Photography . . . Travel . . .

Saturday, August 27, 2011

San Diego Zoo - Tiger Cubs and One Cool Looking Bird

I got to the tiger enclosure at about 9:45 this morning, and for the first 15 minutes or so all I could see of the cubs was a pair of ears just peaking out from behind a big rock up near the top of the ridge. Mom Mek was napping not far away. Every now and then she would open an eye or raise her head a bit, but really there wasn't all that much going on. This lasted until a little after 10:00, when the cubs finally decided it was time to get up and wander a bit. Somewhere along the way they decided to go wake up Mom.


Then it was time for a bit of wrestling.


Then it was back to hanging out with Mom.


Finally it was time to get up and walk around, and get away from that ugly chain link fence.



By 10:25 Mom was ready for another nap, but the boys still wanted some of her attention.



A little after 11:30 a keeper showed up to toss them some chunks of fresh beef heart. Mek and one of the boys knew exactly where to wait.


Here comes a piece now  . . . 


. . . get out of the way kid, this one's mine!


All that stuff in the air over Mek's head is water - their fur was pretty wet from being under the misters just before. When she jumped up water went flying everywhere.


After Mek and the boys went in for the day, at about Noon, Danai, the other adult female, came out.  Here she is watching as the keeper is about to toss a giant femur bone over to her. The bone, which weighed about 10-12 lb., wound up in the water at the bottom of the enclosure. It didn't take her long to go in and retrieve it, and haul it up to a shady spot.



Over half an hour later she was still gnawing away at the giant bone.


All in all I spent about 3 hours just at or near the tigers this morning. Later, on my way past the hippo pool I spotted this cool looking bird sitting on a branch over the pool. I don't think I've seen one of these before.

   
Click here to see more images from Saturday morning Aug 27 at the San Diego Zoo.
   

Mother and Child Bonding - at the San Diego Zoo

One of my usual first stops at the Zoo is the flamingo pool. The young ones are starting to get some color finally (they start out as completely grey). I'm not quite sure what this is all about, or if it really is a mother and her child even, but these two were stuck together like this for at least four full minutes that I observed. They never once broke contact during that time, although they did move around quite a bit. I noticed a second adult and young flamingo doing the same thing on the other side of the enclosure as well.




(Edit 09-24-11: One of the keepers told me today that this is how flamingos feed their young. The mother is dripping regurgitated food into the young ones mouth. She told me that she's seen this go on for as long as 20 minutes.)


I still can't tell Christopher and Conner, the two Malayan tiger cubs, apart. They're almost 5 months old now, and getting bigger each time I see them. I think they're up to almost 50 lb. now. Here's one of them, with his arms wrapped around Mom's neck - check out the size of those front paws.




I think Mek prefers to be left alone.


       

Dinner and Some Clicks - Evening Rambles with San Diego dSLR

Recently I set up a series of evening photography outings for our local photo club. The first night someone used the phrase "dinner and some clicks" and it stuck. The most recent two have been Old Town and Little Italy. These have turned out to be quite popular, and I plan to continue this throughout the year.


On August 9th a group of us got together for dinner at the Cosmopolitan Hotel, in San Diego's Old Town State Park, and afterwards walked around for a couple of hours shooting pictures.








Our most recent evening out was to Little Italy on Aug 23rd. For that one we tried something a little different. For all of our earlier evening shoots we had used tripods and long exposures. For this one we shot handheld, going for more of a nighttime street photography look. The dinner was nothing special, but the company was great. We spent a few hours just wandering around taking pictures, and ended up at my favorite gelato place in San Diego - Pappalecco, on the corner of State and Cedar.








I found this in one of the store windows.




And I found this parked on Cedar Street.




Click here to see more images from Tuesday, Aug 23, 2011 in Little Italy.
  
Click here to see more images from Tuesday, Aug 9, 2011 in Old Town.


Click here to go to the San Diego dSLR club website.
    

Sunday, August 21, 2011

More Malayan Tigers (and a Mandrill)

I went back to the Zoo on Saturday morning for a few hours, specifically to spend some time with the tigers. It was bright and sunny, not the best for getting good photos, but I'm not going to wait since the cubs will be a lot bigger by the time winter rolls around. Mek, Christopher and Conner were lounging at the top of the hill when I first arrived, taking advantage of cool misters that the keepers recently installed for them. You can still see some of the water droplets on Mek's fur glistening in the sun here.




After about half an hour they decided to wander around for a bit.








Eventually it was time for the keeper to show up and toss them some snacks - in this case chunks of fresh raw meat.




