We left the wolves to their meal of
bison meat and headed back to Gardiner. But we made one last stop to
photograph this bighorn sheep resting by a parking lot. (Are they
trained or what?) Again, he was completely accustomed to paparazzi
photographers and was actually nodding off until he heard another animal
noise. That woke him up enough for an alert expression. A perfect shot
to end a great day.
Like the coyotes we saw on our way
out, these wolves were a long ways from the road, probably a mile or
more distant. I was using a very long lens (960mm equivalent) and still
cropped the photos you see here.
This mated pair, one black and one silver,are
the ones who ran off the coyotes. They spent a lot of time playing with
sticks and each other on their way back. So our guide MacNeil Lyons said they were a young couple.
We turned around to head back to
Gardiner after Soda Butte Creek. Along the way, one of the photographers
spotted movement out across the valley. It was the coyotes
alarm-barking because wolves had entered the area. Wolves and coyotes
are not friends, as you can tell by the posture of the (smaller) coyote
in the back. Soon a pair of wolves chased the coyotes for at least a
quarter mile. Both carnivores were interested in the dead bison further
west from this location.
We left the coyotes to their own devices and headed further east and higher up to find snow. Eventually we did along Soda Butte Creek. The snow that stays on the tops of the rocks in the water looks like soft (if cold) pillows. Finally we found some winter!
Our guide said these were bull moose who had dropped their antlers. Normally, moose are solitary but these guys decided to soak up some winter sun together. They were a very long way from the parking lot on the opposite side of the road from the bison.
This guy was separated from the group in the previous post and on the opposite side of the road. Since he was actively grazing, I decided to focus on him. He soon decided to rejoin the group and moved on to the road for easy travel. I got several frames with a 500mm lens before I decided he was too close to me and packed up my tripod and headed for the bus!(Don't be this close if all you have is a cell phone camera!)
These bison were up on a ridge, again conveniently across the road from a large parking area. They paid more attention to us than the elk did but were more concerned with grazing. Despite the lack of snow in this scene, this stop was one of the coldest of the day.
Last February I joined a group from F11 Photo of Bozeman, Montana, for a guided day trip through the Lamar Valley of Yellowstone National Park. It was my first visit since I traveled there with my family as a child. While there was not much snow, we did see lots of wildlife.
This view greeted me at the mouth of Paradise Valley, which leads to the north entrance to the park, on the evening before the trip.
Rob Sheppard just posted an article on his blog that both describes how most photography contest entries are judged and expresses his opinion of the purpose of such contests for people wishing to improve their pictures. I highly recommend this post.