Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Day 5: YNP/GTNP - 2011 Fall Trip

Grey wolf on carcass by Mark/MPEG (Midwest Photography Enthusiasts Group)

We started at 7:00 am but the weather forecast looked gloomy. It was very cloudy at 7am and we figured it would be a high ISO day but it turned out to be a good weather day overall. After a McDonald's breakfast, we headed into the park and quickly came upon a 7x6 bull elk and his harem. We got some beautiful images of this elk and his girls. We discovered an osprey's nest by the Madison River occupied by two osprey.

We then proceeded towards Mammoth with the intent to check out the Blacktail Plateau 6 mile drive. No wildlife found but a few nice landscapes. We moved on to Tower area. I suggested we drive Lamar and see if anything is happenin'.  We saw tons of bison along the route to Lamar. As we entered Lamar Valley, a coyote popped up from the roadside and crossed the road in front of me, I got a nice image of him from the car with the 70-200.

Things looked quiet... until we turned the bend and I radioed Dan and said," we have a big jam" up ahead. We stopped and asked "what ya got"? and it was one word, WOLVES!. We parked, and set up and didnt realize at first that the Lamar Canyon pack took down an elk cow Monday night (the night before) and the carcass was 200 yrds (rough guess) or so from the road. I used my 1DM4, 500 + 2X TC with a 30% crop on the image posted above. We spent around 3 hours with the wolves skipping lunch. There were 4 wolves present total but only one at a time on the carcass. Also present, a ton of ravens (of course), several magpies, at least 2 coyotes hanging around waiting for their turn, and we had 4 bald eagles around, with two landing and picking at the carcass. The wolves kept chasing all these "visitors off", so they were busy all the time. It was great to watch all the action. Just really cool. It's amazing how "picked clean" the carcass was in such a short period of time. We were hoping a grizzly would show up but no grizz while we were there. We endured 3 rain episodes during this time. We had no plans to leave. Rain be damned.

After this highlight of the day, we split up. Kim and I went over to Hayden and did a few landscapes, went out to Sedge Bay and no significant wildlife noted. We headed back to the hotel and stopped by Madison again and spent a few minutes with the elk and his harem again.

We had a pizza with Dan and Bonnie for dinner.

The weather is progressively getting colder with a real good possibility of significant snow on Thursday. We are hoping for below freezing temps the next two days. The worse the weather, the more wildlife out and about. Plus we want that elk bugling with some nice breath in the frosty air!

So far, it has been a terrific trip. I still need to find Kim a bear. The bears are few and far between here now.  "They are around" but nothing like the Spring (of course).

Two more days to go.  Stay tuned for Day 6.

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