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!

Thank you for shopping Amazon from my site!

When you click ( on the image below) through to shop Amazon from here, I get a tiny commission, one that does not in any way impact what you pay, and all those tiny commissions eventually add up and that helps me keep this blog going !


 

 

September28, 2016 Teton National Park, Wyoming

Mormon Row
Mormon Row

Last Days in the Tetons

Campground Moose
Campground Moose

Tomorrow I plan to break camp and leave the Tetons … and one of the best campsites I have had in quite a while.

Campground Bull Moose
Campground Bull Moose

And wouldn’t you know, now that I have decided to move on south to Salt lake City and Antelope Island State Park, the moose decide to move into the campground here at Gros Ventre. These shots were all taken from INSIDE my motorhome right at the crack of dawn today.

Teton Moose
Teton Moose

I have no idea what this chase is all about, kind of odd to see a cow chase off another cow, the bulls do it all the time but never saw cows doing this before.

Campground Moose Action
Campground Moose Action

When the moose come in, there are always photographers right behind them. This guy just about got clocked by the cow that sprang to life and chased after the other cow, with this photographer right in the midst of the action.

Teton Pronghorn
Teton Pronghorn
Teton Pronghorns
Teton Pronghorns

I continue to regularly locate the pronghorns along the dirt road to Mormon Row.

Teton Red Barn
Teton Red Barn
Snow Capped Tetons
Snow Capped Tetons

Nights have been getting a little chilly, being greeted by heavy frost to scrape off the windshield every morning lately. The rain that has been falling here in the campground is leaving the mountaintops covered with snow, though it still is melting away in the afternoon most days.

Snow Capped Tetons
Snow Capped Tetons
Mormon Row
Mormon Row
Teton Pronghorn
Teton Pronghorn

I took a drive out to Curtis Canyon to check out the ( closed for the season ) National Forest campground there, and had the good fortune to come upon this handsome fellow posing on the side of the road.

Teton Pronghorn
Teton Pronghorn

 

Tetons From Curtis Canyon Road
Tetons From Curtis Canyon Road

This is the view from the top of the hill by the National Forest campground looking down and across the National Elk Refuge to the Tetons.

Teton Boondock Campsite
Teton Boondock Campsite

There are a couple of wonderful boondock campsites up there, just not quite sure I would want to take my motorhome up the gravel road, a little steep and rough in spots.

Tomorrow I will be heading down to the Great Salt Lake and Antelope island State Park for a few nights as I begin my southward winter migration.

September 14, 2016 Grand Tetons, Wyoming

Coyote Pouncing
Coyote Pouncing

Mixed Bag of Weather

We have had two or thee days now of really mixed weather, mostly bad. Quite a bit of rain, day and night, much cooler temperatures, even a bit of snow on the mountaintops. So, I have only ventured out to shoot a couple of times.

Iconic Mormon Row Barn
Iconic Mormon Row Barn

When I saw some sun pop through the clouds yesterday, I quickly loaded up the gear and zipped over to Mormon Row to shoot the iconic barn. I had hoped to get Grand Teton’s peak in the background and hung around for over an hour, but it was not to be.

Iconic Mormon Row Barn
Iconic Mormon Row Barn

When the clouds darkened and rain began to fall, I decided to move on, heading north towards Moran Junction where the sky was still allowing the sun to peak through.

Clinging Clouds
Clinging Clouds

Clouds were literally clinging to the mountains.

Coyote
On the Hunt

On the way north I ran into a pair of coyotes hunting in a field along the main highway.

Coyote Honing in on Prey
Coyote Honing in on Prey

Moving rapidly across the field, they would suddenly stop, twitch their head from side to side, with their ears pointed forward, detecting the exact location of the prey …

Coyote Honing in on Prey
Coyote Honing in on Prey

… then slowly raise up on their hind legs …

Coyote Pouncing
Coyote Pouncing

… and pounce!

Coyote Pouncing
Coyote Pouncing
Coyote Pouncing
Coyote Pouncing
Coyote Pouncing
Coyote Pouncing
Coyote Digging for Prey
Coyote Digging for Prey

Then grab the prey.

Coyote with Squirrel
Success!

Carry it off and wolf it down.

Coyote
Um-um Good!

