"A Sand County Almanac"

"THERE ARE SOME WHO CAN LIVE WITHOUT WILD THINGS AND SOME WHO CANNOT."
"FOR US IN THE MINORITY THE OPPORTUNITY TO SEE GEESE IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN TELEVISION.".....Aldo Leopold




"LOOK DEEP INTO NATURE, AND THEN YOU WILL UNDERSTAND EVERYTHING BETTER".....Albert Einstein


Friday, June 16, 2017

YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK (Part Nine) Black Bears

Black bears seem to be more common in Yellowstone this year than in Grand Teton National Park.  Each year we tend to see them in the same areas indicating they have established territories much the same as grizzly bears do.

Some bears that we see have been sixteen month old cubs, forced out by their mothers.  The sows will be in heat soon and it would not be safe for the young bears to be in the vicinity when boars come around seeking to mate…


Many bears are seen grazing on grass near the roads…






This sow, with two cubs, caused a traffic jam at the Yellowstone bridge when traffic had to be halted for them to cross the river via the bridge…









Some black sows, like this one, have cinnamon colored cubs, and on occasion, one cinnamon and one black…




This cinnamon sow had a single cinnamon cub.  I was able to photograph them near the petrified tree; a well known landmark in Yellowstone…









Thanks for visiting, be well, and come back soon.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK (Part Eight) Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep

This has been our first trip to Yellowstone when no mature bighorn rams were visible.  Thanks to a small band of young sheep at the Yellowstone picnic area we were able to view some each time we went by.

This small ram seemed to have a hard time staying awake...





A ewe was bedded down nearby...



These three ewes were arguing over the pecking order in the harem....



I am pretty sure the darker one behind the tree won...



While passing the Calcite Spring area we spotted this ewe with her lamb...



Thanks for visiting, be well, and come back soon.

YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK (Part Seven) Back-Country and Road-Side Bears

There are two types of bears that live in our parks.  No, I am not referring to the species of bear but, rather, to their behavior and living preferences.

The first three images are of a courting pair of grizzly bears found on Swan Lake Flats.  The images were taken with 900 mm equivalent optics and further cropped during post processing.  These are back-country bears in the truest sense.  They have no desire or inclination to approach roads or humans...







The next images are of a sow grizzly and her two cubs taken on Pilgrim Creek.  These are also back-country bears.  As soon as they saw me step from our vehicle they turned around and ran as fast as they could; crashing into the thick willows without slowing down...







Road-side bears are accustomed to traffic and park visitors.  Their ancestors may have been raised near roads for generations.  A commonly held theory is that sows learn that living near roads provides an element of safety for her cubs from boars, which have been known to kill young bears.  Whatever the reason they choose to live near roads, park visitors love them, and many bears have their own following on social media.

The following images are examples of road-side bears and some of the unique dangers that they face...


  

The next image is of a boar that would not likely be found near a road except for the fact that he was pursuing a female in heat...



Road-side bears often show no fear of humans and will approach within a few feet of visitors...



It is important to remember that these bears are wild creatures and, while fortunately they do not consider humans prey, one can never know what is going through their minds.  If at all possible, maintaining the 100 yard minimum distance from bears and wolves is the safest practice...



All of my wildlife photography is done with a Tamron 150-600 mm lens.  When set at 600 mm, and combined with the 1.5 crop sensor in my camera, I have the equivalent of 900 mm magnification.  This allows images that fill the viewfinder while staying a safe distance from the subject...




Thanks for visiting, be well, and come back soon.

YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK (Part Six) Pikas and Weasels

Yellowstone is well known for the large animals that live here including moose, bison, bears and several others.  There are small animals here, too; ones that many visitors never see.

Pika look like, but are not, rodents. They live in rock piles at higher elevations.  See how quickly you can spot the pika in the following photos...











Long-tailed weasels have been my nemesis since coming to Yellowstone.  I would occasionally catch a fleeting glimpse of one, but they would never be still long enough to take a photograph.  Last year I read that weasels were the most common predator of pika.  I adopted a new tactic that meant waiting hours at a known pika location in the hopes that a weasel would come by.  This tactic worked, to a degree.  The weasel hardly stopped moving for an instant but I was able to capture an image or two...










I will keep trying to get a better image of a weasel and I hope you will continue to visit the bog, be well, and come back soon.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK (Part Five) Pronghorns and Predators

In a place where a natural balance occurs between predators and prey, there is often life and death drama that humans don't witness regularly.

The buck pronghorn is defending his fawn from a hunting coyote.  Luckily the coyote is hunting alone.  Each move that the coyote makes to get close to the unseen fawn is countered by the buck...





















Finally this coyote grew frustrated and decided to seek easier prey.  This morning we saw a mother nursing her fawn in the sagebrush...



Pronghorn fawns are full of energy and their parents have to keep a close eye on them to prevent them from running into trouble...











Thanks for visiting, be well, and come back soon.

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