Tag Archives: moose

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 17, 2016 Grand Tetons, Wyoming

Teton Bull Moose

Teton Bull Moose

Finally! Moose, Plus a Meadowlark

Meadowlark

Meadowlark

Ran into this guy singing away on Mormon Row first thing in the morning. Had to stop because you never can have too many shots of these guys singing their hearts out.

Meadowlark

Meadowlark

Plus he did give me this bonus shot … never got that pose before.

Teton Bull Moose

Teton Bull Moose

Finally, I ran into a nice bull moose not mostly concealed in the willows.

Teton Bull Moose

Teton Bull Moose

Saw some antler tips sticking up out of the sagebrush and got myself set up with the sun behind me to be ready to get some nice shots when he finally decided to get up.

Teton Bull Moose

Teton Bull Moose

He was bedded down not too far away from a cow he obviously was shadowing while waiting for her to become receptive to his amorous advances. I had to wait patiently for over an hour and a half for the two of them to finally get up and get moving. Guess they never heard the tale of the early bird getting the worm.

Lookin For Love?

Lookin For Love?

Lookin For Love?

Lookin For Love?

He made his morning move, was rejected, and she went on her way.

Teton Bull Moose

Teton Bull Moose

With him following, of course.

Teton Bull Moose

Teton Bull Moose

Even with a long lens, this type of shot gives the photographer pause. You can tell that he has you dead in his sights and this time of year you just never know what his intentions are, at least as far as nosey photographers go. As seen through  a 400mm lens, he is far enough away that I can still easily get behind a nearby tree … hoping that would do some good. Turns out he was just looking to get into the shade where I was standing.

Teton Bull Moose

Teton Bull Moose

There he made a few squawks, circled, made sure the female was in sight, and dropped down to rest, having travelled probably all of a hundred feet so far this morning. This guy was a pretty good sized mature bull that probably has already fought off another bull, or bulls, judging from the way he was limping. Hope this is just the first of several more encounters with these Teton moose.

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August 27, 2016 Estes Park, Colorado

Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park

I arrived at the Saint Mary Lake Campground on Tuesday after an uneventful drive from Twin Lakes, uneventful due to my new ignition wires and plugs. Most likely, I never would have made the long, torturous eight mile haul up the grade to the Eisenhower Tunnel on I-70 if I hadn’t replaced them. This is an expensive (though still less than the other Estes Park campgrounds), private campground laid out like most such campgrounds, rows of sites one after another, way too crowded, way too bright at night, and noisy during the day. Full hookups cost $45/night, making it the most expensive place I have stayed in 4 years, but the location is convenient, and, as I said, the $45 is actually cheaper than the other campgrounds around Estes Park.

RMNP Beast of Burden

RMNP Beast of Burden

There have been no bright, blue sky days since I have arrived so I haven’t been able to get any great mountain shots yet, but I have found a little wildlife during my early morning drives into the park. Despite the fact that school has started and most families are now done with their summer travels, there is still a lot of traffic through the park, way too much actually. I read that last year the park had 4.1 million visitors, more than Yellowstone or Yosemite.

MNP Bull Moose

RMNP Bull Moose

I have run into a couple of bull moose along the way as I climb to the higher elevations in the park.

Mom and Calf

Mom and Calf

Mom and Calf

Mom and Calf

The last time I was here was in the spring, in fact, entrance into the park was closed a couple of days due to a spring snowstorm. During that stay, I found many elk and bighorn sheep around town and along the lower elevations of the park, due to the deep snow in the upper elevations. This year, the animals are still up high and I am not encountering any large numbers of elk and I have yet to see a single sheep.

RMNP Bull Elk

RMNP Bull Elk

RMNP Bull Elk

RMNP Bull Elk

Along the highest point of the park road I spied this guy grazing along the downhill slope, about half a mile from the road. I parked and hiked down to where I could get a shot, carrying my tripod and 600mm lens on my shoulder.

RMNP Bull Elk

RMNP Bull Elk

Forgot that I was at 12,000′ elevation, so when it came time to hike back up the 30 degree slope to get back to the car, I was finding it a little difficult to breathe. Managed to make it, but I think I would prefer finding these guys at a little lower elevation. Guess I’ll have to wish for snow to drive them down the mountain.

RMNP Bull Elk

RMNP Bull Elk

Now this guy was at a little lower elevation, very early in the morning.

RMNP Bull Elk

RMNP Bull Elk

Looking at his left ear, I would have to guess that the bulls may already be sparring, and he must have caught an opponent’s antler, tearing that ear.

American Pika

Pika

Pika

A little background on these little cuties ( from the internet ).

