I first visited Point Reyes almost exactly a year ago, at the beginning of August 2022. Since then, it’s become my favorite wildlife photography destination, with over 30 trips in just in the past year.
I wasn’t able to do much photography in June and July. Finding myself in need of a short vacation, and with the weather forecast calling for an overcast day on the coast, it was time to make another trip. It turned out it wasn’t just overcast, there was a thick fog enveloping the peninsula even at noon!
Soon after I arrived, I spotted a Coyote. While all coyotes are skittish around humans, this one was especially so, running away from the car. Normally, they’ll tolerate humans in cars, just getting wary once we get out. Still, it was a good omen for my return trip.
While Great Blue Herons are best known as wading birds, they’re also a common sight in the fields of Point Reyes, hunting for worms, gophers, and other tasty snacks. I really love this photo. The composition looks like it should have a coyote or an elk, but instead there’s a heron. I managed to get just the right fold in the landscape between me and the heron to give a nice blur to the grasses in the foreground. And the noon fog gave the whole scene an ethereal feel. It all adds up to a classic Point Reyes image.
August is the start of the Tule Elk rut, so I headed to Drakes Beach to visit the herd there. While the Tomales Point herd is a bit better known, I find the Drakes Beach herd is the easiest to photograph. There’s a good combination of hilly and flat terrain to create a variety of photography opportunities.
I had quite the experience when I watched a bull Elk disturb a napping Coyote. The Coyote was very indignant, barking and howling to try to stand its ground. The Elk bugled back, refusing to be dislodged. Eventually the Coyote left in a huff and the Elk to returned to bugling at the other bulls.
The rut was just barely getting started. While the bulls were noticeably more aggressive than in the spring and winter, they weren’t yet in full battle mode.
A lot of people don’t bother photographing Turkey Vultures, but I really like these incredibly emo birds. This juvenile vulture gave off an especially angsty vibe, perched next to a scraggly flower I wasn’t able to identify.
To wrap up my day, I headed to Abbotts Lagoon to photograph California Quail. There weren’t nearly as many up on the fence posts as there were when I first visited last August. I’m wondering if the wet spring caused them to delay their breeding, so that there aren’t yet broods for the males to watch over from on high.