June 28, 2018 Port Townsend, Washington

Blacktail Twins
Blacktail Twins

Fawns, Flowers, and Whale Watching

Lounging Blacktail Bucks
Lounging Blacktail Bucks

Port Townsend has a large intown resident deer population, and some would say, a large intown deer problem. Click here and here for local news articles on these urban deer.

Blacktail Buck
Blacktail Buck

It is difficult to drive anywhere in the residential part of town without encountering these beautiful animals.

Backyard Grazing
Backyard Grazing

As a person that formerly maintained a large collection of perennials in gardens around my home and business, I can’t imagine what the folks here in Port Townsend have to put up with in trying to maintain their gorgeous landscaping.

Blacktail Mom and Twins
Blacktail Mom and Twins
Blacktail Twins
Blacktail Twins

As a tourist here, I enjoy being able to see and photograph these youngsters, there really are few animals as cute as these guys.

Blacktail Fawn
Blacktail Fawn
Blacktail Twins
Blacktail Twins

To the many serious gardeners here in Port Townsend, I am sure it’s a different story.

Blacktail Twins
Blacktail Twins
Blacktail Twins
Blacktail Twins

These youngsters obviously can’t read that they are not supposed to be here.

Port Townsend Flowers
Port Townsend Flowers

And here is the reason the inner city is so popular with all these deer, just an unlimited buffet of delectable gourmet deer food.

Port Townsend Flowers
Port Townsend Flowers
Port Townsend Flowers
Port Townsend Flowers

Many gardeners in town have erected deer fencing in an effort to keep the deer out. Local ordinances limit the height of any fences to six feet, not an unsurmountable height for for some of these deer.

Port Townsend Flowers
Port Townsend Flowers
Port Townsend Flowers
Port Townsend Flowers

A drive around town reveals some very impressive landscaping. I envy the ability to grow such a wide diversity of plants in this environment. The difference in available plant selection in Zone 4 where I gardened and here in Zone 8 is huge. Don’t envy them the challenge of growing some of these flowers amongst the deer herds though.

Port Townsend Flowers
Port Townsend Flowers
Port Townsend Flowers
Port Townsend Flowers
Port Townsend Flowers
Port Townsend Flowers

Some wonderful dogwoods in bloom right now.

Port Townsend Flowers
Port Townsend Flowers
Tree Bark
Tree Bark

Even the bark of some of the trees is photo worthy.

Humpback Whale
Humpback Whale

Whale Watching Trip on the Redhead

Humpback Whale
Humpback Whale

A four hour whale watching trip out of Port Townsend was a wonderful way to enjoy a beautiful calm and sunny day ( the only one here so far ).

Orcas
Orcas

The whale watching part of the trip was actually kind of disappointing …

Orcas
Orcas

… spotting only one lone Humpback Whale and one small pod of transient Orcas or Killer Whales.

Orcas
Orcas

Regulations require all boats to remain at least 200 yards from the Orcas and 100 yards from other whales and our captain certainly didn’t come close to violating those rules. I would say we never got within 500 yards of the Orcas, thats over a quarter of a mile away, meaning you could barely discern their large dorsal fins poking out of the water and certainly could not get any kind of decent images of their activity.

Container Ship
Container Ship

But spending four hours on the calm waters of Puget Sound on a nice day was a welcome change of pace for me and there were other interesting sights to see out on the water.

Sea Lions
Sea Lions
Fort Worden Lighthouse
Fort Worden Lighthouse

The Fort Worden Lighthouse is much more scenic from the water than it is from land.

I hope to remain here in Port Townsend through the 4th of July week and then will venture farther out onto the Olympic Peninsula after the holiday week, hoping I might then be able to find a place to stay.

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June 2, 2018 Grand Teton National Park

Grand Teton Bison
Classic Western Scene

Last of the Wildlife Shots From Grand Teton

This park is proving to be a great spot for wildlife photos in the spring. I had been visualizing a shot such as the one above since I arrived here and heading back to the campground the other day, here they were, a small group of bison heading down to the Morman Farm area and needing to cross the road just as I was passing by.

