Monday, June 13, 2011

Day 3: Yellowstone/Grand Teton National Park Groupshoot

Young Grizzly Close Encounter by Mark/MPEG (Midwest Photography Enthusiasts Group)
Young Grizzly Close Encounter, a photo by Mark/MPEG (Midwest Photography Enthusiasts Group) on Flickr.

The MPEG Group entered Yellowstone at 5:39 am this morning. The forecast wasn't pretty but we worked through it.

Over half of the 12 MPEG members on this Groupshoot have never been to Yellowstone or visited many, many years ago so I spent the day giving the Group a "Tour of Yellowstone" to help them become acquainted with Yellowstone and it's areas (Madison, Norris, Canyon, etc.)

Throughout the day, we experienced: RAIN, FOG, SNOW, SLEET, and SUN with temperatures from 33F - 47F. It rained about 40% of the day.

We started via Madison (from West Yellowstone) and I pointed out the Madison eagle's nest. There was one adult bald eagle sitting proudly in the nest but the light was too low (as it was raining and overcast)

We made our way to Norris to Dunraven Pass where the snow line was above our vehicle's roof on Dunraven Pass. It was snowing most of the way through the Pass. I "wished everyone a Merry Christmas" on the our walkie talkies. We then stopped by the Tower Falls osprey nest and were greeted with two big horn sheep ewes and a lamb within 30 feet of us..... and we enjoyed the ospreys bringing in fish and sticks to the nest! Great stuff .. We then encountered a black bear in Tower. I got some nice frame filling images of her/him.

We stopped at Slough Creek. No wolves but a grizzly far up on the hill. We proceeded to Lamar Valley and saw a beautiful snowed tainted landscape with many bison, elk, pronghorn, and a grizzly foraging for food on the ridge line. Everyone loved Lamar Valley.

After Lamar, we moved on to Mammoth and Gardiner. No big horn sheep detected in Gardiner Canyon. but saw a bald eagle and two osprey. We drove by Swan Lake Flats which was flooded then on to Hayden Valley. It rained most of the way then stopped for awhile while we were in Hayden Valley.

The Hayden Valley Grizzly and her two cubs were on the west side of Hayden Valley but were pretty far out. We moved on to the Fishing Bridge area for lunch then out to Mary and Sedge Bays and then on to Lake Butte Overlook. At this point, the group "broke up" to "do their own thing" for the rest of the day.

Jared and I went back to Hayden Valley and found a cow elk nursing her calf but she (cow elk) laid down to rest before I could get set up but I got some decent images of the calf.

We were driving east past the Fishing Bridge and I said to Jared, "Lets go back to Mary Bay and see if there are any eagles around"... and..  (you cant make this stuff up folks) at that moment a bald eagle flew over our car into the woods by Mary Bay. While at the May Bay eagle's nest ( no eagles on the nest, BTW), we were told by another visitor that there was a bear up the road so we quickly changed plans and zipped up the road.  

About a mile or so, there was a young grizzly bear eating grass by the bay... he/she ran at some canada geese and flushed them.... he/she then came up the hill right towards us (not charging us, just working his/her way to us while eating grass. Of course, many people with no brains got real close. Though Jared and I were not that close, we did unlock our bear spray and had it ready!  

The image above was taken at 300 mm (no, that's not my car). I have some frame filling images taken with the 500 + 2X TC but we had to go down the road a bit in order to get the whole bear in the frame which means we were at a safe distance. I will post these images on my website soon.

After this exhilarating close encounter of the grizzly kind, I went to meet  and introduce myself and Jared to one of my FB friends who works at the Yellowstone Lake Hotel. I had never met David until today. He has been kind in helping me prepare for my trip to YNP. I appreciate David's kind assistance.

David's YNP blog is here: if you would like to read about his YNP adventures.

Jared and I  returned to West Yellowstone at 8:45 pm (but stopped by the Madison eagle's nest but no eagles around) . We had a great pizza at Wild West Pizzeria for dinner and called it a 15 hour day.

We are back at it again at 5:00 am. All MPEGers are on their own Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. We are spending Wednesday all day together in the Grand Teton National Park.

Day 4 adventures coming tomorrow. Stay tuned.


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