Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Yellowstone 2012

  I returned this year to Yellowstone two weeks later than in 2011.  What a change two weeks made; it was warmer and dryer and more crowded than last year.  Most of the snow was gone except for the peak of the mountains.  It appeared as fewer animals were around; perhaps due to the heavy traffic and the tourists chasing them to get a closer image.  Coyotes are used to people that they just wonder around as if they own the place.  One crossed the Yellow River Bridge; why go up and down a ravine and get wet when men built this structure?

One of the reasons for returning was to go to Trout Lake to photograph the spawning of the cutthroat trout. Last year when I visited it was too early, but this time, I got there on time. It takes a stiff walk up a hill to get to the lake, but once there it was worth it. There is a stream coming from the mountains that enters the lake at the northwest corner; this stream is crossed by a wooden bridge. You can see hundreds of trout going up the stream after laying the eggs are laid in the gravel bottom at the entrance of the stream to the lake. The male trout hit the sides of the females making their eggs to be released at which time; the male spreads them with clouds of sperm to fertilize them. This is easier to observe than photograph.

To kill the time between the unpredictable otters appearances, I would spent time photographing the goldeneyes that at the time were doing their pairing dances and looking for hole in trees to set households.  Early in the morning they will do their rituals dances and flights that were finished usually by 0830.  At that time 2 or 3 pairs will fly to the top of a hollow dead tree in the side of the mountain.  By the third day, when I realized what was going on, I climbed the side of the mountain and set the camera with a tripod about the same height as the top of the tree about 30 feet away and was able to capture a few images of their landings. 

There was a Lincoln's sparrow that every morning like clockwork, will land in the same bush, perch there and sing to his heart contents.  It was a male just announcing to others where his territory was and hoping to attract a girlfriend.  I never saw another sparrow in the vicinity the time I was there…hope that he finally found a mate by now.

Since sunset arrive late @ 2100, after returning to the car from the lake, I will drive up and down the Lamar Valley road in the hope of taking a shot of a wolf crossing the road; no luck here but I was able to photograph the ever present buffaloes, coyotes, pronghorn gazelles and elks.

 Saw brown bears about 4 times but these are difficult to photograph because once it is seen, the crowd arrives followed by the park rangers that makes almost impossible to get a good shot.  Fortunately the last night in the way to the hotel, a young male cinnamon bear was walking o the meadow close to the road and finally I got a decent image.

 A few miles the road at the entrance to the town of Silvergate,  I ran into a fox family.  The animals fur did not look good (notice lack of hair between the tail and the rump); it is suffering from sarcoptic mange is caused the mite Sarcoptes scabiei, it burrows into the skin into which it deposits eggs, feces and other waste. This disease may eventually kill the fox when winter comes because the animal will not have enoughfur to protect it from the winter cold.
The day I arrived at Yellowstone about noon, I witnessed a strange interaction between a badger and a coyote.  It appears that the badger was chasing the coyote away from the proximity of it den.   While this behavior was going, the coyote will catch a ground squirrel and stop to eat it, the badger will also do the same.  And the chase stopped for the few minutes that it took to swallow the prey.  The interaction ended near a buffalo at which time the two predators parted ways.
Who knows what next year will bring, maybe I will get the elusive wolves.  Stay tuned.


Anonymous said...

excelente reporte como siempre José.Que interesante resulta ver lo importante que es ariibar a hacer fotos a un lugar en el momento adecuado, aunque mas no sean una o dos semanas de diferencia :)
me gusta mucho la última serir de fotos ...los fondos y el detalle que lograste es excelente
me quedo esperando el próximo reporte de Alaska :)
un abrazo
El profe Mariano

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

That sounds like a familiar story Jose. Many years ago I used to see wilddogs almost on a daily basis. Then some fool decided to have a competition for identification purposes and because of the crowding, the dogs disappeared and are now seldom seen. What a pity things like this spoil it for everyone!!

What a wonderful experience to see the fish spawning like that. I guess I would get lost in the wonder of what I am seeing and forget to take pictures. :)

That is a wonderful selection of animals you saw and nice to witness the behavour between the badger and coyote.

All in all seems like you had a wonderful trip Jose. Loved the post as always.

Ken Conger Photography said...

Nice diversity of quality images as always. The arriving goldeneye is my fav! Blue Skies.

Mary said...

Loved seeing your Yellowstone pictures. My family was there this year during the second week of June and enjoyed the abundant wildlife.