Pronghorns
Pronghorns

And farther up the road, on the same day, this group of female pronghorns, grazing amongst the Arrowleaf Balsamroot flowers. I had really hoped to finally get some shots of some pronghorn fawns but I guess I am just a little too early for that as these gals look like they are still a week or so away from having little ones.

Bear #399 and Cubs
Bear #399 and Cubs

I briefly ran into Bear #399 and her cubs again, though this time only for a brief moment as they crossed a meadow and quickly disappeared into the woods.

Retreating Elk with Calf
Retreating Elk with Calf

Finally I have seen a new born elk calf, though I couldn’t get a decent shot of it as mom hastily retreated when I appeared on the scene. At least I know that they are giving birth at this time, though I have seen very few elk cows out and about recently.

River Otters
River Otters

Jackson Lake Dam Outlet

I spent some time at the outlet below the dam on Jackson Lake yesterday and was surprised at the amount of activity there. I had stopped just to watch the shore fisherman and see what they were catching ( small Lake Trout and some Cut throat Trout ).

River Otter
River Otter

While watching the fisherman casting from shore I noticed a pair of River Otters diving in the rushing waters coming out of the dam. Unfortunately I missed getting the best shots as the pair would catch a fish, dash ashore and climb the bank, then rush across thirty feet of open ground to some bushes, where they would be mobbed by three young otters they were delivering the fish to. All quickly disappeared back into the brush to eat and then the adults would return to the river to fish again.

Common Mergansers
Common Mergansers

Also actively fishing the churning waters were a small group of Common Mergansers, here seen resting on shore before heading out into the rapids.

Common Merganser Pair
Common Merganser Pair
Common Merganser Pair
Common Merganser Pair
Common Mergansers
Common Mergansers

They concentrated their efforts at the edge of the rushing waters exiting the dam, most likely picking off fish that were stunned as they came through the dam.

White Pelican
White Pelican

A pair of White Pelicans were also working the same area.

White Pelicans
White Pelicans
Trail Obstruction
Trail Obstruction

One morning I noticed a few large Bison Bulls as I was driving the main road in the park and pulled off and parked and headed down a trail through the willows to see if I could get a closer shot of them. As I rounded a corner of the trail, I ran into a trail obstruction, in the form of the aforementioned Bison. The three bulls stared at me as I looked around for the safest way out of this situation. Two of the bison turned and jumped over the fence you see on the right, clearing the top rail with their front legs but loudly crashing the rail as their bellies came down on the fence. The third bison simply stood his ground, so I retreated back to my parked car.

Grand Teton Bison
Grand Teton Bison
Grand Teton Bison
Grand Teton Bison

You just can’t appreciate just how large these animals are until you are face to face with them. Very powerful animals.

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May 31, 2018 Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Great Grey Owl
Great Grey Owl

More From the Tetons

Absolutely lucky that someone else had spotted this Great Grey Owl not far from the park road since he was perfectly camouflaged against the bark of the pine where he was perched. If not for the photographer already shooting this bird, I never would have stopped.

Great Grey Owl
Great Grey Owl

He changed perches a few times …

Great Grey Owl
Great Grey Owl

… including this spot that yielded the perfect shot.

Great Grey Owl
Great Grey Owl

Soon others stopped to check out this large, beautiful bird, and as so often happens, out came the cellphone photographers, racing closer to the owl, eventually scaring him farther and farther away until he was out of their reach.

Disheveled Pronghorn
Disheveled Pronghorn

The Pronghorn is usually one of my favorite subjects, but not this early in the summer as they shed their winter garments for their summer wear.

Indian Paintbrush
Indian Paintbrush

Out at the end of Flat Creek Road, on the far side of the National Elk Refuge …

Indian Paintbrush
Indian Paintbrush

… I found a hillside covered with Indian Paintbrush.

Arrowleaf Balsamroot and Indian Paintbrush
Arrowleaf Balsamroot and Indian Paintbrush

Mixed in were several patches of Arrowleaf Balsamroot.

Wildflowers, Stormy Skies
Wildflowers, Stormy Skies

And as I was setting up and taking these flower shots, I thought I heard something behind me, about 50 feet away down a steep embankment along the Flat Creek.

