Visit Northwest Trek

Just a small sample of what we saw that day. The robin, of course, was out and about, but the picture was exceptional so I had to put it up. An unusual thing about all of these photos is that I did not take the pictures – my wonderful niece did!

When you’re obsessed with wildlife observation like I am and you are blessed with a family visit from out of state – what do you do? You go to Northwest Trek in Eatonville, of course. The animals there will satisfy your personal wildlife observation obsession and fascinate your family while other activities provide even more amusement.  This was exactly my wonderful situation last week. My family, who happen to be animal lovers too, came to visit last week so we went to Northwest Trek. I’m a bug lover and we could have seen quite a few in my backyard. My sister, however, is not too crazy about the creepy crawlers, so for a fine experience of native wildlife wonder and camera challenge we took off for Northwest Trek. Shown above, thanks to the photographing talent of my beautiful niece, is a small sample of the creatures that will greet you there. There are many more but one thing to keep in mind about NWTRK is that their animal enclosures are not the typically small zoo environments. NWTRK has very large, exceptionally natural enclosures for animals; perfect for just about every species of wildlife there. It is so perfect, however, that there are days when you may not see all of the creatures since they have many places to relax, rest, and hide. Regardless of that, you will see plenty of animals native to the Northwest and have a chance to enjoy them in their own natural environment. The zoo’s extended acreage also includes a nature walk, an amazing zip line adventure, and its famous tram line that provides spectacular rolling tour of elk, deer, bison, moose, big horn sheep, mountain goats, and caribou. So before summer ends here and we go back to our normal dripping wet winter I recommend heading down route 161 (the rural section of Meridian), look for the NWTRK entrance before the main entrance of the city of Eatonville, and have a great day.

< >

Three Methods for Wildlife Photgraphy

Method Number 1: Stumble Upon.

 This is an unexpected and surprising way to get pictures of wildlife. No matter what you are doing and no matter where you’re doing it, some kind of creature suddenly appears near you. This has occurred to me several times, but one of the most surprising and wonderful occurred on San Juan Island, WA. We were cruising along the roadway and stopped to enjoy a viewpoint overlooking the ocean of Pugent Sound. And what shows up just behind us? A rare kind of red fox. This one very large, covered in black fur with a bushy white tail ending! I loved it. The strategy for this method is obvious – keep your camera with you and ready no matter where you go.

Method Number 2: Sit and Wait

This is probably the method of National Geographic and other professional photographers, since it produces such fantastic pictures. This method is most productive after extensive research and preparation. You need to understand exactly what you are looking for, where it is found, and when it is most likely to be there. Prepare your observation point and get your camera ready. But there is one other requirement that stands out above all others – patience. If you don’t possess that forget about Sit and Wait. But if you have enough of it you may be able to get a great animal shot anywhere. This really worked for me one time out on a swamp in Fort Lewis, WA when a beautiful little otter popped up in front of me.

Method Number 3: Creep and Peak.

This is my preferred method. I stay as ready as I can for Stumble Upon, and I’ve done Sit and Wait numerous times. But patience is not an attribute I’m know for, and I’d rather be out and about with camera in hand. To Creep and Peak, walk slowly in your preferred location (or any other place), stop and turnover every log, rock, chunk of wood, piece of trash, etc., and be ready to be amazed. The number of wildlife species out there hiding just beyond your view yet very much within reach is astounding! Hence my book, “Let’s See What’s Under There!”. I’ve had wonderful experiences with the Creep and Peak method throughout the world and in my own backyard.

< >

Let’ See What’s Under There!

Now that summer is here I hope you’d love to share the beautiful wildlife in your own backyard with the kiddos! If so please check out my book “Lets’ See What’s under There!’ Loaded with actual photographs of these fantastic creatures this book is a tribute to those amazing creatures and designed for you and your family to share. Above is a small sample of the pictures you will observe in the book. The Ebook is available on amazon right now; the hard copy hits the press on 4 August.

Thank you,

John “Jack” Regan

< >

Concrete Mites!

These photos together display the microscopic size of these little guys, and their large population. They were crawling about on every square foot of that concrete fence.

 

As everyone knows by now, I love bugs. And my fascination was very lucky during a recent visit to a National Gard training area in Oregon called Camp Rilea. While there I fortunately stumbled upon a bunch of little guys that I have been trying to accurately photograph for quite some time. I have seen these creatures numerous times before on locations ranging from my property in Washington state to my sister’s home in New York and at last the weather, sunlight, and my shutter speed were correctly aligned. The size, ceaseless movement, and habitat of these arachnids is extraordinary. What on earth are they doing? What do they eat? And why do they seem to love concrete so much? Many people know about mites but do not like them, a reasonable emotion. In general mites are parasitic animals that bite down on other small invertebrates and live off their blood. And that is the truth for all mites and ticks. And you thought you were making easy money! But what about these microscopic sized “concrete mites”? Why are they wiggling about on slabs of concrete when most other animals seem to dislike that material? The research I did answered these questions but not entirely to my satisfaction. Most sources claim that they are looking for insect eggs or other itsy bitsy living things to eat, even other mites But I thought there was something more to be discovered about them. Why do they seem to like concrete so much? One source I reviewed, from Ohio State University, gave a very reasonable explanation – they eat pollen, too! Now if you have hay fever as I do, the “June Bloom” in the part of Oregon I was in informs you immediately that pollen is exploding from the pine trees there. And it probably lands on slabs of concrete – a great banquet for these little mites if that is part of their diet. And considering their tiny size, cracks in the concrete could be a safe place to lay their eggs. So look very closely at the flat concrete spaces around your home or elsewhere and you may see these fast moving intriguing arthropods. Don’t be afraid of them. Unlike ticks, mite species are not harmful to humans. Mites prefer biting down on insects, spiders, and even vegetation. Ticks are bigger, and prefer the blood of larger animals including humans – as anyone who has had lyme disease will verify.