“Pikas (Ochonta princeps) are small mammals related to the rabbit family, even though they look more like a hamster. Pikas are sometimes known as conies or rock rabbits. These cuddly-looking characters have small, oval bodies that are only around six inches long and weigh six ounces. Their ears are moderately large for their bodies and round in shape. Pikas have a very short tail that is usually covered by a coat of thick brown-gray peppered fur. They have sharp curved claws and padded toes to scamper around alpine rocks.

Excellent hearing and vision keep them very aware of danger in their surroundings.   Pikas are very vocal animals and use both calls and songs to communicate with each other and to protect their territories. A high-pitched “eek” warns other pikas of predators. Their voices are easily heard, but the animals, camouflaged against the rocks, are more difficult to see.

American pikas only live in mountainous alpine terrain above 11,000 feet in elevation. They live on rock faces, talus slopes and cliffs near mountain meadows. Pikas live in colonies often connected by burrow mazes underneath these rocky areas. Even so, individuals are very territorial over their own den and surrounding areas, and are usually seen darting around rocky areas alone.

The pika breeding season is in late May or early June while snow is still on the ground in their mountainous habitat. Pika territoriality is at its lowest during this time and males sing to female mates. The female gestation period is 30 days and litters of two to six hairless, blind infants are born. Femals can have a second litter during the same season, and raise their young alone. After one month, the babies leave their mothers to establish their own dens, even though they won’t fully mature for another few months.

Pikas are herbivores and eat a variety of plants including sedges, grasses and wildflowers. After breeding season, pika activity intensifies as they must make the most of a short tundra growing season.

The maximum life span of a pika is three to seven years. Pikas do not hibernate, so they must spend the short alpine summers gathering food for the winter ahead. This frenzied activity consists of gathering large quantities of plants in their mouths and scurrying back to designated storage areas called “haystacks” to let the plants dry. Haymaking is their primary activity, and this is when pikas become extremely territorial and vocal to defend their haystacks.

They can remain active all throughout the day if the outside temperatures stay cool enough. When winter arrives, pikas bring all of their haystacks into their dens and will remain in the burrows most of the winter. One pika must gather enough food to fill a bathtub. Their survival depends on a successful harvest as they remain active underneath the winter snows.

The primary threat for the pika is climate change because as it gets warmer, pikas must go higher up the mountains until they top out and have no where else to go. When temperatures exceed approximately 70 degrees Fahrenheit, pikas can die within hours if they cannot escape from the heat. Pikas are early warning signs for global warming in western North America since they are a species that depends on mountain ecosystems for survival. Go to the National Park Service (NPS) Pikas in Peril website to learn about recent pika research that included Rocky Mountain National Park. Researchers and NPS staff are trying to address questions about pika vulnerability to future climate conditions.”

Pika

Pika

Pika

Pika

Pika

Pika

Pika

Pika

Pika Taking Winter Stores to the Den

Pika Taking Winter Stores to the Den

Pika "haying"

Pika “haying”

I spent about an hour one rather cool morning ( 30 degrees ) at a spot on the park road known as ” the rock cut ” taking shots of several pikas that had dens in the rock fill on the lower side of the road.

Pika "haying"

Pika “haying”

They would race down the talus type rock slope and quickly venture out no more than 20 feet into the grass, chop down a mouthful of grasses and sometimes flowers, then race back up into the rocks to their dens.

Pika Taking Winter Stores to the Den

Pika Taking Winter Stores to the Den

Pika Taking Winter Stores to the Den

Pika Taking Winter Stores to the Den

Pika Taking Winter Stores to the Den

Pika Taking Winter Stores to the Den

After just a few minutes stowing their harvest, they would reappear and repeat the same process, each round trip taking about two or three minutes. They each did this continuously for most of the hour I was with them, only disappearing once for about ten minutes, just after a group of Harley idiots roared up and stopped to use the restrooms across the road from where I was shooting. Now one of my pet peeves are these infantile jerks with their roaring machines scaring off all kinds of wildlife, but I’m not quite sure why they would scare off these little guys. They certainly are not familiar with gun shots from hunters since they live well within the national park, so unlike deer, elk, and moose, that probably do associate the motorcycle racket with gunfire, I don’t know why these little guys are scared off by the motorcycles. But they did eventually come back out and resume their harvesting a while after after the bikes left.

Pika Taking Winter Stores to the Den

Pika Taking Winter Stores to the Den

Pika Taking Winter Stores to the Den

Pika Taking Winter Stores to the Den

Pika Taking Winter Stores to the Den

Pika Taking Winter Stores to the Den

Kind of challenging trying to catch these little guys in motions, they are only 6 or 7 inches long, flying up the rock slope, hopping from rock to rock at top speed. Being preyed on by hawks, as well as coyotes and Long Tailed Weasels, they obviously don’t want to be caught out in the open dilly dallying around.

