My last year of photography had broader taxonomic scope than birds and flowering plants, of course. I got some good images of mammals across the range of habitats I hiked and toured. Top billing has to go to the miniature foxes of Santa Cruz Island, above, which have fully taken over the campground where we spent two nights, napping yards away from occupied campsites and always on the lookout for unguarded snacks. It was like camping in a cat cafe, if the cats were a protected species.
But I also photographed less — and arguably more — exotic members of the Mammalia. I got maybe my best wildlife shot of the year when a chipmunk posed fro me on a boulder beside the trail south of Stevens Pass, in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.
There was also a deer mouse that simply wandered across the trail as we returned from the Storm King summit in Olympic National Park.
And there was a Douglas’s squirrel, the most common species around a lot of west coast wilderness, that chided us from a branch on a hike outside Westport, Washington — staying nicely in view long enough for a super-clear image.
In the Hoh Rainforest on the same extended visit to Olympic National Park, we were briefly surrounded by a herd of elk, who were clearly not bothered by hikers, much less inclined to get out of our way. They tolerated photos and then moved along at their own pace.
And then finally, arguably the trickiest mammal image I got all year was en route to Santa Cruz Island — common dolphins surfing the wake of the boat we took from Ventura to Scorpion Cove.