September 29, 2013 Grand Tetons National Park

Teton elk
Teton elk

This is starting to sound monotonous, but once again woke to grey, threatening skies, rain and snow showers, but still decided to head out at least over to the Moose-Wilson Road to see if I could find some moose. I seem to be caught in an unfortunate bit of weather since my arrival a week ago here in Grand Teton National Park. It has been solid overcast for 7 days now with rain, snow and sleet every day, nothing accumulating, thankfully, and the roads remain passable and safe, just terrible weather for attempting what I am here for, wildlife photography. But, I suppose it all evens out eventually, I have had wonderful conditions for most of my stays at Glacier N. P. and Yellowstone, so I am not complaining, just letting you know why there are not that many great photos as of late.

Teton elk
Teton elk
Teton elk
Teton elk

 

 

 

 

Nothing to show for my trip along the Moose-Wilson Road, so I drove on into the park through the Moose ( village of, not the animal ) entrance. Only about a mile in, I observed a large group of elk in the vast meadows to the east of the road, but they were just a little too far off to photograph. Continuing on just a half mile or so, I noticed a very rough, rutted, gravel road heading out into that same meadow, a very ominous “four wheel drive recommended” sign posted at the road entrance. Since it appeared that the road may provide access to the elk herd, I figured I would risk going in as far as I could make it without getting into trouble. Though very slow going, due to huge dips and waterfilled low spots in the barely passable road, I did manage to make it in over a mile and, sure enough, was able to get close enough to get some decent shots of a bull elk and his large harem, with other lone bulls waiting on the perimeter for a chance to steal cows from his group. In the distance, I could see two more groups of elk in this same meadow, so this gravel road apparently is the place to be here in the park if you want to get close to the elk action.

Teton elk
Teton elk

September 28, 2013 Grand Teton National Park

Teton elk
Teton elk

Snow flurries, sleet, and dark, threatening skies kept me at home this morning. Finally the weather lifted enough to go out around 4.

Aspens and dark skies
Aspens and dark skies
Aspens
Aspens

 

 

 

 

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!

Mule deer
Mule deer

 

A mule deer buck sporting a pretty nice set of antlers.

 

 

 

Teton bull moose
Teton bull moose
Teton bull moose
Teton bull moose

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Laughing moose
Laughing moose

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.

Teton elk
Teton elk
Teton elk
Teton elk

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grazing moose
Grazing moose

 

 

 

 

September 27, 2013 Grand Teton National Park

Great grey owl
Great grey owl

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.

BlackFeedingVertBlackbearApproachVert

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Great grey owl
Great grey owl
Great grey owl
Great grey owl

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Great grey owl rotate left
Great grey owl rotate left
Great grey owl rotate back
Great grey owl rotate back

 

Great grey owl rotate right
Great grey owl rotate right

 

Great grey owl straight on
Great grey owl straight on

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

September 26, 2013 Grand Teton National Park

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. BrokenAntler

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.

CowInTheSnowContinued 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.