Posts tagged ‘national park’

Grizzly in Golden Light

[Meet Teddy! One of our “co-watchers” said that they had been watching this same male bear for five years…since he was a cub. They nicknamed him “Teddy.”]

The search pattern one develops while looking for wildlife in Yellowstone, is to carefully scan the roadside…not for critters…but for parked cars! A car pulled off to the side of the road usually means there is a critter someone has spotted. One evening, while returning from a trip to the southeast entrance, we saw several vehicles pulled onto the shoulder. We slowed, but assuming it would turn out to be a Bison, we expected to just cruise on down the road…
“Grizzly!” We gushed in unison…a very good find. And the Griz was in beautiful evening light. Unfortunately (or fortunately) the bear was about 170 yards away…a safe distance to be sure, but a little too distant for a straight 400mm lens. Thankfully Ryan (www.irentphoto.com) had loaned me a 500mm f4 lens, onto which, I put a 2x teleconverter. This combo on the 7D created a 1600mm lens equivalent (Some of the video was shot with TWO 2x teleconverter, AND a 1.4x teleconverter, creating a 4480mm lens!! Not the sharpest video in the world..but useable.)


As is often the case with Yellowstone Grizzlies, this bear was so intent on feeding that he rarely even stuck his head up for more than a few seconds every few minutes. He was actively digging for tubers…and with winter coming on fast, he had no time to lose in fattening up.

Here’s a video of “Teddy” the Grizzly digging tubers…Not very exciting but this is what Grizzlies do 90% of their waking time…EAT! Especially important since he would soon be going down for a long winter’s snooze.
What is the diet of a 300lb. to 600lb. male Grizzly in Yellowstone? According to the park’s website…”From September through October, whitebark pine nuts are the most important bear food during years when seeds are abundant (Mattson and Jonkel 1990). However, whitebark pine is a masting species that does not produce abundant seed crops every year. Other items consumed during fall include: pond weed root, sweet cicely root, bistort root, yampa root, strawberry, globe huckleberry, grouse whortleberry, buffaloberry, clover, horsetail, dandelion, ants, false truffles, and army cutworm moths. Some grizzly bears prey on adult bull elk during the fall elk rut.” So Teddy was likely digging for either yampa root, bistort root or sweet cicely root.

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Stalked and Charged by a Coyote in Yellowstone!

This was my last image before the Coyote rushed me. It is obvious from his intense eyes and forward-focusing ears that I was his prey.

I’ve never been attacked by mammal when in the field shooting…sure I’ve been dive-bombed by Skuas in Iceland, terns in Alaska and MN but never charged. Ryan spotted this Coyote first…It was crossing Slough Creek and never once looked at us. I decided to lay up against the river bank to see if he’d come out of the woods near me. Ryan went east to see if he could cut him off in the meadow. A few minutes later here comes the Coyote, only 50 feet away and slowly stalking something. But he was staring at me. I didn’t put 2 and 2 together that THE COYOTE WAS STALKING ME! I took video until he got within 30 feet or so. I then switched to taking stills. I got off 2 or 3 shots and then I stuck my head behind the camera again to check the LCD and when I looked around my camera a second later the Coyote was in my face! His head was above mine and he was only six feet away. I jumped up and started yelling at him…He sauntered off…He did not run…I finally found a rock and chucked it at him. He kept going. No time for fear until it was all done. My heart was beating! The Coyote had covered the last 25 feet is a split second…If I was a rabbit I wouldn’t have had a chance.
Watch the video and “reenactment” below

Coyote canine teeth are large and efficient killing tools…And I nearly got to experience them.

It’s a pretty unique photo…But little did I know he would be hunting me very soon.

We let a nearby campground host if he’d heard any strange Coyote stories lately…He laughed and said, “About an hour ago a couple in the campground were approached by a Coyote that just walked up to them to within 3 feet!…Not stalking just like it was begging.” We later found out that a woman had been bitten pretty badly by a Coyote a week previous in another part of the park. I don’t think this guy had rabies…eyes were clear, fur nice and thick, no foaming mouth…but this behavior is a bit unnerving. Anyway, a ranger was dispatched to the area to check it out…but we never did hear what happened to the Coyote of Slough Creek.

Wild West Landscapes October 2012

[**Just a reminder, landscapes look pathetically puny at 470 pixels wide, but by clicking on an image you can view it at a bit larger scale in a new window.]

Yellowstone is known for its wildlife, but it is also a fantastic place for landscape photography. Especially good because you can include the wildlife in your scenics for added interest and scale. Here are a few of my favorites from our recent mid October trip.

Ryan brought along a 9-stop neutral density (ND) filter, a high-quality screw in filter from B+W that allows long exposures even on sunny days. I threw it on my Sigma 10-20mm lens to create this 20 second exposure. When on the lens, it is impossible to autofocus, so you need to focus BEFORE putting on the filter. I love the smooth buttery flow of the water and the glow of the shaded rock wall. 10mm lens at f22 for 20 seconds (!) ISO 200.

We were following a bull elk across the landscape when we topped a rise and found this dramatic scene. I excitedly set up the tripod and then realized I’d left my 70-200mm lens in the car. So off I ran, hopping dozens of downed trees from the fires of 1988 still laying on the ground. When I returned the scene had changed…and not for the better. Still, I like this shot…It has a prehistoric Ice Age feel. Canon 70-200mm f4 lens at 200mm.

We thought this cloudless morning would mean a drama-less dawn, but steam from the Firehole Geyser basin created this sunrise scene. Canon 70-200mm lens handheld braced on car door.

The shaded canyon of the Firehole River at dawn. The water, heated by geothermal features upriver, steams on cold mornings. The pre-dawn blue was emphasized in Aperture. Canon 70-200mm lens handheld.

Our trip coincided with clear night skies and a very late moonrise which enabled us to get great shots of the Milky Way. This one was taken straight up through the Ponderosa Pines, which were lit by just the glow of a campfire. Sigma 10-20mm lens at 10mm f4 for 30 seconds. ISO 800. On a tripod. Tungsten white balance.

Is this a landscape image OR a wildlife shot? Not sure really, but I like the peaceful feel of the grazing Bison along the Firehole River (Fountain Flat Drive). Canon 70-200mm lens at 122mm. f7.1 at 1/400 second on tripod.

These “skeleton trees” near the Firehole Lake Drive never seem to disappoint. We have shot here many times and the conditions always seem to be different. Blue cast emphasized in Aperture. Sigma 10-20mm lens at 14mm, f9 1/1000 second. Tungsten white balance.