A Grizzly Called Snow & The Bison

Even though I had only one day to visit Yellowstone during this years Spring trip, I hoped to see Raspberry and Snow. Snow is Rasberry’s four year old cub. I’ve been photographing them over the past four years.

Last spring, Raspberry left Snow. It was time for her to be on her own. This past winter, Snow would have hibrinated by herself. I was anxious to see how well she had fared through the winter by herself. With so little time, I knew my chances were not very good to find them but I was not going to let that stop me from trying.

I left Jackson two hours before sunrise to get to the area where I had seen them in the past. I wanted to be there as the sun was coming up. It’s when the light is normally the best. It had been raining and snowing but there was suppose to be a break in the weather so I was hoping for good light and a lot of luck.

As I approached the area, I saw a small group of people with a park ranger parked on the side of the road. I stopped. The photo below is what I saw.

It was Snow! She was on the other side of the road up on the hill sleeping. How Lucky! I got my camera gear out and waited. Several minutes later she got up and started to feed on grass. As she grazed, she slowly worked her way down the hill towards us.

On our side of the road, about 65 yards away, was a big bull bison. As you can see, he seems content on grazzing.

Well, Snow kept coming down towards the road.

Then, she noticed the bison. At about the same time, the bison noticed her. He was not too happy. Notice, how his tail is up. That’s a sign that it’s not happy and may charge.

Snow is a four year old sub-adult and not quite ready to take on a full sized bull bison. However, she kept watching it.

There seem to be a standoff. All of a sudden, the bison made a move as if to charge. Snow quickly ran up the hill. It was a fake charge. I didn’t get any shots of that encounter. Not knowing where he was going, I moved quickly away. I believe no photograph is worth jepordizing the safety of the animals or the photographer. It’s always best to do the right and safe thing.

Snow didn’t run very far up the hill. She sat down and looked down the hill as if she was assessing her options. It looked like she was really wanted to go across the road.

The bison had moved very close to the road towards her but stayed on the far side. Suddenly, a large dump truck came up the road towards it. As the truck approached, the driver honked his horn. It was very loud which frightened the bison. The bison ran away from the road and stopped just a little way down the hill close to where it had been previously grazzing .

Snow seemed intent on crossing the road. She continued to move close to the road but kept her distance from the bison. After a while, she did cross it with no interference from the bison.

She found a little grass to her liking. Perhaps, the grass is greener on the other side of the road.

The bison still didn’t seem to like her there but did nothing more than snort and watch her for a while. Notice, his tail is still up.

Eventually, he settled down and moved off. Snow seem to be looking for a place to rest.

She found a spot to her liking and seemed content. Every now and then, she would look up to survey the area.

I have a lot of photos of animals sticking their tongues out… don’t know why…

A little while later, she got up and wondered around a bit. The next three pictures were taken during that time. They are my favorites from this encounter.

Shortly after taking this photo of her, I left. It was time to head back to the Gros Ventre River to look for Mother Moose and her calf.

I thought you’d like to see a close up of Snow. Below are a couple of cropped photos. I think she’s simply a beautiful Grizzly.

I didn’t see Raspberry during my short visit. I had been told by some locals that even though she had been seen mating last year, she didn’t have cubs this year. Perhaps she will next year.

I know this is a long post but I hope you’ve enjoyed this adventure and seeing Snow as much as I have.

Thanks for stopping by.

Bill

Mom Moose & Her Calf

I had seen her late afternoon the day before this photo was taken. She was a long distance away, too far to get a decent photo of her. However, as I watched through my binoculars, I thought she looked a bit stressed.

They normaly have their calves this time of the year so I thought this might be the day. It was late and the sun was going down so I left with the thought that even though I was going to Yellowstone the next day I’d be back late afternoon to look for her.

Well, after searching for about a half hour, I found her laying as you see her above. But, look at who else showed up!

It must have been just a few hours old. It would try to stand then fall. In a short time, it was standing on wobbly legs.

After a while, it was looking for nourishment. It nursed several times while trying to figure out how to work those legs. The image below is the one I like best.

It was getting late and the light was starting to fade so, soon after this shot, I left for the night. I hoped to see them in better light the next day.

The next morning, I searched for them for more than an hour. They had been across the Gros Ventre river but I just couldn’t spot them in the same area. I went up and down, back and forth along a half mile stretch of the river with no luck. I said to myself, they must have left but I’d try one more time. That’s when I saw an ear twitch. They were bedded down. I got my camera gear and just waited and watched.

A lot of people saw I had my camera gear. They’d stop and ask what I was photographing. I told them I was waiting for a bedded down moose to get up. Very few stayed. Many people just don’t have the patience.

Well, my patience really payed off!

Look who started to explore its world, on somewhat more steady legs.

Of course, mom was always close by. By the way, she looks so shabby because she’s starting to loose her thick winter coat. In a few weeks, she’ll look just fine.

After a while, the little one decided to explore close to the river. The current was very strong. I was concerned. Should it fell in, the current might carry it away.

This may be its first drink of water. It didn’t fall in and all was well for a while. I stayed for about an hour happily taking photos when I would spot them clear of the brush. Then the little one decided to explore towards the river again. And, OH NO!

Don’t go in!

It was heartbreaking to watch as it struggled.

But it finially got a foothold……

And made it out!

Everyone seems relieved now…. Whew!

Time to leave the river. Of course, I was relieved that it all turned out well but it goes to show that even a day old moose is a very tough critter.

I didn’t get to see them after this because the next day I was on my way to Idaho with hopes to see and photograph a golden eagle.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this adventure as much as I.

Thanks for stopping by!

Bill

Shawnee Mission Park Early Christmas Morning

It has been tradition for me to walk through Shawnee Mission Park early Christmas Morning. My wife works Christmas day so I head there for some solitude and to be alone with my thoughts and always with the hope of photographing some critters too.

I started my walk before sun-up and was conserned because there was no wind. The racket I was making walking through the leaves could surely be heard a mile away.

My consern seem to be justified when I saw two differnt sets of three deer running way in front of me. Not only were they too far away to photograph but there just wasn’t enough light either. I kept trugging along without seeing a thing, even the birds seem to be evading me. After about a half hour or more, I finally saw this guy in the distance. I slowly moved closer and got this shot.

If you look closely, you’ll see it has already lost one antler. At first, I thought he was alone but suddenly this other one poped his head up right behind him.

As you can see, he is a little bigger and still has both his antlers. Then, this little guy comes running into the picture.

How cool is that? Three bucks hanging out together. These photos are cropped a bit because I couldn’t get too close. They were very jittery and kept moving away. However a short time later, I was able to get a decent shot of the bigger guy.

I always like it when I get to see a mom with her yearling fawn too.

My luck continued to improve as I finially was able to get some shots of a couple of birds in halfway decent light.

I saw a few hawks in the distance but they were too far to get decent shots. As I was about to leave, I saw this one. Now. I normally don’t like to take photos of birds on wires, fences or street lights but I just couldn’t resist. It just looked too cool!

Here’s a close-up, cropped version of the same Red-tailed hawk.

While it’s all puffed out like it must be cold, it really wasn’t cold at all. I would have prefered it to be about 20 degrees colder with snow but hey, sometimes, you just have to enjoy the moment. I know I did anyway.

Well that was my Christmas morning. I hope yours was as good as mine.

Merry Christmas and thanks for stopping by.

Bill