One evening I went down the road to the riverbank to see is anything was going on. There were lots of folks watching something so I stopped and took the camera with me to catch any action. What action! The bull Custer had found the cow with twins and was intent on pursuing her. She didn’t want any part of him and so the chase was on. They started out in a thick cover of willows and came out running. They moved downstream in and out of the water. The calves followed mom as best they could. At one point the bull was chasing after the calves a bit but that wasn’t his main objective. It was fascinating to watch, totally futile on his part though since with calves that young she would not be breeding this season. Eventually she moved off into the woods on the far side of the river. He followed but much more slowly.
Mornings here can be pretty nippy, down in the mid teens in fact. A few days after that evening’s drama I was up at 0600 and out at 0700 to see if I could find yet another bull I’d heard about. Sure enough he was where I was told, along with three cows. This bull is massive with an impressive rack. Of course I wasn’t alone, there were quite a few photographers and spectators there. As we watched him and the cows we realized another bull was coming…… oh boy. The second bull moved in from the west, staying in the low area where one of the cows was while the first bull stayed on the upper area (same level as us). He waited for the second bull to approach him, knowing he had the advantage of higher ground. There was no dramatic charging or clashing but bull #1 was definitely the winner is the contest. Bull #2 moseyed away in search of easier pickings. At least one of these bulls has a name, too, but I down’t know it yet.
Getting really good images is always satisfying, but I truly enjoy watching the animals interact. There’s always something to be learned from observing them.
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Friday May 26 I was up bright and early to drive from Mammoth Hot Springs campground down to Canyon Village campground. That was the day it opened for the season and I had no idea if there would be a long line of folks waiting or not. I had to take the road on the west side of the park down to Norris then across to Canyon. It snowed a bit and I encountered a group of Bison with some calves making their way along the road. Eventually I got to the campground and was surprised to find I was one of the first to arrive and check in. Good thing they weren’t facing a rush of folks because their computers were not working right. The campground had obviously been plowed out and there were great piles of snow everywhere. When I first pulled in it was like backing the trailer into an icebox. As the days warmed up a bit the snow started to melt. I was assigned a nice site with good exposure for the solar panels which I set up promptly. This year I was pleased to see a few other trailers also had solar panels of one sort or another. It was extremely cold and snowed off and on the first couple of days I was there and I was amazed at the number of tenters. So glad I had the trailer even though the furnace was not working consistently.
There were some Bison in Hayden Valley, along with lots of Elk. I stayed at Canyon for 9 nights and didn’t see any Elk calves until late in my stay. The Bison were often close to the road but the Elk tended to stay on the other side of the Yellowstone River, a long ways away, even with the telephoto lens I have.
One afternoon while hanging around at a pullout I saw a black Wolf. It it was by itself, sort of chasing some Elk. I lost sight of it quickly and moved to another pullout later on. Lo & behold I saw movement and realized it was the Wolf, directly across the river from me. Managed to get a few shots of it, what you see here are greatly cropped.
Late one day as I was headed back to the trailer I came up to what was a growing “bear jam”. There was a pullout with no cars in it so I swung in and grabbed my camera. Just had time to catch it as it ran across the road and across a small open area into the woods.
Bison do swim, not going to win any awards but they can get from one side of the river to the other, with some drifting in the current.
One afternoon I was surprised and dismayed to see some obviously foreign visitors using a drone. Drones are not allowed in the park and it is stated plainly in various info sheets handed out. These people, along with the make and registration of their vehicle,were reported to the Rangers. I really hope they were caught and that the drone was confiscated.
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Bison licking my truck, taken through the windshield.
What would Yellowstone be without bison? And how many folks have a bison get as up close and personal as this? This one was causing a jam, had many cars stopped as it stood in the road. Finally it moved so some cars could pass by moving in front of my truck. As I sat there it moved closer and closer and then started licking the truck….. After a few licks he moved to the passenger side, gave a lick or two then moseyed off onto the grass. Needless to say I was dumbfounded and the folks in the approaching lane were cracking up, getting quite a laugh from it all. I think this was a yearling, guessing by its size.
Bison calves (red dogs) playing
The calves sleep, eat, play and follow along where their mothers go.
The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone is impressive in its own way.
Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, looking west to the waterfall
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