Newborn Moose Calf
Newborn Moose Calf

Moving a little closer to the top of the bank, I saw this obviously fairly recently born moose calf, wobbling along behind his mother.

Newborn Moose Calf
Newborn Moose Calf

Mom had spotted me and was leading her newborn to a more sheltered area across the shallow creek.

Newborn Moose Calf
Newborn Moose Calf

She had to turn and offer encouragement to her calf to entice him to join her in crossing the creek.

Newborn Moose Calf
Newborn Moose Calf

Eventually safely across the creek and feeling a little safer having put some distance between us, they laid down to get some rest. I do not think I missed this calf’s birth by more than a few moments, probably the smallest moose calf I have ever seen. Wish I had some better, closer shots, but Mom wanted to remain in the willows and out of sight of predators and I certainly wasn’t going to push her and her young one out into the open.

The Tetons

The Magnificent Tetons

Grand Teton
Head in the Clouds

Since I was able to spend a full two weeks here this spring, I could patiently await blue skies or puffy cumulous clouds to set off the dramatic snow capped peaks of the Tetons.

Oxbow Reflections
Oxbow Reflections

As usual this year, I had my share of rainy and overcast weather, but I also had some just gorgeous blue sky days. So on gloomy days, I searched for wildlife, and when the sun came out, I looked for flowers and mountain shots.

Spring in the Tetons
Spring in the Tetons

The Jackson Hole area has become one of my all-time favorite spots to visit. I usually am here in the fall for the moose so this was my first time here in the spring, and the crowds were smaller, though still too many people for my tastes.

Spring in the Tetons
Spring in the Tetons

As usual, I stayed at the Gros Ventre Campground and it was definitely less crowded than in the fall, in fact, they still had two loops of the campground closed while I was there.

Plus there was more, and more accessible wildlife here, than I had encountered in Yellowstone just the week before, with fewer people pursuing them. On one of the rainy days, I braved the crowds and visited several of the many fine art galleries in downtown Jackson Hole. So, fine wildlife art, beautiful mountains, a quiet campground, as well as plentiful wildlife, what not to like about the Grand Tetons in the spring.

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May 29, 2018 Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Blondie with Cubs
Blondie with Cubs

A Beary Good Day in the Tetons, Part II

Blondie
Blondie

This is Blondie, a Mama bear with two two year old cubs, found grazing in Pilgrim Flats at the same time as Bear #399 and her two cubs were, a very rare occurrence.

Blondie
Blondie

A ranger told me that just a day ago, Bear #399 took exception to Blondie being in her territory and there was a bit of a row and #399 drove her from the area, obviously only temporarily.

Blondie
Blondie

Those two would appear to be pretty evenly matched, sizewise, but #399 is much older and is the more dominant bear, again, according to the ranger.

Blondie
Blondie
Blondie
Blondie

Blondie was constantly picking her head up and surveying the area to detect any sign of trouble from #399, who was on the other side of the highway, a couple hundred yards away.

Blondie with Cub
Blondie with Cub
Blondie with Cub
Blondie with Cub
Blondie, the Entertainer
Blondie, the Entertainer

As you can easily see, these bears collect quite a crowd of admirers. I would hazard a guess that at this time, an hour after I first arrived here, there must have been 200 people here with cars lining both sides of the road for a quarter mile or so.

Blondie with Cub
Look Both ways

The rangers and the bear control volunteers put out traffic cones to keep an area clear for the bears to cross the highway, the idea being that no vehicles, or people are allowed in the area protected by the cones.

Grizzly Cubs
A new Plaything!

But to the cubs, the cones are there for another purpose. The cubs were easily distracted by the discovery of a new plaything.

Grizzly Cubs
Grizzly Cubs

What are all those people staring at?

Blondie Retrieving Cubs
Blondie Retrieving Cubs

Mom hurries back to gather up her cubs and whisk them to safety, off the road and away from all those people.

Blondie Retrieving Cubs
Blondie Retrieving Cubs

But they are hesitant to leave behind their new discovery.

I would assume that I have just about used up all my luck concerning bear shots for this trip to the Tetons. Today was an exceptionally unusual day, two bears, each with cubs, on a sunny morning, doesn’t get much better than that!

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