Departure day and what do I see when I looked out the back window of the trailer at 0630 but a moose cow and calf next to the pond in addition to two of the beavers working. I grabbed the camera and went out, staying well back from the water. She spotted me and was leery, disappearing into the bushes quickly. She eventually came into sight as she left the area.
This was such a wonderful place I returned to it after leaving Denali. A lot of time has been spent observing the residents. This Northern Harrier has a female chick who has fledged. Four times I’ve seen the adult fly around with something in its talons and heard calling between her and the chick. Then the chick would fly up and catch the food in mid air as the adult dropped it. I’ve seen and photographed falcons doing this (2016 OR coast) but didn’t know hawks would do it. I was never able to capture the action, not surprising since the adult’s territory covers a large area and they are usually high up and away when it happens. Binoculars made seeing it possible.
The beavers have been industrious as usual, but they don’t keep regular hours, I have to watch for them. One afternoon I was able to capture one eating off a branch it cut down and dragged into the water. Every once in a while it would stop to either scratch or groom. Great fun to watch and every time I look at this image I grin.
Did manage to see a cow moose relatively close and as she was moving away I realized she had a calf with her, but it was even further away.
My last 5 nights in Denali NP were spent at Teklanika cg, 29 miles into the park. Once at the campground you are not permitted to drive around until you leave. In order to travel I purchased a pass, called a TEK pass, that enabled me to hop on any shuttle and go as far as the Eielson Visitor Center which is a 6 hour round trip. That was as long as I wanted to be away from the dogs and provided many photography opportunities. The bus drivers would stop for wildlife viewing whenever possible so it worked out very nicely.
I got to see many grizzly bears, some were simply too far away that while I took photos I won’t upload them. Others are closer to the road and were great subjects.
I did include a couple of images of a sow and her 2 cubs laying out in the grass enjoying a sun bath simply because they looked so utterly relaxed.
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Denali National Park has spectacular scenery and a variety of wildlife. After spending 6 nights at Riley campground at the entrance to the park I moved inside the park 30 miles to Teklanika campground. Wow! I’m so glad I did. Once at Tek you are not permitted to drive your vehicle anywhere, you must make use of the shuttle buses by purchasing a TEK pass. The pass allows you to get on any bus headed further into the park, distance determined when you purchase the pass. I got a pass that would get me to the Eielson VC, at about mm 66 or so. This was plenty distance for me and it meant a round trip of 6 hours. About the max I’d be comfortable leaving the dogs in the trailer. I used the pass each of the 4 days I was at the campground and it paid off.
There were plenty of Caribou, from the cows and calves to some bulls. Dahl sheep were high up on the mountains, tiny white specks when viewed with your eyes.
After a rather long stop in Fairbanks, staying at Chena Lakes Rec. Area except for 2 nights at Walmart I went down the Parks Hwy. to the Anderson Riverside campground. We were literally on the riverside and it was a nice change from Fairbanks. This is the Zenana River. I stayed there 3 nights, several friends with Casitas joined me and left before I did.
Next stop is just south of Cantwell. As I was heading south to one of the state parks that claim views of Denali I passed a huge gravel turnout next to a river. That looked very good to me so I turned around and headed back to it. What a great spot! I can look out the rear window of the trailer to a
beaver dam and mountains. Mountains on all sides, really, but I also have very fast cell signal so I can stay in touch with folks, etc. Good area for walking the dogs and playing fetch with Concho.
I’ve been spending time watching the beavers when they come around to work on the dam. Yesterday morning there were two of them. This morning only one. They travel upstream when they leave so they may have a lodge or another dam up there.
This morning was a really good one. Not long after the beaver left I saw something coming upstream from below the dam, by the the time I got back to the camera (on tripod) I realized it was an otter. It saw me and went under and continued upstream. Oh well, this is an ideal area for otters, too, so I’ll pay more attention.
Went back to the trailer for a bit and noticed something pass by the side window then Concho started looking out the rear window and growling. Had to check it out and it was a fox! I grabbed the camera and got a few shots off through the window. It moved up in front of the truck so I stepped out and stayed by the trailer to get some more images. The fox seemed a bit curious about me and didn’t immediately run off so I was able to get several images. What a thrill. It was so dark I looked it up online. Turns out the Red Fox in AK can have several coat colors including a very dark one called Cross Fox. Its head is extremely dark and this one has a beautiful coat, a bit wet after crossing some water, though.
My route north from Yellowstone had to go through Bozeman this time meaning I would be taking some new roads. What an amazing state Montana is! I passed through many miles of wheat fields and pastures, not much traffic but what country to see.
After that it was on to Dawson Creek and the Alaskan Highway. I stopped one night at a long rest area next to Muncho Lake. It was sunny then rained, then sunny and an rain again. Met some other folks traveling to AK, including one couple from France who had their small RV shipped to the souther tip of South America. They have been traveling from there north with a year and 4 months allotted for the travel. What an adventure! When I left that spot the next morning I saw a caribou, some woods bison, stone sheep, and assorted small bears, no grizzlies. When on the road even though I am always on the lookout it is very hard to stop to photograph the wildlife.
This trip I stayed in free spots(except at the ice fields), mostly larger rest areas with other travelers. The last night before I got to the Fairbanks area I had a rest area to myself, sort of. Around 9 pm I happened to look out the window facing the woods and saw a snowshoe hare….then I saw another one. The windows were really dirty so photographs were pointless. When they seemed to leave I went out and cleaned the windows. Then I checked again, they were back with their buddies. The day had been totally bereft of wildlife until then so I had some fun photographing the hares. They’re now in their summer coats, thought their feet are still white. I don’t know if they stay white or are just the last part to change color. Anyhow it was fun and of course the next morning when I walked the dogs they smelled the critters all over the place.
The route I regularly take to Yellowstone means passing through the Tetons, this trip was no exception. Looks like they had a good winter and the later snow added to the cover.
Mammoth Hot Springs cg is good place to use as a base for visiting Lamar Valley. The Bison calves are old enough to be easily seen, they’re often called “red dogs” at this stage. I was surprised to see the Pronghorn Antelope so frequently. In the past they have seemed pretty skittish but not this year. Of course there were some bears out, but they were generally so far away a spotting scope was needed. I did see sow with 2 cubs,and took a few images,but they are greatly cropped.
There were quite a few elk cows around but it did’t look like they had started calving yet. Back in the campground one elk cow has been chasing people around. Turns out she has good reason to be concerned, she has a very new little wobbly calf. She was very near my trailer when I took a series of images yesterday. She’s moved to the far end of the campground but i’m always on the lookout inn case she comes back this way.
After seeing some bears but too far away to photograph decently i decided to invest in a good spotting scope. I figure even if I can’t photograph the critters I’ll be able to watch them, something I really enjoy. Once I settled in the one I wanted I found for a little more I could get an attachment to take photos with my iPhone. Mind you nothing has arrived yet and there will be a learning curve. The photos I get, if any, will be fun ones, not serious stuff. It should be interesting as the trip progresses.