The boys still don't quite seem to get the concept of someone tossing chunks of fresh meat to them, sometimes they just sit there with a clueless look. I'm sure that won't go on too much longer.




After Mek and the little guys went in for the day, their father Paka came out for the afternoon. We heard recently that Paka may be moving to Fresno soon.




On my way back up the Tiger Trail towards the front of the Zoo I stopped for a bit to watch the mandrills. The coloring on these, especially the males, is amazing.




Click here to see more images from the Tiger Trail at the San Diego Zoo on Saturday, Aug 20.
    

Friday Late Afternoon Walk Around the Zoo

I took a walk around the San Diego Zoo late in the day on Friday. Little Adhama and mom Funani were swimming around the Hippo Pool. Adhama would roll onto his back under water on the bottom of the pool and mom would push him from the side and roll him around. Every now and then they would pop their noses above the surface for a breath of air. It was a lot of fun to watch, and would have made a great video, but with a long lens on the camera I wasn't going to get many pictures. Here's Adhama cruising through the water.




Time to come up for air.




Here comes mom right behind.




A little further walk down the trail past the hippos there are some really cool little monkeys and river otters. The otters must have been taking a break, as I didn't see them, but the monkeys were out watching all the people walk by.






I thought I would try to get some better pictures of the pygmy hippos, as they are usually pretty active in the late afternoon. Lots of interaction this time between the hippos and the little monkeys that live with them.




For the most part the hippos don't seem to mind the monkeys riding on their backs. They don't seem to mind the jumping on and off as they go in and out of the pool either, but occasionally I did see a snap or two that could have ended badly for a monkey - but those little guys are really quick.




After a quick stop in the Reptile House it was time to head home and cook some dinner.






Click here to see more images from Friday afternoon, Aug 19, at the San Diego Zoo.
     

Monday, August 15, 2011

Malayan Tiger Cubs at the San Diego Zoo

I met a few friends from our local photo club at the San Diego Zoo on Sunday morning. Our main goal was to get some shots of the tiger cubs. We saw lots of other great things as well, including the hippos (both regular and pygmy), pandas, gorillas and mandrills - check out the earlier posts just below this one. Here are a few images of Christopher and Connor, who are now about 4 months old, chasing each other around mostly, and basically just acting like a couple of big kitties. They would alternate between chasing around and lounging in the shade. 












The temporary fence designed to keep them from getting too close to the cliff edge seems to be doing its job . . . yeah, right. Maybe it's time to take it down.




After a while they get tired and decide it's time for a break.



We had a nice time on Sunday . . . good pictures and some great company to walk around the Zoo with.


Click here to see more images from the San Diego Zoo on Sunday, August 14, 2011.
     

A Lot Can Happen In 20 Seconds

A lot can happen in 20 seconds. 

These 5 images were shot Sunday morning, at the San Diego Zoo just before the start of the Keeper Talk at the tiger enclosure.  The first shot here was taken at 11:28.03, the last at 11:28:23. That's 20 seconds.  I actually took 6 shots, but left out one from the sequence here. 

The adult tigers are pretty smart, either that or they have wristwatches we're not seeing. They know exactly when it's time to head down the hill to the spot where the keeper will be throwing food. Today it was meatballs. Mek and her 2 sons Christopher and Conner were up at the top of the hill lounging under the misters staying cool, but a bit before 11:30 she knew it was time to head down to the second viewing area.

I can just imagine the conversation between Mom and Son going something like this:


Son: Hey Mom, what's happening? Is Rochelle going to be tossing us some treats today?


Mom: Hi Son. You know, you really should go find your own spot. You really do need to learn to hunt for yourself.


Son: Oh, come on Mom, there's plenty for both of us.

Mom: Not so fast, kid. Go find your own spot! Now!


Son: OK Mom, I get the message, I'm going.


Son: Look Mom, I can hunt too.


Okay, so maybe I read a little too much in to this whole thing - but it was a blast to watch.
     

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San Diego, California, United States
About me . . . When I'm not working I like to be out exploring and photographing. I do this blog just for fun, and to be able to share these images with friends. I hope you enjoy viewing these images as much as I enjoyed creating them.

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All of the content and images on this site (c) Frank B. Baiamonte. If you would like to use any of these images please contact me via email at frank@frankbaiamonte.com to discuss terms of usage. Note that images from the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park are not available for commercial usage.

Header image: Cibola National Wildlife Refuge, Cibola, Arizona. End image: Downtown San Diego, California skyline from Coronado Island. Profile picture: Craters of the Moon National Monument, Idaho, by Heather Baiamonte.