Wild Spanish mustangs used to roam the entire coast of North Carolina. Today, after bounties and development, there are only 100 horses left at the northern end. Fortunately, they now have a protected status and are free to roam.
While they may look tame, they are indeed wild. Always keep at least 50 feet away from them and never feed them. A change in their diet causes painful bloat and can kill them.
The mustangs are smaller than domestic horses we see today. They also run the risk of inbreeding because they are in a small area and they are a small herd. The National Wildlife Refuge and the Wild Horse Fund work to keep the horses healthy, to mange their numbers, and to reduce their inbreeding. These horses are listed as critically endangered.
Above, two stallions fight over the rights to the mare in the foreground. The horses travel around in harems of about 4-5 horses.
Above, an egret rides on the back of a horse while it eats. Egrets and wild mustangs have a symbiotic relationship. The egret feeds on the files that gather around and on the horses.
Rules are in place for a reason. While humans are proud of their independence and individuality, they still need to follow rules. Breaking them endangers the animals and yourselves. No selfie or bragging rights are worth the risks. Nor is it wise to ruin the experience for those who come after you.
The national parks have an article with 10 tips for respecting wildlife: www.npca.org/articles/1267-10-tips-to-respect-wildlife-stay-safe-and-avoid-internet-ridicule?utm_source=parknotes&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=blog
When photographing wildlife, it is good to understand animal behavior. It is also wise to have a telephoto lens. Yes, they can be pricey, but they are worth the investment in order to keep the animals and yourself safe.
A cell phone does not have a good telephoto lens. You can buy an aftermarket lens attachment if you do not want to carry a camera with telephoto lens. Olloclip is one option: https://www.olloclip.com/shop/lenses/iphone6-telephoto/
If you have a dSLR, you can get a decent telephoto lens for it. You do not need a professional lens to get in closer. I have the Tamron 70-300. That lens on a 1.6 crop sensor (I have the Canon 50D, but this will work on a Rebel, as well) gives you an equivalent to 480 mm. For under $1000, you can have a nice set for wildlife photography. No, it is not a fast lens, but it is far better than a cell phone for wildlife photos and it is quite sufficient for those on a budget. Just learn your limitations and work within them. Heck you may even be able to use the limitations to your advantage.
I captured the image below with the Canon 50D and the Tamron 70-300, zoomed in to 209mm (on the 1.6 crop, the zoom was the equivalent to 335 mm). Had I wanted to single out an individual bison, I could have zoomed in even closer.
So, enjoy the parks, capture images at the parks, and be safe!
The first two in my series: stalkers.
Thought it was fun to contrast wild and domesticated/canine and feline stalkers.
Below are brothers displaying dominant and submissive behaviors. The wolf with the "eyebrows" is higher ranking in the pack. The wolf without eyebrows stands lower to his dominant and administers submissive licks. Active submission often looks like a subordinate Wolf begging the dominant for forgiveness.
The howl of a wolf is unforgettable. The only sound that comes close is the lonesome wail of a train horn. It is adorable to hear the wolves howling along with trains in the distance.
"Scientists speculate that wolves howl for many reasons. In addition to the sheer joy of a community singalong, they howl to communicate with neighboring packs, to establish dominance over their own hunting range, and to inhibit trespassing by hostile wolves. They often howl immediately before a hunt and sometimes communicate with each other when departed during a long chase. Dispersing loner wolves howl to attract a mate, and packs recently howl during the breeding season." ~ Helen Thayer, Three Among Wolves
As of April 2015, 3,600 wolves have been killed in only six states. In 1970s they were on the brink of extinction. In 2016, They are a species still struggling to survive. Only 3 wolves remain on isle Royal and scientist suspect there will be none left after this winter. Stop the slaughter.
I'm switching around a bit before I get to more wolves and some foxes. Today's offering are Bison.
One thing I've realized now that I'm not out and about is that I didn't stop and take the time to photograph landscapes. I realized this when I prepped the bison images. Next time I'm out in the wild, I will try to focus a bit more on landscape images. I was just too intent on getting to the wildlife, I forgot to enjoy the scenery.
Below is part of the herd:
And here is a portrait of a single bison:
Oodles of images to sort through after spending time with wolves. I figured I'd share the two highlights. One day was rainy, but the light was sweet.
This elder male took a dip in the lake. I guess if you are already getting rained on, might as well get full on wet.
And on a sunnier day, this one year old female struck the perfect pose.
I'll probably break future wolf posts up so I don't inundate everyone with tons of images. Beware, there will be a lot, though. It's no secret that wolves are my passion.
Expect updates with wolf images as a spend more time working with wolf and wildlife conservation groups. Below is one of the elders in the pack.
The two wolves below are siblings: brother and sister. Both of the males in the litter were born with cataracts. They had surgery, but it was unsuccessful and now the males are farsighted. They will forever be in rescue, living their days well cared for and providing valuable insight into wolf behavior. The cream colored wolf is one of the boys. The red coat is the female of the litter.
Finally! Every time I've gone to the zoo, my favorite foxes were elusive. They would be in their dens and out of site. Yesterday, they were still napping, but they were at least at a vantage point where I could capture their beauty.
This was a particularly tricky image to make due to the light and the fact that I had to photograph this little guy through a layer of protective glass. This is a perfect example of why learning to use your camera on manual is so important, even focusing manually. In a way, I am happy that I didn't start photography when there were high-tech cameras. I had to learn everything. However, I am not knocking technology. There are things that we can do with the newer tools that were never possible when I first started.
A word about the protective glass. This fox was not enclosed in glass. The glass is part of the surrounding. The foxes have a natural habitat and lots of space to roam. The Detroit Zoo is a world class conservation zoo. Ron Kagan, the director, has made strides to do everything possible for the animal's comfort, even so far as to sending the elephants to a sanctuary where they would be more comfortable and happier to live out their lives. The Detroit Zoo does not exist solely for human entertainment and that is why I am proud to have the Detroit Zoo in my community.
From their website:
The mission of the Detroit Zoological Society is to:
The Detroit Zoo has 125 acres of naturalistic habitats for 2,400 animals from aardvarks to zebras and features award-winning attractions such as the National Amphibian Conservation Center, Great Apes of Harambee and Arctic Ring of Life.
I am a Warren, MI based photographer.