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 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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May 27, 2018 Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Bear #399 and Cubs
Bear #399 and Cubs

A Beary Good Day in the Tetons

Grand Teton N.P. Unsettled Weather
Grand Teton N.P. Unsettled Weather

I arrived at the Gros Ventre Campground in Kelly, Wyoming, just outside Jackson Hole, on Thursday, apparently bringing the unsettled weather with me.

Grand Teton N.P. Unsettled Weather
Grand Teton N.P. Unsettled Weather

Storm clouds, a bit of sun, rain, hail … just can’t seem to escape this kind of weather this year. Does combine at times to produce some dramatic shots though. The above image is the scene as I exit the Gros Ventre Campground on what turned out to be a very rare, exciting day in the Grand Teton National Park.

Bear #399
Bear #399

Bear #399

Bear #399
Bear #399

( For a little background of Bear #399, arguably the most famous bear in the world, click here.)

On Saturday of the Memorial Day Weekend, I had originally planned to just stay home and avoid the holiday crowds, but at 5:30 in the morning when I caught a glimpse of a little bit of sun through the storm clouds at sunrise, I decided I would venture out, hoping the holiday crowds might be sleeping in..

Bear #399
Bear #399

I drove about thirty miles north on the main road to an area referred to as Pilgrim Flats and couldn’t believe my eyes when I spied a very healthy looking grizzly with two large cubs grazing in the flats not more than hundred yards off the side of the road.

Bear #399 and Cubs
Bear #399 and Cubs

And more amazing yet, early morning golden light and no rain!

Bear #399 and Cubs
Bear #399 and Cubs

I was able to position myself with the sun to my back and couldn’t believe that the bears seemed very content to do their thing and were oblivious to myself and some other early morning photographers who were able to take advantage of this incredible opportunity.

Bear #399 Nursing Cubs
Bear #399 Nursing Cubs

When Mom stopped grazing and called the cubs in to nurse, I just couldn’t believe how fortunate I was to have abandoned my plan to stay home on this holiday weekend.

Bear #399 Nursing Cubs
Bear #399 Nursing Cubs

Don’t think I would want to ever see those claws up close and personal.

Bear #399 Nursing Cubs
Bear #399 Nursing Cubs

Very healthy two year old cubs and obviously, a very experienced mother.

Bear #399
Bear #399

After spending the better part of two hours with these guys, and with crowds gathering, I departed Pilgrim Flats and continued up the highway to see what else I might run into.

A Second Encounter with Bear #399 and Cubs
A Second Encounter with Bear #399 and Cubs

On my return south on the highway, about two miles north of where I originally encountered these bears, I saw them coming out of the woods heading down to a small pond and pulled over to see if I could get any different type of shots. But by this time traffic was getting very heavy and my stopping started a huge ” bear jam ” on the highway. Just incredible how quickly the road backed up and people stopped in the middle of the road, on both sides, people darting in and out of traffic, just chaotic, and not my cup of tea. So, I left #399 and her cubs to the holiday crowds and hurried home to get my shots on the computer to see if I captured anything worthwhile in my early morning encounter with this star of the bear world.

An Obsessed Mountain Bluebird

Female Mountain Bluebird
Female Mountain Bluebird

While I have had other birds, at other campgrounds, be attracted to their reflection in the motorhome’s mirrors, I have never run into one as obsessed as this female Mountain Bluebird.

Female Mountain Bluebird
Female Mountain Bluebird

She shows up at sunrise and returns all throughout the day to try and discourage this interloper she sees in the mirror, trying to intrude on her territory.

Female Mountain Bluebird
Female Mountain Bluebird

Other times I have observed this kind of behavior, it has always been a male bird and I have never seen one so aggressively fight off this perceived intruder. She was making such a mess of the mirror that I finally had to go and wrap a plastic bag over the mirror, whereupon she turned her attention to the other other mirror, that she had previously ignored. Now both mirrors are wrapped in plastic, but she still shows up several times a day to check on the intruders she knows must be there but that she can no longer see.

Next post, another bear encounter at the same location, but a different bear!

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September 16, 2015 Hyder, Alaska

Searching For Salmon
Searching For Salmon

A Couple Days at Fish Creek

I arrived at Fish Creek just after first light this morning and was shocked at the number of people already there. The parking lots were all but full and there must have been forty or more folks braving the cool, drizzly weather. The word of yesterday’s visit  to the area by a mother grizzly and her two cubs, a visit that I missed, must gotten out quickly. But by nine AM, with no bears showing up, everyone left and I had the place to myself, no bears plus rainy weather sent all the sensible people home.

As usual, just click on any image for a larger, sharper version.

Searching For Salmon
Searching For Salmon

But finally, the same bear I had seen here before came wading into the scene and I was rewarded for my patience.

The One That Got Away
The One That Got Away

He began chasing salmon as soon as he arrived, mostly with no luck.

In Hot Pursuit
In Hot Pursuit
In Hot Pursuit
In Hot Pursuit

Upstream, downstream, going after one fish, but suddenly distracted by another, changing directions, didn’t really seem to have a very good game plan for actually catching a live fish.

In Hot Pursuit
In Hot Pursuit
In Hot Pursuit
In Hot Pursuit
End of the Chase
End of the Chase

But finally he managed to corral one and tore into his first catch of the day.

End of the Chase
End of the Chase
The Catch
The Catch

He seemed kind of proud of this catch!

Leaving the Area
Leaving the Area

After half an hour of mostly coming up empty in his pursuit of live salmon, he moved downstream …

Dead Ones Are Easier to Catch
Dead Ones Are Easier to Catch

… and discovered this rather large, deceased chum salmon. Guess he figured out that a dead salmon is easier to catch than those live ones.

Salmon Feast
Salmon Feast

He hauled it out of the water and worked on devouring the whole thing over the next ten minutes or so.

Heading Downstream
Heading Downstream

Then he headed downstream and out of sight.

Camera Shy Bruiser
Camera Shy Bruiser

I waited around for another two or three hours in the rain, hoping for some more action, but, except for this huge bear that briefly stuck his head out of the bushes, then rapidly disappeared, my wet wait was in vain, and I packed it in around two o’clock and headed back to Meziadin Campground to begin getting ready to depart tomorrow morning.

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