Tomale Point Elk Reserve is a good place to photograph Elks. You also get to see lots of Hawk hovering over the hill, looking for prey. There are many small birds and owls too. However, people goes there mainly for the amazing hiking trail. The trail is about 4 miles long along the pacific coast with some breathtaking views.
I went there to photograph some Bull Elks. It was about 2 hours drive from my home but San Francisco traffic made it little over 3. I wasn't expecting this traffic delay on a Saturday afternoon. By the time I reached the trail head parking lot, it was already 4pm. I estimated that I wouldn't be able to hike the whole trail if I wanna return before it gets dark. Fortunately, I saw a group of bull Elks right near the parking lot and clicked few shots without bothering about setting up tripod to get some sharp images. I thought, there must be a plenty of them around and I would get my chances once I start hiking in the trail. Little did I know, that was the only Bull Elk group I would see that day.
I pulled my complete camera gears and started hiking along the trail. I saw hawks flying around, and got few good shots too. There were Elks everywhere, but all cows. I was beginning to regret the chance I ignored near the parking lot.
About 2 miles from the start, I saw a Coyote strolling over the hill, not far away from the trail. He soon disappeared in the bush and I continued my search for bull elks up the trail. As the sun started to kiss the horizon, it was time for me to start the return hike. When I was near the place where I saw the Coyote first, I notice a small crowd of hikers watching something near the trail. I sped up to reach the spot and noticed the Coyote. It had spotted a prey and I was sure it was gonna pounce at any moment. Fortunately, my camera was already mounted on the tripod, but I still needed to adjust the legs and aim it to the coyote. I wasted no time to fix the tripod legs and aimed the camera to it. The first thing I did was to get it in focus. Once I got him in focus, I kept my one finger on the shutter release button and another one on the focus button ( I use back button auto focus). I knew my tripod head was still loose, but tightening it was lower priority. It was an option to get at least few shots than loosing it entirely while fixing the tripod head. Now that I was sure to get at least one shot, I intended to tighten the tripod head with my other hand, while watching Mr. Coyote from the viewfinder. But he leaped, even before my other hand could touch the tightening knob. Off goes the shutter at 10 fps. But I lost him from the viewfinder just after 2 shots. As expected, the camera lost the balance due to loose head. However, it was the 2 shots I could keep. The predator run away with the prey immediately, leaving no chance to get any shots with it's prey.
|Coyote - Leaping High to Catch it's Prey|
Here is a picture of the Bull Elks that I ignored assuming I would get plenty of them latter. Even though they were not far from me, I didn't give my best for this shot. The lesson learned, I wouldn't ignore anything that I see at first.
|A Herd of Bull Elks at Tomale Point Trailhead|