Northwest Trek

Dawn and Rich had to work yesterday, so I volunteered to take Santi, their exchange student from Spain, to Northwest Trek, figuring this would be his only chance to see native Northwest animals. As I’ve noted before, I’m decidedly ambivalent about zoos, though Northwest Trek is one of my favorites because the herbivores, at least, are allowed to roam freely.

Ironically, my favorite pictures from the day all come from the caged animals. This isn’t nearly as good of an otter shot as I’ve gotten before, even at NW Trek, but what can I say. I think I love river otter even more than wolves.

NW Trek River Otter

The animal that really stole my heart, though, was this juvenile Fisher who fascinated me with his alertness,

Juvenile Fisher

resourcefulness,

juvenile Fisher

and all-around cuteness.

Juvenile Fisher

Good thing I enjoyed these two so much, because I had terrible luck getting photos on the Tram. Usually you see the animals at a distance, but they were so close yesterday that I couldn’t get many of them in the picture frame and had to settle for head shots.

Buck

I’m sure that passengers who had point-and-shoot cameras ended up with much better shots than I did. I would have needed a wide-angle lens to have gotten good shots because the animals were so close to the tram.

Spring at Northwest Trek

My gut tells me that it’s really not fair posting pictures of “wild” animals taken at Northwest Trek, but when I think about how hard it is to get a decent picture while driving around trapped in a tram while the animals seem determined to conceal themselves in the shade I feel like there is at least some merit in showing interesting pictures, either to encourage others to visit the park or to further raise awareness of the beauty of these wild animals and what we risk losing if we continue to destroy their environment.

Most of the buffalo, deer and elk were in the midst of shedding their winter coat, so even when I managed to get a clear shot of them they looked rather scruffy. Luckily, this Big-Horn Ram was in much better shape than most:

Of course, the raccoons and the otters are more like my buddy Skye who loses his hair gradually all over my den, at least what hair he doesn’t rub off on my pants when he greets me as I get up or return home.

I loved this pose of the raccoon, perhaps because it reminds me of the way Skye stretches out while still standing watch at the window, protecting us from those pesky FED-EX deliverymen:

But my favorite sequence of shots were of the River Otter, rather amazingly since I’ve never managed to get a shot that I’ve even kept from previous visits:

I think the grandkids enjoyed the visit almost as much as I did, especially since my cold finally seems to be getting better.

A Special Day

I spent my birthday today at Northwest Trek with my son, daughter and their families. The snow made the day seem even more special than usual, particularly for the young folks who couldn’t resist a romp in the snow.

We also saw more animals than usual, perhaps because the keepers spread food closer to the road during the winter so the animals were much easier to see than the previous times I’ve been there.

I still haven’t had time to go through all the pictures, but at first glance this shot of a young Bighorn Ram is my favorite.

I was also pleasantly surprised to return home and find the book Holy Tango of Literature awaiting me, a gift from Robyn, an occasional visitor to my site.

Another One that Got Away

Since Leslie didn’t have to work Friday, we headed out to Northwest Trek.

It was a beautiful, bright, sunny day and I hoped to get some great shots of the animals but was quite disappointed by the actual shots I ended up with.

Much of the park is set in deep woods, so I had problems with high contrast. I was constantly adjusting the camera’s ISO back and forth between 1600 and 100, but managed to forget to reset it for several shots that might otherwise have been good.

The biggest problem was sunlight filtering down between leaves or between trees. In many of these shots, large areas are pure white, as the camera couldn’t cope with the high contrast. In other shots, of course, some areas are just plain black, with an equal loss of details. I expected much better shots than I actually got.

That said, I would have been ecstatic if had ever managed to get a shot of this wolverine:

or this pack of wolves interacting with each other

in the wild.

Sometimes we just have to let go of our personal expectations and enjoy what he have done rather than bemoaning what we haven’t done.

Northwest Trek

Despite a rather heavy cover of clouds and cool weather, Gavin and I headed out to Northwest Trek today. It wasn’t an ideal day for photographs, but I couldn’t resist taking my camera.

I think I’ve mentioned that I’m not terribly fond of zoos where animals are caged, but part of the appeal of NW Trek is that the animals run free and a tram carries passengers through the site. That means that you shoot what you can, as you can. I like that feeling, and I particularly like the idea that the animals, though penned, aren’t caged.

Of course, with limited range and unlimited exposure to people, the animals soon become far too tame for my taste. I avoided some of the more obvious shots and attempted to create a realistic feel, as in this shot of a swan:

I also love this shot of a fawn hiding in the grass because it’s the kind of shots I might actually capture in the wild:

My favorite shot of the day is this one of one of the caged coyotes, though the cage he’s in is much larger and has a more natural setting than the ones you’ll see in most zoos:

I did get some knock-down-dead shots of the animals, but somehow I don’t like them as well as these as they seem strangely artificial, though I’d probably be bragging about them to everyone I knew if I’d actually captured them in the wild. Either that, or someone would find the digital negatives on my dead body after I’d gotten too close to the wolves or to the black bear.

It turned out to be a rather expensive trip as I ended up buying a year-long membership for a hundred and five dollars, lunch for two, and a stuffed owl for Lael because I felt guilty about leaving her at the baby-sitter’s today. Expect to see more shots from here in the future.