Mark and I spent nine days in Yellowstone National Park Our goal was to learn how to take good photos of wildlife in preparation for our trip to Africa. We started our Yellowstone adventure with a three-day photography class and then stayed to practice our new skills.
May 15, 2014
We had a wonderful day today. Enroute to Yellowstone, we had our first chance to take a photo of an owl on top of a power pole, outside of Dubois, Wyoming. Mark turned the car around and got us in position. He grabbed a camera, got out, and took a couple of photos. He got back in the car and handed the camera over to me. I magnified his photos and discovered that the owl had a loop on top of its head. It was plastic! No wonder it sat so still. Ha! We’re obviously rookies. We got a good laugh from it.
We stopped to take a photo of Mt. Moran from the Oxbow on the Snake River in Grand Teton National Park. It was a beautiful sight. We also saw some American white Pelicans and a couple of bald eagles! We headed on and entered Yellowstone National Park at the south entrance, where we proudly produced our Annual Park Pass. It cost $80, but if we didn’t have it we would be paying $30 per day. We were going to get our money’s worth from it. It was a beautiful day; sunny and 39 degrees when we started out, and eventually warmed up to 55 degrees. The snow was ten feet deep in places, but there was none in others. We stopped and took a photo of Lewis Falls. Next, we headed to West Thumb Geyser basin, and saw some Barrow’s goldeneye ducks near the fishing cone (In 1870, men would stand on it, catch a fish and cook it before they took it off the hook) We headed over to Hayden Valley and the crowd was excited as they said they were looking at a wolf! It was wandering around the Yellowstone River, ignoring the great blue herons. Perhaps, they weren’t bothered because of being able to fly at a moment’s notice? Or maybe the wolf, just wasn’t hungry (Later, our photographer guide, Dale, looked at our photos, and told us that we had seen a coyote, not a wolf! Ha! Never underestimate the ability of the crowd to influence the rest. It was a good lesson. Then, he told us that once he had overheard some tourists talking about baby grizzlies. When he looked where they were looking, he realized that they were actually looking at yellow-bellied marmots!) We saw a rookery of great blue herons in some trees across the Yellowstone River. Every few minutes, a heron took flight and would do a loop before settling down in the trees filled with nests. It gave us a chance to practice taking photos of the takeoffs and landings. Then we saw our first herd of bison. They were so majestic. We headed over to Swan Lake Flats, between Norris and Mammoth Hot Springs around 5 pm and were lucky enough to see a grizzly sow with three cubs. They were far away but were getting closer and walking towards the crowd of spectators that had started showing up. The grizzly family crossed over the road and kept walking the hillside. We took a lot of photos. What an amazing opportunity. We headed onto Mammoth Hot Springs before we headed over to Gardiner, MT, where we saw a lot of elk and bison. We checked into the Super 8 Hotel and went to dinner at The Raven. I had a bison pappardelle with garlic bread and Mark had a rib eye…delicious. Our guide, Dale Franz, met us and we discussed our camera skills. He was familiar with the grizzly we had seen and said she was known as Quad Mom, as she had been known to have four cubs before. This year, she only has three, but the name Quad Mom still sticks. Later in the year, we were told that there was more news about Quad Mom that happened during the summer of 2014. To preface the story, it helps to know that male bears (called boars) will kill cubs, not to eat, but so that the mama bears (called sows) will come back into estrus so that they can mate with her to produce their own offspring. The story I was told was that a photographer had witnessed an attack on Quad Mom’s cubs. One was killed, but Quad Mom was able to grab one cub and throw it on her back and escape with the other by her side. I’m so glad we were lucky enough to get photos of the three cubs on this trip. ~ Mary & Mark
Siting list: 4 Grizzlies, coyote, Barrow’s Goldeneye Ducks, Bald Eagles, pelican
Click on photo below for easier viewing