Primary References:

Pacific Northwest Insects – Merrill A. Peterson (a great book!)

Buckeye yard and Garden Online   Ohio State University

Washington State “Grand Canyon”

Hello everyone! Of course I normally post nothing but wildlife pictures on this site but my visit last week to this place really surprised me. No, it’s not the more well known and famous Grand Canyon of Arizona, but it truly is a Grand Canyon; a surprising piece of geography right here in Washington state. And there is some wildlife there depending on when you arrive. Located in the southeastern part of the state it was a rather long drive from my home in Graham, WA yet it was worth every mile (and tank of gas). Be careful when getting direction, however. The Palouse Falls Sate Park website identifies it to be in a small town called Lacrosse. NO IT’S NOT! My wife and I went there IAW the address stated at the website. We got there and could not find the park. We finally saw a group of people in a small city park in Lacrosse and asked directions. These friendly folks  directed us to the actual location. The park is located outside of a town named Washtucna. Drive through that town off the exit from highway 26 and that road will lead to the park. The drive will take you at first through an astounding acreage of farmland. By the way, I mentioned this to a Palouse State park Ranger when we got there and he acknowledged the address mistake. Apparently this has been going on for some time. Parking limited so get there early on holiday weekends or choose another date. Whatever. You’ll like it!

Insects Looking at You?

I Love Bugs!

When you first see these common insects around your home they look like this.

But then when you look closer you might see an odd face looking back at you!

I have worked with elephants, rhinoceroses, hippopotamuses, and big cats. And yes, I love them all. But I also have a fascination for the little creatures that surround our daily life but often go unseen. I even created a book full of pictures about it titled “Let’s See What’s Under There!”. All of us of course, have seen a huge variety of insects. With about two million species known at present, they are the most widespread and numerous animals on earth. Considering their numbers, behaviors, and habitats it is just about impossible not to see or interact with insects at some point in your life, if not every day. But how often do you get to take a really close look? Well, if you’re a bug lover like me and happen to be in possession of a great macro lens camera, you see them up close a lot. Most people don’t. Okay. That’s what I’m here for. When you have the opportunity to look close their anatomy is quite fascinating: the mandibles, the compound eyes, tiny sensitive hairs, antennas, head, thorax, abdomen, etc. But from time to time something pops up that is a real surprise – like another face staring back at you! It’s a surprise alright. And I likes it!

Waters Striders Again!

I had to share these pictures of one of my favorite insects – the Water Strider. Yes, you have probably seen these fascinating creatures quite a bit. But have you ever seen them mating? And thanks to a perfect position and lighting I was able to capture the tiny strands attached to their legs that allow them to walk on water. Made my day! I hope it makes yours.

Female Bald Eagle

Since it is Women’s History Month I thought I’s share these pics of a beautiful female showing off her captivating eyes and stunning outfit.

Why Do Pigeons Do This?

Rock Pigeons are well known city dwellers but why do they so often hang out above busy intersections? The example above, taken over Interstate Highway 5 near the JBLM Madigan Gate entrance, is just a small example. There are often many more of these birds at this overpass and I have seen this pigeon behavior numerous times at other similar locations. It confuses me. There is no food down below or shelter above, and these are certainly not quiet peaceful places to hang out. Could it be that the birds just consider this kind of location safe from predators? If anyone has an answer please let me know.

reganjm@northwestwildlifeonline.com

Alaskan Dall Sheep

I love Alaska! And no matter what the weather or time of year there is always some beautiful wildlife to observe. Spring and summer, of course, are the best seasons for that observation but winter is an especially good time to get close to Dall sheep. This herd was found close to the bottom of the steep Chugach mountain range along the Kenai peninsula outside of Anchorage. At this time of year the sheep often descend from their high elevations in search of food. During warmer weather they are usually just visible as small white specks up among the mountain peaks. Dall sheep are often mistaken for mountain goats since both are overtly white furred and achieve about the same 300 pound weight. A distinctive difference lies in their horn color. Dall sheep have brown horns while mountain goats have very black horns but also have a longer coat of fur. There is a range difference as well. Dall sheep according to most sources are not found in the southeastern part of Alaska. Where they are found, however, they are a favorite target of game hunters. I obviously prefer to hunt with a camera.