Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Yellowstone Elk

Elk (Cervus elaphus) are the most abundant large mammal found in Yellowstone.  More than 30,000 elk from 7-8 different herds summer in Yellowstone and approximately 15,000 to 22,000 winter in the park.

While driving around the park on Saturday I thought I might find Elk along the Madison River on the west entrance to the park.  Sometime in September and early October is the Elk breeding season or "rut season".   I hoped to maybe find a large bull beginning to gather his harem but only found a small group of cows with their teenagers from this years birth.  Here is a mother  still keeping a watch on her growing youngster.

These two youngsters were playing in the river's edge.

This youngster was keeping a watchful eye on the photographers along the shore of the river.

This will be my last blog post from Yellowstone.  I'll likely post a few more topics in the coming weeks from my summer here and then will switch back to Florida wildlife, primarily birds which will begin their southward migration soon. 

To my friends from Yellowstone, a big Thank You for making this a special summer and I hope to see you again. 

To my family, Thank You for allowing me the time to live my dreams and for taking care of things while I'm away.

Thanks to everyone for following my Yellowstone adventure.    David

Monday, August 29, 2011

Yellowstone Pronghorn (Antelope)

On Saturday I traveled through most of the park remembering the many photo opportunities presented to me this summer.  As I traveled through the Lamar Valley I spotted a small family of Pronghorn not far from the road.  The Pronghorn is the fastest north American land animal capable of speeds of 60 mph.  It is estimated there are less than 1,000 Pronghorn in the Yellowstone ecosystem today.

This nice Pronghorn buck appeared to be the leader of the family.  He was usually on the outside of the family grouping keeping a watchful eye.  Bucks will have horns up to 25 cm long and females will have smaller or no horns.

These two young Pronghorn are sparring in practice for when they are grown and begin fighting for territory and dominance over a group of females.

I have one more post planned with pictures of a small family of Elk.   I will be leaving the park on Thursday making my way back to Florida.

Thanks for following my Yellowstone adventure.   David

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Teton National Park

It was my last weekend in the park so on Friday I returned to the Tetons to see if I could finally find a moose, hopefully the big bull moose near Moose Junction that I'd heard so much about.  On the way down I saw a Red Tailed Hawk sitting on a fence post so stopped and got this picture.

I didn't find the bull but did find this nice looking cow in a small pond on Moose Wilson Rd.  The angle and the light weren't the best but I got the following pictures.

Today I spent my last day off driving through the park looking for any photo opportunities.  I watched a family of Pronghorn play for almost an hour and later in the day saw several young Elk playing in the Madison River.  I'll post one last blog from Yellowstone with the Elk and Pronghorn in the next few days.

As always, thanks for following my Yellowstone adventure.   David

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Yellowstone Bison

Approximately 3,000 to 4,000 bison live in Yellowstone.  Yellowstone is the only place in the US where bison have lived continuously since prehistoric times.  In the early 1800's bison were almost hunted to extinction by European-American settlers.  Yellowstone was the only place in the states where wild, free-ranging bison persisted into the 20th century.  Even though protected, Yellowstone’s bison were reduced by poaching to approximately two dozen animals in 1902. From that small herd has grown the two large herds now occupying Yellowstone National Park. Many people consider the protection and recovery of bison in Yellowstone to be one of the great triumphs of American conservation.

The rut (breeding season) begins in late July and goes through August. Bulls display their dominance by bellowing, wallowing, and fighting other bulls. Once a bull has found a female who is close to estrus, he will stay by her side until she is ready to mate. Then he moves on to another female.

The two bulls pictured here have picked their mating partner and are bellowing possibly to alert other bulls of their selection.

Only two more weeks before returning home to Florida.  I hope to have a few more blog posts before leaving.   This weekend I will travel to Teton Nat'l Park in search of that big bull moose that has eluded me thus far. 

As always, thanks for following my Yellowstone adventure.   David

Friday, August 12, 2011

Osprey in the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

Back in July I posted a few pictures of an Osprey nest perched on a rock pinnacle in the canyon below the lower falls on the Yellowstone River.  I visited again this week and the three chicks are ready to fly.  I expect they will make their maiden voyage this week.  I watched as they were on the edge of the nest exercising their wings expecting one to take the leap any moment. 

Remember you can "click" on a picture to see a larger image.

Only a few more weeks before returning to Florida.  Evening temperatures are getting lower and I found frost on the car this morning. 

Thanks for following my Yellowstone adventure.  David

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Glacier National Park Lakes and Waterfalls

While in Glacier I did several short hikes of 3 to 6 miles.  Late one afternoon I hiked to Avalanche Lake.  This is a 4 to 5 mile round trip hike which gains 500 feet on the way in.  It is a beautiful lake with at least 5 waterfalls cascading down the opposite mountain side.

This is the view from the overlook viewing Hidden Lake.  This is normally an easy 1.5 mile hike from the Logan Pass Visitor Center but some of the heavy snow fall from last winter remains on the slopes and trail.  About 90% of the hike was on snow.  Hidden Lake is one of the most visited places away from the road in the park.  As you can see there is still ice/snow on portions of the lake.  Remember this was on August 7th.

This is Wild Goose Island in Lake St. Mary on the east side of the park.  This was photographed from the Going to the Sun Highway.  This was mid day so the sun is harsh on the mountains.  Next time I'll be there at sunrise.   The water really is that blue.

One final picture of St Mary Falls.  This is a short easy hike and can be extended out to Virginia Falls.  In this picture I experimented with extending the exposure time to give the water a look of motion.  It's not quite the look I wanted but will keep working on it.

With only two days in Glacier I just touched the surface so I guess I'll have to return some day.  Next time I'd like to also visit Waterton Lakes National Park on the Canadian side.

Thanks for following my Yellowstone (and Glacier) adventures. 

Glacier National Park Mountain Goats

I just returned from a long weekend in Glacier National Park.  Glacier is truely a park for hikers with over 700 miles of trails.  Only one road (Going to the Sun Highway) travels through the park for 50 miles.  It starts on the west side at Lake MacDonald at an elevation of 3150 ft and travels upward to Logan Pass at 6646 ft before dropping back down to St Mary Lake on the park's east side.   One of my goals was to photograph the park's iconic mountain goats which can usually be found along the trail to Hidden Lake from the Logan Pass Visitor Center.  It was about a 2 mile hike over snow to the Hidden Lake overlook and as I reached the top I found this mountain goat waiting for me.

Although in this picture he is partially shaded I liked the compositon of the tree and the snowy background.

These are of course in their "summer" coat.  During the winter months their coat can be eight inches thick. 

I'll be posting more mountain goat pictures at by PBase website.  I'll also be posting a second blog on Glacier Nat'l Park on the hikes that I did.  Remember you can "click" on the picture to enlarge.

 I only have three more weeks working in Yellowstone before returning home to Florida. 

Thanks for following my Yellowstone adventures.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Yellowstone Coyote Den

Last week I heard about a coyote den that was not far off the road so I have visited the den several times this week.  There are two pups from the spring litter.  I have not seen the parents as they are probably out hunting when I'm there. 

"Are you looking at me?"

"Somethings down there."


"I love you too."

Until next time, thanks for following my Yellowstone adventure.  David