There are days in Yellowstone when the wildlife action is so phenomenal that even if you go away without one great images due to low light or distance, you have a big smile on your face. Today was one of those days to be sure, even though the action was done and over with before 9 a.m.
Ever since the most recent bison fell into Blacktail Ponds and drowned and there was a report of grizzly and wolves the following morning, I have been stopping by to check on the action, not expecting anything in daylight. Except maybe some coyotes like the trio above.
Mostly I have been disappointed to find nothing at the carcass but there have been some mornings when the bear could be heard crunching bones and splashing water through the darkness. And, his big body moving off in the shadows of morning. Carcasses in the pond, while the death of the bison is horrific, is one of the best opportunities to view wildlife close up. The rangers leave the carcass and allow us to be in the pullout or on the road, despite short distances at times, like this one. And so we hope for a miracle of a bear or wolf that isn’t too shy.
In this case, the bear drug the carcass out of the water, eventually and after feasting on most of it, to a greater distance from us. Smart bear. This morning found the carcass moved even further out and the bear leaving just as I arrived. But, then, someone said that the wolves were eating! Yes! The moment I had been waiting for.
Funny, that I often don’t get a lot of luck but did have the good fortune to get the perfect parking spot this morning that allowed me to rest the camera on the bean bag, while sitting in my car. The bean bag absorbs the motion, which is important when there is no light and I have to use a slow shutter speed.
But, dark is dark!
We started out with 4 wolves on the carcass but as it got lighter the wolves began to move off, one by one. Until just one remained – Twin. I would have guessed that Twin would be the one to not be terribly shy but would have liked to have gotten better, daylight looks at the other wolves. One was nearly white while the other two had identical and very strange markings on their back. And, just gorgeous coloring. Very unique and I can’t help but wonder where they came from. One looked to be 965 and the other a pup. But I can’t swear to that.
Some shots of Twin
Twin stayed on the carcass until the light finally began to hit the ground, and then he walked off to greet a black pup that had been waiting for him.
At the pond the geese began chasing each other around. I think this is goose love.
During the course of the morning we had the most wonderful howl. So close and so loud – it was amazing. The sound guy for the Travel Channel most likely got his best nature sound ever. I recorded it as well and can’t wait to find a piece of old video to set it to.
I then left and went east, after hearing that the Junction Buttes were being seen again. Guess that didn’t last long – there are 4 bison carcasses north of Junction Butte and that is what the wolves are feeding on.
But, I found this ram. Just when I think no more big horn shots, I find one posed just right.
The Lamars were somewhere north of the ranch, though they seemed to be scattered here and there. No sign yet of a carcass but am hoping one happens soon. Those pups are needing to eat something fierce. One was seen, going right past the crew when they did not expect it at all, chasing a coyote. Apparently, 967 did make his way to the pack.
I went for a wonderful hike up on Specimen Ridge. Must say though that between the bear danger, the mud, snow and ice, that one needs to be very careful, which I was. Coming down on ice and slick mud is not fun. Glad that I had the trekking pole!
Nothing around the pond this evening when I went by but who knows what happened after I left. Last night the bear came down right after I went away.