Wildlife Safari in Point Reyes National Seashore (California)

Point Reyes is a National Seashore treasure full of incredible wildlife and breathtaking views.  But sadly, much of this amazing habitat may be wiped out by likely changes by the National Park Service that would allow farm land to take over…BUT you can help stop that until November 15th.

In our National Seashores post, we made an interactive map of the treasures by the sea that are protected, natural lands.  What’s so amazing about these places is that the scenery and wildlife are allowed to flourish and thrive without human development interfering.  They are truly precious!

So on our trip out to California, we decided to check out National Seashore Point Reyes with the help of a local naturalist, Daniel Dietrich of Point Reyes Safaris.  What better way than to go with someone who knows the ins-and-outs of the landscapes and the creatures in it!?

What we experienced was a wildlife photography show like you might see on BBC, with elephant seal contests, tule elks colliding antlers, along with glimpses of the elusive bobcat, an owl family, and a fox, among countless others!

Point Reyes Wildlife Safari Tour collage

So sit back, take in the scenery with us, and enjoy the view of Point Reyes.  And please take a minute to add your voice to the National Park Service — let them know by clicking here to comment how important this habitat is! (More info is at the end of the post.)

Here we go, ya ready for the ride?…

Welcoming us into the park was a coyote eying us watchfully…making for quite possibly our favorite photo of the trip!

coyote at point reyes

Arriving at Elephant Seal Overlook, we witnessed several males engaging in heated bouts of physical dominance.  You could feel the tension in the air!

Elephant Seals at Point Reyes

While the females soaked in the sun, males were in each other’s faces, having standoffs over who’s boss and taking some good licks at their opponent with their teeth.  Many of them battled it out in the water, continuing on shore too.

We can imagine that the real deal of breeding season (December – March) would be even that much more dramatic than when we went in June, but there was still plenty of action!

Elephant Seals at Point Reyes (2)

What’s incredible is that these animals weren’t seen in Point Reyes for 150 years but have now grown into a colony since they returned in the 1970’s.

Tip: Take some binoculars along to get the full effect!  (For more planning info to see elephant seals, check out: https://www.nps.gov/pore/planyourvisit/wildlife_viewing_elephantseals.htm)

We were able to see the elephant seals before we met up with Daniel, the naturalist who gave us the insider’s tour.  He took us on a safari in search of the animals that he knows so well…

point reyes naturalist (800x533)

…like the great horned owl family in their tree so beautifully disguised (we would have completely missed them!):

…the bobcat on the alert in the fields of tawny grass:

bobcat 2 - point reyes (800x533)

bobcat - point reyes

…and a badger giving us a rare look at his bashful self:

badger - point reyes

What was among the most thrilling on this adventure was an epic scene straight out of a BBC documentary.  The male elks were feverishly duking it out with their crazed charging head lock ceremonies:

tule elk bulls - point reyes

The crash of the antlers, the worn-out huffs of exhaustion, and their strained bugling (high-pitched calling) filled the silence, not accompanied by the music you might expect from a documentary!

tule elk - point reyes 3

The males worked furiously to herd the females in between bouts of head crashes.  (Did any of us breathe while watching this?  We can’t remember, it was too exciting!)

Not only did we see these epic interactions in true, wild form, but we were also treated to many others in the midst of their daily life:

An egret looking for an afternoon snack:

egret - point reyes

The adolescent heron who was clearly inexperienced in trying to hunt for underground gophers:

heron - point reyes (800x533)

A skunk pair ambling through the grass:

skunk pair - point reyes

A red-tailed hawk spreading its wings and swooping down from above:

red tailed hawk - point reyes

The mama coyote who pierced the silence with her howls to her pups who wandered off:

mama coyote - point reyes

The elusive “grey ghost” (the Northern Harrier) who was gone as quick as he arrived:

grey ghost - point reyes

The quail family taking a stroll down the lane at sunset:

quail - point reyes

And beautiful landscapes that stretched out to the horizon:

We couldn’t believe the incredible wildlife that Point Reyes had to discover!  We especially loved being able to learn more about the habitat and animals from our highly skilled guide, who is clearly passionate about what he does!  We would have missed so many sights, not known what to look for, and not have experienced such a thrilling adventure without his expertise.

We fell in love with the natural beauty and wildlife treasures of Point Reyes, and were saddened to find out this incredible haven may possibly disappear in the very real near future.  Increased farm land is threatening to take over, completely changing the habitat and rendering it uninhabitable for many of these creatures, including so many of the ones that we saw: bobcats, badgers, owls, herons, egrets, and tule elk, among hundreds of other animals.

What’s even more, is that this potential change would render these lands to have no public access for nature-goers like you and me.  The lands would be converted to either row crops or sheep and chicken farms — either of which would result in the downfall (and even slaughtering!) of creatures like tule elk, bobcats, and coyotes, along with the habitat loss of countless others.

In 1962 Point Reyes National Seashore was created to “save and preserve for purposes of public recreation, benefit and inspiration, a portion of the diminishing seashore of the United States that remains undeveloped“.  Let’s keep it that way, shall we?

The public comment period is open for a very short time. If you agree, please join us in taking the opportunity now to comment, stating your objection to the allowance of row crops and to any new commercial animal farming, along with the removal of any Tule elk from their native land.

Comment link: https://parkplanning.nps.gov/POREGMPA

The future of Point Reyes National Seashore will be permanently changed without public input. Please take this opportunity right now to comment.

May we treasure the land and sea, and always strive to protect these treasures!

Live porpoisefully, The Taylors

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