2014 Countdown: 20 Favorite Wildlife Photos

In the long and proud tradition of year-end countdowns, I thought I’d mark the end of 2014 with a few of my own. This first series is “20 Favorite Wildlife Photos.” Out of all the wildlife I managed to photograph this year, I like these the best.

#20:  Black rat snake (Squamata: Colubridae: Elaphe obsoleta obsoleta or Pantherophis obsoletus obsoleta)
Location: Zaleski State Forest near Athens, Ohio
Date: May 2, 2014
When you stumble upon one of the longest snakes in North America laying across a trail, you tend to remember it.  This individual was about five feet (1.5 m) long and was cooperative enough to allow me to get some close-up photos.


Black rat snake (Squamata: Colubridae: Elaphe obsoleta obsoleta or Pantherophis obsoletus obsoleta) photographed 05/02/2014 at Zaleski State Forest near Athens, Ohio.

#19:  American bullfrog (Anura: Ranidae: Lithobates catesbeianus)
Location: Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge near Bono, Ohio
Date: June 28, 2014
Although I’ve heard plenty of bullfrogs over the years, this was the first time I got to see one up close and personal. I thought the reflections of cattails and other plants in the water made this photo more interesting.


American bullfrog (Anura: Ranidae: Lithobates catesbeianus) photographed 06/28/2014 at Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge east of Bono, Ohio

#18:  Black-tailed prairie dog (Rodentia: Sciuridae: Cynomys ludovicianus)
Location: Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota
Date: August 17, 2014
Although relatively common across much of the Great Plains, it’s still pretty fascinating to watch these large rodents communicate among their communal dens. They have barks to notify each other of a variety of interesting events, and have distinct calls for each of the various predators that may threaten them…including humans.


Black-tailed prairie dog (Rodentia: Sciuridae: Cynomys ludovicianus) photographed 08/17/2014 at Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota.

#17:  Antelope ground squirrel (Rodentia: Sciuridae: Ammospermophilus sp.)
Location: Petroglyph National Monument, New Mexico
Date: February 8, 2014
Although abundant and relatively uninteresting, there was something endearing about this little guy chewing on a seed among the black basalt boulders he called home.


Antelope ground squirrel (Rodentia: Sciuridae: Ammospermophilus sp.) photographed 02/08/2014 at Petroglyph National Monument near Albuquerque, New Mexico.

#16:  American pika (Lagomorpha: Ochotonidae: Ochotona princeps)
Location: North Cascades National Park, Washington
Date: August 16, 2014
These tiny, unassuming mammals may look like mice but they’re more closely related to rabbits. They eke out a living among high-elevation rocks in the North American west, communicating with adorable little squeaks. They’re easier to hear than see, so when you catch a glimpse of one you want to grab a photo.


American pika (Lagomorpha: Ochotonidae: Ochotona princeps) photographed 08/16/2014 at North Cascades National Park, Washington.

#15:  Greater Roadrunner (Cuculiformes: Cuculidae: Geococcyx californianus)
Location: Big Bend National Park, Texas
Date: February 9, 2014
I didn’t see this bird drop a boulder on a coyote, go “beep beep” and then run off, but it was pretty quick. I was glad to get this shot before it disappeared.


Greater roadrunner (Cuculiformes: Cuculidae: Geococcyx californianus). Photographed 02/09/2014 at Big Bend National Park, Texas.

#14:  White-tailed prairie dog (Rodentia: Scuiridae: Cynomys leucurus)
Location: Arches National Park, Utah
Date: April 15, 2014
Far less common than its black-tailed cousin to the east, this white-tailed prairie dog was fun to watch. It didn’t have any nearby relatives to bark at, and instead spent its time casually gnawing on the leaves of a canaigre dock.


White-tailed prairie dog (Rodentia: Sciuridae: Cynomys leucurus) photographed 04/15/2014 at Arches National Park, Utah.

#13:  Young eastern newt (Caudata: Salamandridae: Notophthalmus viridescens)
Location: Zaleski State Forest near Athens, Ohio
Date: May 3, 2014
Eastern newts aren’t terribly impressive as adults, but the juvenile “red eft” stage of development presents some striking coloration. These little amphibians spend most of their time among damp leaf litter, so it takes some patience and luck to happen across one.


Young eastern newt (Caudata: Salamandridae: Notophthalmus viridescens) photographed 05/03/2014 at Zaleski State Forest near Athens, Ohio.

#12:  Caribbean reef squid (Teuthida: Loliginidae: Sepioteuthis sepioidea)
Location: Royal Naval Dockyard, Bermuda
Date: May 23, 2014
It’s not every day a marine animal hangs out near the shore where you’re standing, so when you see one you’ve got to get some photos.


Caribbean reef squid (Teuthida: Loliginidae: Sepioteuthis sepioidea) photographed 05/23/2014 near the Royal Naval Dockyard on Bermuda.

#11:  Bobcat (Carnivora: Felidae: Lynx rufus)
Location: Big Bend National Park, Texas
Date: February 11, 2014
This is a terrible photo but I felt fortunate to get even a bad shot of a bobcat. They’re relatively common but highly elusive predators, and are rarely seen in the wild. Even more interesting is what was happening when this photo was taken. My wife and I watched two of these small cats scurry nervously across the desert floor in the early morning twilight, only to be pursued a moment later by a mountain lion. It seemed like the mountain lion was hunting them down, and if I could have captured the whole scene it would have been fascinating.


Bobcat (Carnivora: Felidae: Lynx rufus) photographed 02/11/2014 at Big Bend National Park, Texas.

