Photos: Stunning Bay Area wildlife

Wildlife abounds in the Bay Area, not only in the rugged wilderness of Mount Diablo and Big Basin, but also in the parks and open spaces that dot our urban and suburban landscapes. The Sunol Regional Wilderness, where raptors of every feather fly overhead, and Ao Nuevo, where gargantuan elephant seals famously loll about on the sand, are both guaranteed to see wild creatures.

Unexpected treasures, on the other hand, await those with a keen eye and the patience to wait, as our Bay Area News Group photographers demonstrate in this stunning collection of images.

“Often it also takes a bit of luck and good timing,” staff photographer Jane Tyska said of spending the day at the Foothills Nature Preserve in the Palo Alto hills in the hopes of photographing one of the preserve’s elusive mountain lions. Instead, she saw a coyote snacking on a gopher, and she “lucked” into seeing another coyote — near San Francisco’s Coit Tower, where the animal’s presence was unexpected.

Karl Mondon agreed on the amount of time required to photograph nature’s artistry. He grew up near Golden Gate Park’s Lloyd Lake and visits to check out the birding scene whenever he can. “Sometimes you go for days without a glimpse,” he went on to say. “Other times they just won’t stop smiling for the camera.”

During the rainy season, Jose Carlos Fajardo has had success staking out spots like Indian Creek in the Shell Ridge Open Space — toads abound — and even the manmade lake at the suburban Heather Farm Park in Walnut Creek.

There is wildlife wherever there is water.

Ray Chavez captured the unusual sight of flocks of pelicans feasting at Lake Merritt in Oakland on a day when he stopped by to photograph runners, bikers, and hikers. “Took too many photos until I saw this white pelican surrounded by the brown pelicans, plus the nice sunlight dropping in it,” he said. It was a lovely picture.

“After I took those photos, the pelicans left.”

A moment in time.

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