Three Tule Elk, Grassland. Point Reyes National Seashore, California. May, 30, 2011. © Copyright 2011 G Dan Mitchell - all rights reserved.
Three tule elk grazing along the headlands area at Point Reyes National Seashore.
Although I was certainly aware that there are tule elk herds at Point Reyes National Seashore, I was not thinking about them when we encountered this group. We had driven out to the Point Reyes lighthouse and other areas at the extreme end of the peninsula, and had then stopped at Drakes Beach on the return trip. Finishing up at the beach, we got back in the car and headed up the hill towards the main road. As we reached an area near the top of the hill I thought I saw something moving off to the side, but I initially failed to recognize what I was seeing because the possibility of such animals in this place was not on my mind. I thought I was perhaps seeing a fence or something similar, but I couldn't make sense out of why the fence would be moving!
A moment later we were a bit closer and it was obvious that a small herd of the tule elk were grazing very close to the fence along the road. I got out of the car and quietly attached a long lens to my camera and began to photograph these animals. The lighting and other circumstances were nearly perfect. It was very late in the day and the golden hour light had just started, and the backdrop was either the rolling hills you see here or, if I moved a bit to one side, some higher hills further to the west. This group of three large animals was moving, along with other animals not included in this shot, away from the road and further out into the meadows. As the three of them lined up in parallel, for a moment one swung its head around and looked directly towards me.
G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer whose subjects include the Pacific
coast, redwood forests, central California oak/grasslands, the Sierra
Nevada, California deserts, urban landscapes, night photography, and
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