Pine Marten captured by Z 9 / 800f5.6AFS

If your time machine took you back forty-two years to the Central Coast of California, you would have found Sharon & I with the trunk of the Camero open, chairs out watching and photographing the Southern Sea Otter. A very endangered critter, it was the first member of the weasel family that grabbed my imagination. A few years later I was at a Black-tailed Prairie Dog town in SD where a Black-footed Ferret popped up from a burrow right next to me to give me, “that stare.” It instantly went back down and a minute later popped back up from another burrow and then disappeared. I was hooked but the weasel family is not one to easily find, study nor photograph.

There was one part of their biology I really wanted to capture, their “periscope.” Water or land based, all members of the weasel family get their head, neck and back up above the landscape to spy on what’s around them. In that process, the look on their already cute faces becomes even cuter. Last week in Yellowstone, I saw my opportunity so I went and set up to capture just that one photo. Didn’t care about any other, I just wanted that one! Because, it just takes one photo to tell the story. It was gently snowing, the light saturated from the overcast, the conditions were, picture perfect. To show off the falling snow, I needed a dark background and I wanted the Pine Martin front lit. Those two requirements dictated where I was going to stand. I was going for just that one photo. I’ve seen it in Sea Otters and River Otters, Ermine and Fishers but this I figured was going to be my best chance in forty-two years to captured it. It just required two more hours and I finally had the photo I wanted. The one Sharon said, “that’s exactly what I want for the wall.” Time rewards all.

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