Bison use their heads to shove aside snow that is covering what is left of the grasses that they eat in the winter. This bull’s face is caked with the remnants of snow he has shoveled aside to get at some nourishment. While a Bison makes this task look effortless, the hump, consisting of huge muscles between his shoulders, creates the power that allows these huge bovines to push away the snow so they can eat.
I am quite taken with the canines of Yellowstone National Park and I’ve been privileged to photograph Gray Wolves, Coyotes, and Red Foxes there. Our most recent adventure in Yellowstone started off with a bang as we spent a couple of hours photographing several Coyotes while they dined on a half frozen Elk carcass in the Lamar River. This Coyote sports a thick and gorgeous winter coat as it watches the other Coyotes feasting on the Elk.
Two years ago in Yellowstone National Park, we had the most amazing series of encounters with a gorgeous Red Fox vixen. At the time, I posted a similar photograph of this lovely lady but as I look back at the images from that encounter, I decided I like this one because I captured her looking directly at me. She was busy that day, mousing in the field, caching her prey in the snow banks behind us, then returning across the road to mouse some more. I was hoping to see her again last month but when we returned to her meadow, she was not in evidence.
The ultra-charming River Otters that cavorted in the Lamar River in Yellowstone National Park near the half-frozen Elk carcass in the water took a brief break from their lively antics and watched the Coyotes from a distance. This is one of the few shots that had all their faces showing. Their movements were so quick and so fluid that it was an unexpected bonus to see them all when they paused, ever so briefly.
“Bend over let me see you shake a tail feather.” The Five Du-Tones recorded those words in the early 1960’s and I bought their 45 single of Shake a Tail Feather at Tower Records in Sacramento a couple of years later after one of my college roommates played it for me. I realize this is NOT a tail feather. It is one of Bobo’s wing feathers that she molted yesterday morning. And, besides, I sing “Shake a Tail Feather” to her all the time and I thought it made a good blog theme. The past few days Bobo has rallied and seems like her old self again, eating normally, interacting with me, not constantly sleeping, and talking, whistling, and calling out to me when I leave the room. I hope it continues. I photographed this feather using my 105mm macro lens and my two new ProFoto A10 flashes, one with a grid to keep the light from spilling and just to enhance the green part of the feather, and one with a snoot to concentrate the light just on the downy barbs. After I looked at this image, I was surprised to see that some of the downy barbs were in fact yellow. I had to look at the feather with a magnifying glass in sunlight and indeed, they are yellow.
When we arrived at the edge of the Lamar River where the Elk carcass was half submerged, a small pack of Coyotes was nearby, drinking from an area of open water. Then, one by one, they followed a narrow trail in the snow to return to feed on the carcass. Once the trail is cleared, it’s easier for the animals to use and they don’t have to waste energy breaking a new path.
A handsome bull Elk walks with purpose through the grasses in a meadow outside Yellowstone National Park just off the Old Yellowstone Road in October. The fading grasses almost look like they’re dappled with snow but when we were there in October, there was no snow. It came a few days after I took this photograph.
When I put the garbage cans out last evening, I noticed the moon stage, a waxing crescent. The sky was still a deep blue and there were some remnants of pink clouds from the setting sun. In the few minutes it took me to get my camera and longest lens, the sky had turned black and the pink clouds were gone so I took this in black and white using my Z800mm lens with the Z 2X teleconverter attached. This is my first moon shot with the Z800 and the first using its new dedicated foot by Zenelli.
A Pronghorn buck stood just outside Yellowstone National Park a couple of weeks ago as snow fell around him. Clumps of ice had formed on the tips of his horns in the cold.
When you see billows of steam surrounding the magnificent travertine formations of Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park, it can be hard to believe that the air around you is only eleven degrees. There is even snow on some areas of the terraces where the steam is not escaping. The travertine is white but the bacteria (called thermophiles) tints the white to create a colorful tapestry. The beauty of this place can make you feel warm all over despite the temperature.
A Bison bull makes his way down a trail trampled in the snow by other Bison ahead of him. His face is encrusted with snow which didn’t melt because the temperatures were in the low teens.
This pair of Coyotes appears to be calculating what their next move will be. Just out of sight was the carcass of a large bull Elk frozen and partially submerged in the Lamar River.
A cow Elk grazes on dried grass protruding from the blanket of snow on a meadow in Yellowstone National Park last week.
A partially frozen Elk carcass in the Lamar River in Yellowstone National Park was a feast for which this Coyote and its pack mates were more than likely grateful. Happy Thanksgiving!
The Elk partially submerged and frozen in the Lamar River in Yellowstone National Park last week kept the Coyotes licking their chops as they visited the carcass time and time again in the two hours we watched.
It was snowing last week just outside Yellowstone National Park on the Old Yellowstone Trail Road. We found a small band of Pronghorn including this ram walking across the snow covered grasslands.
The antics of a trio of River Otters entertained us for a couple of hours as they romped in the partially frozen Lamar River last week in Yellowstone National Park slipping in and out of the narrow channels that remained unfrozen. They could not keep their eyes off the Elk carcass that was partially submerged in the water but they seemed not to be able to get up the courage to venture closer. Although it was in the midst of the Otter domain, Coyotes dominated the carcass, resting on the snow covered ice close by when they were sated and chasing away the Black-billed Magpies that picked at the frozen flesh. Unconcerned, the Otters occupied their time frolicking above and beneath the ice just for the sheer joy of the frolic. Their antics were hilarious as they romped across the ice, climbed a hill, then slid down the embankment, only to climb up and slide down again. They would run across the ice, disappear into the water, and emerge a hundred yards down the river. When we thought they’d disappeared for good, they would reappear, suddenly popping up in an unfrozen spot in the river to peer at the carcass again. They really are the clowns of the river.
The abundant stands of willows in Yellowstone National Park provide food for Deer and Elk. One afternoon, we came across several Elk does grazing on the willows along side Grand Loop Road. They stripped and chewed the bark while we watched from a distance.
The temperature on our last day in Yellowstone National Park yesterday hovered around a chilly 10° most of the day. As we approached the Lamar Valley mid afternoon, we stopped to photograph a couple of Bison bulls who were grazing on what was left of the meadow grasses. The yellowing grasses are buried under the snow so the bulls must brush aside the snow using their heads, plowing through the snow and swinging their heads side to side. The massive hump above a Bison’s shoulders is solid muscle, developed specifically to allow them to push away snow with their heads so that they can uncover the grasses and sedge that enable them survive the cold, harsh Yellowstone winters.
We had such a magnificent sunrise view of the Absaroka Mountains along the Yellowstone River in Paradise Valley on Tuesday morning. What a marvelous view to start the day.