Snow flurries, sleet, and dark, threatening skies kept me at home this morning. Finally the weather lifted enough to go out around 4.
The one nice thing about the continual dark skies this week is that every now and then, when there is a distant break in the clouds and a little sunlight actually gets through, it can make for some dramatic shots.
Took the park road up to Colter again with a side trip up to the top of Signal Mountain, quite a view!
A mule deer buck sporting a pretty nice set of antlers.
I got these almost humorous shots of a bull moose having a bad hair day, or maybe he was bringing this stuff home to learn basket weaving, I don’t know, but he made no attempt to shake the grasses off in the half hour I spent with him.
In this image, he almost seems to be laughing at himself.
Just before leaving the park, a little north of the Visitor’s center, a lone bull elk came flying out of the woods and came towards the road looking for a safe place to cross. I managed to get a few shots of him silhouetted against the evening sky, but unfortunately, he just wouldn’t run all the way up the bank and pose in profile.
Made the move today from the expensive Fireside Resort CG to the more reasonable Gros Ventre Campground 4 miles off route 89 heading towards the tiny village of Kelly.
No hookups, but with the worst of the weather past, $10.50/night versus $ 60 is kind of a no brainer.
This National Park campground is not bad, run down like most federal campgrounds I have stayed in, but for the price, what can one expect. The sites are a little close, but not too bad and there are many sites that will accomodate a rig like mine. Most of the sites are in a wooded area, but I managed to get one on the main road that gave me an opportunity to get my satellite to work. Verizon has 2 bars of 4G, so the internet is available, if not terribly fast. It says the campground, unlike all the other park campgrounds, doesn’t usually fill up.
Made a run up the park road to Colter and then did the Moose-Wilson Road.
Got this black bear there chomping down on berries, just destroying the roadside bushes. He didn’t look all that big while eating, but looked quite large when he started lumbering towards me, actually just wanting to get to some bushes on the other side of the road where I was standing.
And then there is this totally unanticipated highlight of my day! I noticed this Great Grey Owl perched in an aspen only 200 ‘ from the edge of a gravel road. After rushing to get my tripod out and running ( actually. slowly, carefully inching my way down towards her ) to a position a little closer to her, I set up my tripod and fired off one shot … and off she flew. Disappointed, I followed her a little farther into the woods where she had perched on the top of a broken off dead tree, and where she very agreeably stayed, surveying her surroundings for 20 minutes or more while I snapped shot after shot from all directions around the base of the tree. This was quite a thrill for me, this being the first grey owl I have ever seen, and to be able to get this close for so long to such a very large beautiful bird, well, as I said, definitely the highlight of my day, week, maybe even the trip so far.
Got a kick out of watching her ability to rotate her head right, left, and backwards, seems weird to be able to look behind you without having to turn around.
Awoke to just a light dusting of snow on the ground and decided to take a chance and go out looking for wildlife. Took the Moose-Wilson road over to the Park and immediately ran into a group of elk along the road, but it was too dark to get any photos. Well that was an encouraging sign.
Just outside Teton Village there is a very large, perhaps 30 acres, fenced in horse pasture right alongside the road. As I was passing, I could see all 30 or 40 horses standing at attention and staring up the pasture at another band of elk, in the pasture with them. Again, it was still too dark and snowing fairly heavy, so I continued by.
But then, I caught sight of the bull elk escorting these females and he was missing most of one side of his set of antlers, so I made a uturn and headed back to check them out a little better.
It was interesting watching the interaction of the elk with all the horses. The cow elk leading this group pretty clearly was intent on getting around the bunch of horses and wanted to get out of the pasture and cross the road. All the horses just stood like statues as the dozen or so elk, with the antler challenged bull pushing the herd, weaved through and around the horses, never getting real close to any individual horse. None of the horses ever moved so much as an inch. Once past the horses, the lead cow elk made for the roadside fence and easily leapt over it, and all the rest of the elk did the same, crossing the road and leaping over another fence to make it to a pasture with no resident horses where they settled in to graze.
All this great action with not enough light to shoot and with snow coming down sideways. I still attempted to document the bull elk and his missing antler, but as you can see, the conditions were a little challenging.
Continued into the park and came across a lone cow moose making her way across a field and heading for a probable road crossing. I pulled over where I thought she might come out and waited.The snow now was coming down hard enough that the camera had great difficulty focusing on the moose and kept wandering in and out of focus from the snowfall.
Discouraged, I turned around and headed back home to wait it out, no sense wasting gas if there was no way to do any shooting this morning.
Well, it was a bit of a relief to wake up this morning and find there was no snow covering the ground! Very grey and overcast with very limited visibility though, so I stayed in and started to get caught up on blog and photo work.
Around noon I looked out and it looked like it was clearing a bit, time to go out and see if there are any moose around. Headed back towards Jackson Hole on 22 and then took the turnoff on Spring Gulch Road, a way to bypass downtown Jackson Hole and pass through pastureland instead, where some moose or elk might be lurking ( they weren’t ).
I got this shot of a moose and her calf bedded down for the day by the edge of a small creek along the Moose-Wilson Road.
Entered the park with the Tetons concealed by clouds and fog determined to find wildlife to shoot. I was soon distracted from this mission when the clouds and fog began to break and revealed teasing glimpses of the Tetons.
Spent a couple of hours watching this in and out action of the clouds and the mountains with even a bit of blue sky popping into view every now and then.
Drove the length of the park road and then on north to Colter Bay before turning around to retrace my steps. The two small bands of elk, bedded down for the afternoon, that I passed on the way out, I was hoping would be up and around when I came back through.
By the time I got back to them though, the snow had started falling again and the heavy grey skies were just not providing enough light to get any good shots.
Through the gloom though, I observed an interesting event taking place so I pulled over to watch as a bull elk, with his harem of 6 or 7 cows, was calling out to another bull elk and his single cow on the opposite side of the road.
The lone cow seemed to want to join up with the other small group of cows and repeatedly tried to cross the road, but cars and her escorting bull elk kept discouraging her.
Finally, she made a bolt for it, the bull elk followed her and was immediately met by the other bull elk and I thought surely there was going to be some great action here. The two bulls seemed to be of about the same size and I assumed the one would not give up his female without a fight, but that is exactly what he did, as he made no attempt to challenge the other bull as he escorted the lone female back to his harem. He just stood there, looking a little dejected and discouraged as his would be honey left him for another guy. really wish there had been enough light and less falling snow to have been able to get some better images of all this, but it still was fun to observe this little drama.
It was a dark and snowing quite heavily as I carefully made my way back home.