Peter and his deceased wife, Susan Pearce, could be described as animal lovers. For perhaps circumstantial or practical reasons they shared a particular affinity for cats and birds. With respect to cats, the Pearce’s have included in their family many domestic cats. In recent years they have had four cats, all of which are “indoor” cats. Keeping the cats as indoor animals is necessary where they lived in the Santa Monica Mountains because of their vulnerability to predators such as Coyote, Hawks, Owls, Bob Cats, and even Mountain Lions. In short, these pet cats would be someone’s lunch if they spent much time out of doors.
Because of the location of their home in the Santa Monica Mountains, which was also their place of work, they are frequently visited by wild animals. Because there have been so many species of birds visiting the Pearce property, some bird feeders were installed at a spot that was opportune for observing them. This is bird watching of convenience where the birds come to the observers, in this case, the Pearce’s. Similarly, the Pearce property is frequently visited by Mule Deer and Coyote, and occasionally by Bob Cats and Mountain Lions.
Once again, an opportunity arises for the photographer. Between the domestic cats at home, and the constantly visiting wild animals and birds, there are surprising opportunities for the decisive moment. Sometimes conditions are just right to capture an image of these compelling creatures – the proximity, the lighting, and the moment are sufficient to enable a photograph worth sharing.
As mentioned in the foregoing Pearce no longer lives in the Santa Monica Mountains, having moved to Ojai, California in December 2018. Although there are plenty of birds visiting the Pearce residence the wild animals generally remain at a distance within the local mountain ranges.
The following photographs include:
- Wild Animals
- Wild Birds
- Cats at Home
One of the most remarkable surprises of living in the semi-wilderness is the visitation from some truly wild animals. Although not uncommon, the Coyote and Mule Deer are handsome animals. Some would take exception with respect to the Coyote, but no one could argue with the elegance of the Mule Deer. Both of these animals are frequent visitors and it is not unusual for them to come within a few feet of the residence.
Although the opportunity for photographs worth sharing presents itself, it is not without its challenges. Although the animals do come close in, the lighting and setting are not always ideal for a good photograph. The ubiquitous decisive moment remains the modus operandi.
A special treat presents itself with the very rare visit from the beautiful and compelling wild Bobcat. These wonderful creatures are pervasive in the Santa Monica Mountains, but like all wild cats are generally a solitary species. It is rare to see one and especially one to boldly appear within a few feet of the residence. Mercifully, this happened a few times under circumstances of light, proximity, and setting, which enabled photographs that capture some of the features of this wonderful animal.
When the Pearce’s moved to the semi-wilderness of the Santa Monica Mountains in 2002, they did not anticipate the variety of wild bird species that would visit their property. These photographs have documented most of the species of bird that regularly visit the Pearce’s. Some of these birds visit only seasonally, but reliably so. All of these photographs were taken with a digital camera from vantage points inside the residence. This made it possible to capture these images without disturbing the birds. This avoided the use of long telephoto lenses, usually a requirement to photograph birds in the wild.
The close proximity of the birds to the residence enabled a more intimate experience than might otherwise be the case. The challenge was to capture the birds under circumstances of favorable natural light and appropriate settings that would reveal they’re essential morphology.
Cats at Home
Perhaps these photographs will appeal mostly to those who have an affinity towards the domestic cat. For those so inclined, these images will entertain, as they attempt to capture the personalities and varied interactions of these cats. The Pearce family of cats includes two American Shorthair Classic Silver Tabby siblings, named Oliver and Gilley, one American Short Hair Shaded Silver, named Willow, and one grey short hair of no particular pedigree, named Poly. They are shown in various solitary poses, as well as in various group settings. Note particularly the affectionate relationship between Poly and Willow. The curious, touching, and attentive personalities of these cats have been irresistible to the camera lens of Peter Pearce.