Top 25 Images from 2020

#25 Mountain bluebirds photographed on the backroad at the National Elk Refuge, on the spring YNP/GTNP wildlife safari.  Brilliantly colored and very active – these birds put on quite a show for us for about 30 minutes.  LINK

#24  A desert kit fox kit plays with a kangaroo rat captured by its parents in the vast desert area of Johnson Valley, in the high desert of California.  Not very active during the day, we were limited in the amount of time we were able to photograph them before sunset.  But when the kits were out … what fun!

#23  It took me many years to get a clean, close-up portrait of this brilliantly colored, gregarious bird – the Summer Tanager.  After many years of a photo or two, I was able to add several hundred Summer Tanager images to my library from this year’s Morongo Valley Bird Safari.  LINK

#22  Shot just a month ago, this view across these smokey mountain ridges near Deer Ridge, in Sequoia National Park, is the kind of strong graphic image that I like – and something different from my other landscapes in Sequoia.  LINK

#21  A Yellow Warbler is singing his heart out in this spring image from the YNP/GTNP spring wildlife safari.  The image was taken on the Moose-Wilson Road in GTNP.  LINK

#20  Over the years many great horned owl images have made their way into my yearly top 25 image lists.  These powerful owls are just fun to photograph, and there is no better place in California than Butterbredt Springs on the eastern side of the Sierras.  LINK

#19  Two bear images from the Sequoia Black Bear Safari grace the top 25 for 2020.  While the vertical stick is annoying, the relationship between these two little cubs is touching as the black sibling looks at its more dominant brown sibling.  Throughout this 3-hour encounter, we photographed the cubs and their relationship to each other, and to their mother.  LINK

#18  This particular red fox image (the male, or dog, of the parents) was photographed on my Peregrine Falcon Safari to San Pedro, CA.  With the red fox den within 200 yards of the Peregrine nest, when one location slowed down we walked to check out the other – the flowers and attentive look was a bonus.  LINK

#17  Though kicked loose by mom the summer before, this is one of two sub-adult grizzlies that were still hanging together when we photographed them in GTNP, on the YNP/GTNP spring wildlife safari.  We had a number of encounters with this pair of grizzlies, but I liked this image due to the eye contact and the ease of the bear as it watched us.  LINK

#16  Nothing difficult about this shot, but it did come after a lot of maneuvering and compositional problems with the thickness of the cherry blossoms.  One of my favorite trips to Los Angelas is the one I make around the beginning of March to shoot the hummingbirds in these blooming cherry trees at the Huntington Beach Library/Park Complex. Always awesome results.  LINK

#15  These three wolves work over an elk carcass that had been killed the night before, and fed on by the rest of the pack – in Hayden Valley on the spring Yellowstone/Grand Teton Wildlife Safari.  Seeing apex predators playing their role in the ecosystem is what photography in Yellowstone is all about.  LINK

#14  This American Robin is flipping Hawthorne berries into it’s mouth on the fall YNP/GTNP fall safari in the Grand Tetons, off the Moose/Wilson Road.  Sometimes it’s black bears feasting, or woodpeckers, or other birds or animals – this year it was robins gorging on the berries.  LINK

#13  One of the highlights of the fall YNP/GTNP is finding and photographing the rutting bull elk.  Getting a harem bull in the water with cows, and bugling shows great behavior and interaction – the two best characteristics of good wildlife photography.  Shot along the Gardiner River a mile south of the Gardiner entry station.  LINK

#12  By far the best Osprey nest I’ve ever found and photographed, this nest near GTNP on the spring YNP/GTNP wildlife safari, allows us to shoot at eye level into the nest as the parents take turns fishing and bringing back trout.  LINK

#11  Again, I prefer strong landscape graphic images.  Taken in pre-dawn light in Queen’s Garden in Bryce Canyon National Park, along the Navajo Loop Trail, this series of hoodoos stand out for their symmetry and ruggedness against the frigid brightening eastern sky.  LINK