Pika Taking Winter Stores to the Den

Pika Taking Winter Stores to the Den

Pika Taking Winter Stores to the Den

Pika Taking Winter Stores to the Den

Pika Taking Winter Stores to the Den

Pika Taking Winter Stores to the Den

Pika Taking Winter Stores to the Den

Pika Taking Winter Stores to the Den

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October 6, 2015 Grand Tetons, Wyoming

Mating on his Mind

Mating on his Mind

A Gathering of Moose

The last few days, I have not had to venture far to locate moose as the three or four cows that frequent the Gros Ventre Campground have been attracting several different males. Seems to be somethings in the air.

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

Young Rivals

Young Rivals

Young Rivals

Young Rivals

Young Rivals

Young Rivals

These two young bulls have been hanging around for a couple of days now and every now and then pretend to challenge one another, but the skirmishes are more like just play jousting and they actually spend more time nuzzling up to each other than doing any serious fighting.

Young Rivals

Young Rivals

The images above the one above were taken very early in the morning and this one later in the afternoon where they were still more into nuzzling than fighting.

Young Bull and Cow

Young Bull and Cow

Another bull makes an entrance but this cow wasn’t very interested and eventually actually chased him off.

Bull Moose

Bull Moose

Bull Moose

Bull Moose

Bull Moose

Bull Moose

Yet another bull makes the trek up to the campground.

Bull Moose Challenge Posture

Bull Moose Challenge Posture

Bull Moose Challenge Posture

Bull Moose Challenge Posture

When you see a bull making direct eye contact with you, and then they start doing this exaggerated rocking stiff legged strut, it means it might be a good idea to find a tree or your car to hide behind. This guy stopped as soon as I backed off and got into some nearby trees. I wasn’t actually all that close to him, these images were taken with a 600mm lens, but still better to be safe than sorry.

Missing a Paddle

Missing a Paddle

And then this guy showed up! Without a doubt, the largest bull seen so far. Really would have liked to see the bull that broke this guy’s left paddle off, because this guy was huge.

Bull Moose

Bull Moose

Moved to the Sidelines

Moved to the Sidelines

When the big guy appeared on the scene, the young bulls that had been accompanying the cows quickly retreated and spent their time grazing in the shade, never even considered challenging the big bull, just quietly moved to the sidelines.

Amorous Intentions

Amorous Intentions

Mating on his Mind

Mating on his Mind

Kind of obvious what he has on his mind.

Yet Another Blue Sky Day

Grand Tetons Panorama

Grand Tetons Panorama

The image above is made up of five photos stitched together in PS. I liked the low hanging clouds/fog lifting off from the Snake River.

Mormon Row Homestead

Mormon Row Homestead

Mormon Row Homestead

Mormon Row Homestead

Later in the afternoon some threatening skies were moving down from the north, giving some nice lighting conditions for this homestead on Mormon Row.

Pronghorns Too

Pronghorn Buck

Pronghorn Buck

Every morning as I travel across to Mormon Row from the campground, I manage to see several pronghorns grazing in the area. Today they finally were close enough to get some decent shots.

Checking on is Ladies

Checking on is Ladies

Pronghorns

Pronghorns

This buck was doing his due diligence, checking to see if any of his harem were ready for him.

Pronghorns at Dawn

Pronghorns at Dawn

Young Pronghorn

Young Pronghorn

This young pronghorn was grazing along the entry road to the campground as I headed out in the morning.

Pronghorn Buck

Pronghorn Buck

There is no shortage of pronghorns everywhere around the park this year.

Final Thoughts on the Gros Ventre Campground

Gros Ventre Campsite

Gros Ventre Campsite

When I arrived here this year the campground was all but full and I had the misfortune of being parked next to a few inconsiderate campers. One of the volunteers told me that the campground was full for 33 days this year and nearly full on many other nights. Gros Ventre has always been a place you could pretty much not have to worry about getting in to … but  ( like Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone ) not any more, I guess.

It is a very large campground spread out over several different loops, one of which does have sites with utilities. I have never stayed in that loop. All sites are back in and most are a little short for a big rig. Most sites are also in the cottonwoods, though I asked for and got a site that was in the open so I could utilize my solar and get satellite reception. The primitive sites go for $24 a night, half that with a seniors pass. This campground grew on me as my stay went on, the sites are fairly well spaced and there are no lights, so you can really appreciate the night skies, unless you have an inconsiderate neighbor that decides to leave his spotlights on.

And as the crowds thinned and the moose replaced the departing campers, this place really became quite enjoyable.

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