidris pusilla), as well as my images of mixed sandpiper flocks. My photographs of two other species in the genus, sanderlings (Calidris alba) and dunlin (Calidris alpina), can be found in their separate galleries.
Song birds are a wonderful subject to photograph when you have the chance to get close, and this is especially true when they perch on spring wildflowers. The great thing about these birds is that you can find them on almost any hike you take. While I don't often go searching specifically for them on a trip, it's a wonderful bonus when they pick a perch right along the trail, and even more so when they start to sing!
In California, we have two species of pelicans -- the brown pelican and the American white pelican. The brown pelican is strictly a coastal species and the white pelicans breed and are found throughout the interior of the country. However, the San Francisco Bay area is one place where you can occasionally see them together at the same location.