#10  With faces only a mother could love, these nestling Long-eared Owls pause to stare at me when they heard my camera firing off groups of images.  There is a fourth owlet hiding behind these.  While not easy to fnd, they have been photographable these past two years – on the Morongo Valley Bird Safari.  LINK

#9  Photographing mountain lions is a rare event, so while this is a pretty standard shot, it’s uniqueness brings it pretty high on the 2020 list.  We photographed this lion on the January winter YNP/GTNP, the second lion in a row on this safari.  Both 2019 and 2020 got us a lion encounter.  This image was taken inside the Jackson, Wyoming city limits near our hotel, but more importantly, across the street from a Maverick gas station that my safari group could use for bathroom visits, hot chocolate, etc during the long, frigid day of attempting to photograph it.  LINK

#8  A new species for me, this Pacific white-sided Dolphin and the dozens of others traveling with it in the pod put on an aerobatic display as they flashed past the ferry taking us out to Santa Cruz Island for my yearly Channel Island Gray Fox Safari.  Not as large as other dolphins, these were about 4 feet long and just flew through the water doing jumps and pirouettes.  LINK

#7  The other half of the Peregrine Falcon safari (besides the red foxes) is photographing these peregrine parents flying, hunting, feeding each other, tending to the fledglings near their cliff nest.  I’ve been photographing them for the past 4 years and they never fail to put on a show.  I never got a good air-to-air passing of food shot this year, but this image shows the power these birds have.  LINK

#6  This image of the desert kit fox vixen (right), and one of her kits – is my favorite image from the three safaris I did this year out to the den in the high desert of southern California.  If the opportunity arises again this year to photograph them, I will send out an email.  The safari is limited to 3 in my truck.

#5  Vibrant color creates a powerful image in this post-sunrise shot down on the Navajo Trail in Queen’s Garden in Bryce Canyon National Park.  The hoodoos provide dozens, no hundreds, of possible compositions as the morning light filters through the eroding, towering rock formations.  LINK

#4  I really wish everyone could see and photograph this kind of encounter.  You see it, but you hardly believe it while photographing it.  Here, a black wolf of the Junction Butte pack crosses the swollen, snow-flooded meadow along Slough Creek on the spring YNP/GTNP wildlife safari.  LINK

#3  Another shot of the same mountain lion as in #9.  Again, wild mountain lion encounters are rare – and in this image the degree of difficulty was extreme.  This image was taken at iso 52,000 in complete darkness – so to get any type of image is remarkable.  The cat was descending from those trees right above it down to the mule deer kill it had made two days previous.  LINK

#2  It was a tough decision not to make this my #1 image.  This shot was just published on the cover of Outdoor California Magazine (Sep-Oct 2020 Issue) and brings together the best parts of wildlife photography – behavior and interaction.  Taken on a Sequoia Black Bear Safari, this is the same cinnamon cub from #19.  The protective, yet calm, sow/cub pose is one of my favorite images.  LINK

#1  For years I’ve wanted to photograph a cross fox (red fox with black melanistic traits) and while I would see one here and there, I’d never got a good shot until this spring on the Yellowstone/Grand Teton wildlife safari.  This red fox was photographed along the Jenny Lake Road in Grand Teton National Park.  With young to feed, these adult foxes are kept active hunting throughout the day – and on this trip I photographed this guy, and another cross fox doing a mousing leap.  Now, I’ve got a new safari on my schedule for early May going to the San Juan Islands off Washington’s coast to photograph the melanistic (black) red foxes that live there.  LINK

Considering how covid lowered the number of safaris I did, I think we had some great encounters throughout the American West. I look forward to 2021 as I’m sure everybody does. BP

About brentrpaull

Professional Photographer
This entry was posted in Photo Safaris, Photography Skills and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Top 25 Images from 2020

  1. These are amazing photos! It’s hard to single out any one of them, but i really love the one of a robin “flipping” hawthorne berries into its mouth. Such perfect timing.

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