For the many times that we've been to Point Reyes, the wildlife is not what we seek. We return over and over again for the stunning views of the water, the therapeutic drive to pasture lands, basically for the sightseeing value. However, we are aware that the park is popular for wildlife viewing. One of the wildlife that is sought after here are the tule elks. We know they exist. As a matter of fact we caught sight of them on one time from across the hill. So imagine our glee when we were face to face with them as we rounded the bend. I honestly don't remember where we were supposed to go. As I have mentioned earlier in this series, this time around we were just driving around without a set destination or stops.
In the mid-1800s, the tule elk was hunted to the brink of extinction. The last surviving tule elk were discovered and protected in the southern San Joaquin Valley in 1874. In 1978, ten tule elk were reintroduced to Point Reyes, which now has one of California's largest populations, numbering ~500. (source)
We wondered why the cars in front of us were basically stopped. And then we saw the reason.
Slowly the cars crawled while we talked in hushed voices.
Oh there's another one.
Close up, pardon the dirt. Either my lens is dirty or the windshield needs washing.
When we rounded the curve, we saw that there was a herd. We stopped the car and went out to take some shots.
Don't they have cute bums?
And then one of them crossed the street to the other side - probably the grasses are greener there.
I love how nonchalant this one is about crossing the street.
By the time we were taking this road back home most of the elks were on the other side grazing.
Must be great timing on my part, but in addition to the tule elks I was able to photograph a couple of birds.
I'm not good ID'ing birds, but I believe this is either a falcon or a hawk. It stayed put long enough for me to take a a few shots.
I am going to hazard a guess that this is a finch. Correct or not, I thought this is one delightful subject.
As you can see the winter sky in the coast is nothing but grey. The skywatching was a bust, but the wildlife more than made up for the lack of photograph-worthy skyscape.
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