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.

September 25, 2013 Grand Teton National Park

Mountaintop
Mountaintop

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 ).

Moose and calf bedded down
Moose and calf bedded down

 

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.

Storm lifting
Storm lifting

 

Mountaintop
Mountaintop

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Bull elk in snowstorm
Bull elk in snowstorm

 

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.

Bull elk
The Challenge

 

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.

Stealing a cow
Stealing a cow

 

 

 

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.

Teton color
Teton color
Bull elk
Triumphant

 

September 24, 2013 Yellowstone to Tetons National Park

Bull moose
Bull moose

( As always just click on an image for a larger, sharper version )

Moving day as I leave Yellowstone National Park and head on down to Grand Tetons National Park, with the hopes of being able to add to my moose portfolio. I guess I was all but ready to move on anyhow, but the weather forecast calls for 3 to 9 inches of snow here Wednesday with more on Thursday, and temps in the low 20’s. While the forecast is pretty much the same for Jackson Hole, at least if I get down there today, before it starts snowing, I can get into a private campground with hookups to make it through what looks like a couple of uncomfortable days where I will be holed up inside, and it sure would be nice to have electricity for heaters and such.

Trip down to the Fireside Resort Campground in Wilson, WY., just west of Jackson Hole was a pleasant one, with nice weather and not much traffic. The campground is nice enough, though certainly tight, but no way worth the nearly $60 a night, but it will do to get me through the next few stormy days.

Storm brewing
Storm brewing

Took this image of a the threatening storm front coming over the mountains from a pullout along route 89.

Bull moose
Bull moose
Bull moose
Bull moose

 

 

 

 

 

After setting up, I still had an hour or two of daylight so I took a trip up Spring Gulch Road and into Tetons National Park. As luck would have it, I ran into a nice bull moose as soon as I went through the entry gates to the park, he was moving fast like he had somewhere to go and needed to get there before dark.