Lick their chops and go hunt for another one. I watched as they each caught a couple mice, or more likely, ground squirrels, hard to tell, since they went down so fast.

All this action took place over the course of an hour or so and occurred on both sides of the main highway through Grand Teton National Park. This is a two lane road, with paved 5 or 6 foot shoulders on both sides in this particular stretch of road. Traffic was brutal, and, needless to say, when a couple of people stop and get out with cameras, well, then everyone has to stop ( not neccessarily pulling off the road when they do so ) and ask what you are doing. While trying to concentrate on the antics of the coyotes, it is hard not to spend as much time being amazed by the incredibly stupid things that people will do.

Now most people actually do take care to get their car completely out of the travel lane of the highway, but doing so means you have to get one set of wheels off the paved shoulder and on to a steep incline to the drainage ditch. A few folks apparently didn’t want to do that so they just leave the driver’s side of their car out in the travel lane … then an idiot in a large motorhome comes along, and being too wide to even think about fitting onto the shoulder, just parks his rig three feet out into the travel lane opposite a car that has done the same thing on the other side of the road. Now we have a one lane road with twenty cars a minute trying to get through. Doesn’t work very well. And the people that caused this mess, completely oblivious to what they have done. Or maybe they do realize what they have done, but simply don’t care.

Yet with all the honking of horns and shouting of frustrated drivers, these two coyotes just ignored all the human idiots and  went about their business, sometimes coming within twenty feet of the roadway and all it’s human traffic.

Finally, the rains moved back in from the north, and, at least for me, the show was over, time to head home, dry off, and warm up. One more day of poor weather forecast, then sun and blue skies again.

Thank you for shopping Amazon from my site!

When you click through to shop Amazon from here, I get a tiny commission, one that does not in any way impact what you pay, and all those tiny commissions eventually add up and that helps me keep this blog going !


 

October 9, 2015 Grand Teton National Park

Bull Elk and Harem
Bull Elk and Harem

Patience and Perseverance Finally Pay Off

Today being the day that the Gros Ventre Campground closes for the season, I figured to give my thus far unsuccessful elk hunt one last chance before leaving Grand Teton National Park. So, at first light, I was off, once again, for Cottonwood Creek Road.

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

Elk Herd
Elk Herd
Elk Herd
Elk Herd

Slowly crawling in through the puddles and rocks about a mile or so, I spotted a large herd of elk the better part of a mile away … after seven trips in here, success at last!

Too far off to shoot from the road, I grabbed the tripod and long lens and started hiking through the sage brush towards the herd.

Bull Elk and Cows
Keeping His Distance

I am guessing that there were probably fifty to sixty cows being herded by one very impressive bull, with another equally impressive male hanging around the perimeter awaiting his chance to steal a few cows.

Bull Elk
Dominant Bull

This guy seemed to be in charge …

Bull Elk
Second Fiddle

… and kept this impressive looking character on the sidelines.

Please forgive the less than perfect images, they were shot in the very early morning light at some pretty great distances as I pursued this herd.

Bull Elk and Cows
Bull Elk and Cows
Bull Elk and Cows
Bull Elk and Cows

A most impressive rack of antlers!

Bull Elk Escorting His Harem
Bull Elk Escorting His Harem
Bull Elk and Harem
Bull Elk and Harem

Out in the sagebrush, about half a mile from my parked car, I had closed the distance to the herd to a manageable space, when the bull started driving the herd in my direction.

Bull Elk Escorting His Harem
Lots of Competition
Bull Elk
Rivals

Obviously aware of my presence, he pushed them out and around my position at a pretty fast pace, heading north across the road I had just come in on.

Bull Elk Escorting His Harem
Crossing Cottonwood Creek Road
Elk Herd
Elk Herd

Once across the dirt road, off they went, at a gallop, taking only a minute or two to get out of range of the camera. And that was that! Success at last. Got my elk, got my moose, and really enjoyed the incredible scenery here in Grand Teton National Park.

Broke camp and was on the road by noon. Really enjoyed my stay at Gros Ventre Campground and hate to see it come to an end, but I really need to get heading south, there are birds waiting for me down along the Rio Grande in Texas.

Thank you for shopping Amazon from my site!

When you click through to shop Amazon from here, I get a tiny commission, one that does not in any way impact what you pay, and all those tiny commissions eventually add up and that helps me keep this blog going !