and we went out with a bang!
Starting from West Yellowstone, we drove through Madison to West Thumb area , stopping at the Firehole River Canyon along the way to snap the falls. It was a beautiful morning in Yellowstone...mist rising from the Madison and Firehole Rivers as elk and bison grazed nearby. We stopped at Keppler Cascades to photograph the cascades. We made a pitstop at the Fishing Bridge then drove out towards the east entrance and back... then up through Hayden Valley stopping at the S-curve pullout, doing a few landscape images... then on to Canyon....in Tower Fall, we found an really cool Osprey's nest by the Yellowstone River on a rock structure allowing you to see IN THE NEST from above. The mom and her 3 very young chicks were in the nest. We photographed the mom leaving the nest and returning with a stick which she meticulously placed in a certain spot in the nest. The father arrived shortly with a piece of fish for the babies. We photographed his arrival, and the mother feeding the chicks. This was a very nature experience.
Moving on towards Lamar Valley, we turn the corner in Tower and a very nice Bighorn Sheep Ram was sitting in the grass posing for several photographers and other by-standers. Seeing a bighorn sheep ram was the furthest thing from our minds this morning, especially in Tower. We called this a "ram jam"..
We made rounds at Slough Creek where we were educated on the movements of the Slough Creek wolf pack, their den location and the four pups by the "wolfies". We didn't see any of the wolves during our brief stay. We continued on through Lamar Valley and found the usual stuff (bison, etc.) but no "jams".
From Lamar Valley, we headed to Mammoth. We quickly came upon TWO young black bears (2 miles apart) grazing about 50 yards away from the road.
It started to thunderstorm and rain by now so we stopped in Mammoth for lunch.
After lunch, we drove from Mammoth to Norris, with plans to continue on back to Hayden Valley then finish up at the Midway Geyser basin before a final farewell dinner.......
Well, those plans got derailed. As we drove from Mammoth to Norris, we ran into "grizzly jam" involving the well known Grizzly sow and her 4 cubs. It was raining hard, dark overcast and it looked like the rain would stay awhile. In about 20 minutes, the skies started to clear... and then Momma and her 4 cubs were on the go.... traveling south along the base on the valley and they were moving fast. The elk and the elk calves on the hill got " the heck out of dodge" as they smelled the Grizz coming. The elks were scattering in all directions....
The Grizzly sow at times would run and the 4 cubs would frolic ahead of her, wrestle with each other, start to climb a tree and then didn't, stand up on their hind legs and look around... they were adorable to watch through the viewfinder... a very special moment and of course, one is a runt, always lacking behind. (see pic).
The Park Rangers arrived and they expected her to cross the road so they started clearing traffic, asking us to stay back, etc.... while the rangers were concentrating their efforts south of us, someone near us, spotted the Grizz Mom about 50 yards from us in the woods!! We asked a driver of a southbound car to alert the ranger... the ranger comes running down to our area and starts to clear traffic there. After a 2 hour ordeal, the Grizz sow and her cubs never crossed the road but headed back north. The ranger speculated that with all the people noise and cars, she become nervous and decided not to cross the road with her babies.
After that exhilarating experience, we headed south to Norris to Madison and found a very nice bull elk grazing and snapped a few images of this handsome guy.
On the way back to the hotel, we stopped one last time at the Madison eagle's nest. Both adults were perched nearby in trees but no "fly ins to the nest" which is what I was hoping for.
Jared and I headed back the hotel around 8 pm, unloaded the car and had dinner with the other MPEGers, exchanging stories and memories of the last 8 days.
Jared and I are driving to Salt Lake in the early am, then flying home Friday afternoon.
This has been an unbelievable MPEG Groupshoot! I personally have 140 Gb of images to sort.
We saw everything.. big horn sheep/lambs, grizzlies /cubs, black bears/cubs, wolves, bald eagles, golden eagles, osprey/chicks, marmots, elk /calves, bison/calves, proghorn/babies, beavers, badgers, ground squirrels galore, coyotes, sandhill cranes/chicks, mountain blue birds, violet green swallows and I am sure I am missing something... AMAZING wildlife ops!.. and beautiful landscapes!
I would like to thank all of the attendees for being a great Group to work with the last week. Thanks to all of you for reading the blog and emails regarding the blog. A special Thanks to my wife, Kim for "holding down the fort" the last week.
I will be posting images from this trip here over the next few weeks: http://galloimages.zenfolio.com/p204504601
Be sure and check them out!
Goodbye to Yellowstone!
PS. Click on the pics to enlarge!
Grizz Sow and her 4 cubs in tow
Close-up of Grizz Sow
Runt of the 4 cubs catching up!