#10:  Bald Eagle (Accipitriformes: Accipitridae: Haliaeetus leucocephalus)
Location: Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
Date: September 7, 2014
I’ve seen Bald Eagles a few times, but never as up-close-and-personal as at Yellowstone National Park. My wife and I were on our way out and thought we had seen everything we were going to see, but two of these American icons were waiting for us by the side of the road near the west exit.


Bald eagle (Accipitriformes: Accipitridae: Haliaeetus leucocephalus) along the Madison River. Photographed 09/07/2014 at Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

#9:  Trumpeter Swans (Anseriformes: Anatidae: Cygnus buccinator)
Location: Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
Date: September 5, 2014
The Teton Range reflecting against Oxbow Bend on the Snake River is a sight to behold, and even more so when a pair of Trumpeter Swans decide to paddle across.


Trumpeter Swans (Anseriformes: Anatidae: Cygnus buccinator) on Owbow Bend along the Snake River. Photographed 09/05/2014 at Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming.

#8:  Dunlins (Charadriiformes: Scolopacidae: Calidris alpina)
Location: Assateague Island National Seashore, Maryland
Date: May 14, 2014
Although these little wading birds didn’t look like much from a distance, their active fishing was interesting to watch up close. The bird in the foreground had a small fish in its beak.


Dunlins (Charadriiformes: Scolopacidae: Calidris alpina) photographed 05/14/2014 at Assateague Island National Seashore, Maryland.

#7:  Canada Geese (Anseriformes: Anatidae: Branta canadensis)
Location: Zaleski State Forest near Athens, Ohio
Date: May 2, 2014
Canada Geese are exceedingly common in the eastern United States, but it’s not every day you see a new family going out for a swim on a stream.


Canada Geese (Anseriformes: Anatidae: Branta canadensis) photographed 05/02/2014 at Zaleski State Forest near Athens, Ohio.

#6:  Columbian black-tailed deer (Artiodactyla: Cervidae: Odocoileus hemionus columbianus)
Location: Mount Rainier National Park, Washington
Date: August 15, 2014
While the low clouds and fog obscured the views of Mount Rainier, they did lend a sense of fantasy wonder to the plants and wildlife on the meadows flanking the mountain.


Columbian black-tailed deer (Artiodactyla: Cervidae: Odocoileus hemionus columbianus) photographed 08/15/2014 at Mount Rainier National Park, Washington.

#5:  Pronghorn (Artiodactyla: Antilocapridae: Antilocapra americana)
Location: Badlands National Park, South Dakota
Date: August 18, 2014
While watching the large herbivore herds that wander across the western reaches of Badlands National Park, I got this nice shot of two pronghorn facing the rising sun.


Pronghorn (Artiodactyla: Antilocapridae: Antilocapra americana) photographed 08/18/2014 at Badlands National Park, South Dakota.

#4:  Bull elk (Artiodactyla: Cervidae: Cervus canadensis)
Location: Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
Date: September 5, 2014
Elk are relatively common in the American west but only bull elk sport large racks. Males grow these impressive structures during the mating season “rut” in late summer and early autumn. Catching a glimpse of the enormous antlers is rewarding, but hearing bull elk “bugling” is even cooler.


Bull elk (Artiodactyla: Cervidae: Cervus canadensis) along the Madison River. Photographed 09/05/2014 at Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming.

#3:  Mountain goat (Artiodactyla: Bovidae: Oreamnos americanus)
Location: Glacier National Park, Montana
Date: August 9, 2014
It’s not hard to spot mountain goats near Logan Pass at Glacier National Park, but seeing one three feet in front of you is pretty shocking. While hiking the Highline Trail this individual popped out from behind a bush right next to my friends and I, giving us a nervous look as we cautiously backed away.


Mountain goat (Artiodactyla: Bovidae: Oreamnos americanus) photographed 08/09/2014 at Glacier National Park, Montana.

#2:  American bison (Artiodactyla: Bovidae: Bison bison)
Location: Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota
Date: August 8, 2014
During the nineteenth century humans nearly hunted American bison to extinction, driving their numbers down from about 30 million to only a few hundred in only a few decades. Today these large herbivores are enjoying a small bit of recovery on protected lands. There are few things in this world that can compare to a one-ton beast of pure muscle strolling right past you, especially when it’s against the badlands of Theodore Roosevelt National Park.


American bison (Artiodactyla: Bovidae: Bison bison) bull near the Ridgeline Trail. Photographed 08/08/2014 at Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota.

#1:  American black bear (Carnivora: Ursidae: Ursus americanus)
Location: Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
Date: September 4, 2014
Bears are among the most enchanting of North American mammals. They’re relatively uncommon, hard to locate, and relatively shy. When planning and luck fall in your favor and you happen to catch a glimpse of one, it’s something to remember forever.


Large black bear (Carnivora: Ursidae: Ursus americanus) along Moose-Wilson Road. Photographed 09/04/2014 at Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming.

About Jeremy Sell

Science and nature nerd.
This entry was posted in General, Invertebrate Zoology, National Parks, Vertebrate Zoology and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to 2014 Countdown: 20 Favorite Wildlife Photos

  1. Wonderful series. My sister and her friend were able to rescue a bobcat that was hit by a truck in front of them. They are both vets and got it to a rehab for surgery, rehab, release…. Happy New Year…. Michelle

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Jeremy Sell says:

    Glad to hear they were able to help.


  3. Jet Eliot says:

    Your wildlife photos here are incredible, Jeremy. That mountain goat siting was a miracle! 🙂


  4. Jeremy Sell says:

    I don’t know what was more priceless…finding ourselves that close to a goat, or my friend’s reaction when it suddenly appeared next to him.


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