Bridger Peaks Photography: Blog http://www.bridgerpeaks.photos/blog en-us (C) Bridger Peaks Photography bridgerpeaksphotography@earthlink.net (Bridger Peaks Photography) Mon, 27 Jan 2014 15:53:00 GMT Mon, 27 Jan 2014 15:53:00 GMT http://www.bridgerpeaks.photos/img/s/v-5/u5172643-o1049480387-50.jpg Bridger Peaks Photography: Blog http://www.bridgerpeaks.photos/blog 96 120 Remember Yellowstone Gray Wolf, 832F aka '06 http://www.bridgerpeaks.photos/blog/2013/12/remember-yellowstone-gray-wolf-832f-aka-06

 

My 60 second Tribute to 06', born in 2006, killed December 06, 2012 will run 6 days past the 6th, then it will be retired and will reappear every year to remind all of us of this senseless, totally senseless killing of this young lady. View my 60 second tribute here at www.galloimagesonline.com
 
"One Year Ago Today", December 6, 2012....
 
The World lost a "Rock Star", an extraordinary Yellowstone gray wolf, known as 832F aka "06" due to hatred. Plain and simple. One year ago today, I was sitting in a hotel room (as I am now) on my computer when Facebook and other news outlets broke the news, "Yellowstone's most famous wolf, viewed  and loved by millions" killed, shot by hunter"... I said aloud, "Oh No..." I wanted this not to be true. Why? What did she do to this hunter?  Nothing, of course just hatred for wolves. She happen to be gray wolf in the sights of a gun scope hundreds of yards away. She was totally innocent. When I read the news, I will admit, I teared up (as I am now). 
 
Since I currently live in Ohio, I visit Yellowstone 1-2 times/year. I knew of '06", I have heard the stories of '06', I have seen '06' afar but my closest 06' encounter was on October 4, 2011 in which I spent several hours watching and photographing her and her pack on an elk carcass in Yellowstone's Lamar Valley. She was just not "any old wolf" or "just a wolf", this girl had stamina, charisma, love for family, strength (she could take an elk down BY HERSELF, very few wolves would attempt this (but she would and did to feed her family). 06' was one of nature's extraordinary stories. Perhaps we won't see the likes of another '06 for years, if ever.  
 
She was viewed and loved by millions of YNP visitors from all over the world. 06' is a symbol of excellence in nature and she will never be forgotten, certainly not by me or my wife, Kim. That day, October 4, 2011 was special for us and I am glad we were there in the right place at the right time.  Mark 12/6/2013
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bridgerpeaksphotography@earthlink.net (Bridger Peaks Photography) 06 832F gray wolf yellowstone http://www.bridgerpeaks.photos/blog/2013/12/remember-yellowstone-gray-wolf-832f-aka-06 Fri, 06 Dec 2013 15:01:32 GMT
2013 MPEG YNP/GTNP Groupshoot - Day 7 : June 8, 2013 (FINAL BLOG POST) http://www.bridgerpeaks.photos/blog/2013/6/2013-mpeg-ynp/gtnp-groupshoot---day-7-june-8-2013-final-blog-post Lamar Canyon Pack Wolf MPEG GTNPYNP Groupshoot June 2013

 

This Groupshoot was a howling success! 

The highlight of our day was a close encounter with "Middle Grey", the mother of this year's Lamar Canyon pack wolf pups. More on that later.

Today, June 8 was the last day of the 2013 MPEG Grand Teton/ Yellowstone Groupshoot. Like the whole week, we had a perfect weather day, thus the ENTIRE week .... we experienced perfect weather !

Like the last few days, everyone was on their own for the last day of the 2013 YNP/GTNP MPEG Groupshoot. Sadly, we all must go back to reality.

We started out at 5:00 am with one MPEG member choosing to follow us. We elected to go North and promptly got into a bison jam as the Madison herd has the same idea as us. Around Roaring Mountain, a red fox crossed in front of us. I got a nice pose with him sitting on a log. He still had his winter coat.

We continued on to Swan Lake Flats and no grizzs around. We perused Gardiner for elk calves with their moms and no luck. We moved east to Petrified Tree and again no luck... we moved on to Lamar Valley stopping at the Hitching Post pull out. We noticed spotting scopes being set up quickly, and asked why.... (I figured I knew the answer) and I was told "Middle Grey", the mother of this year's Lamar Pack wolves was headed this way!  We set up our gear and Shreeni was told by someone that Middle Grey was spotted down the road hiding in some willows. We rushed to load our gear and moved down the road (I didn't know I would move that quick)... and once we get there, the spotting scope folks pointed her location out to us. She was crouched down but you could see her ears twitching. I was excited. I was directly across from her ....75 yds or so across the river! we all knew she wouldn't stay there for long.  Sure enough, just a few minutes after I got there, she popped up (see blog pic 1) , posed for us and headed East. After a few minutes, she disappeared back into the valley.  Wow.. she is a big, strong looking girl in person. Just beautiful.

After my heart stopped racing from this highlight of the day, we went up to Pebble Creek and photographed the moose cow and her very young calf. We got photos of the calf nursing..... Another special Yellowstone moment.

We went back to Gardiner for lunch with a few MPEGers.  After lunch, we decided to go back to Swan Lake Flats. We found 1 Grizzly grazing (175 yrds out) and then another Grizz showed up. The resident Grizz eventually found the other Grizz and ran him off. The first Grizz grazed more but never came closer after waiting 4 hours... BUT while waiting for the Grizz to come closer, ANOTHER red fox trotted up the road, straight at us, giving us a "out of the blue" photo op.  Two foxes in one day!

We headed back to the hotel early get ready for tonight's wrap up Groupshoot dinner with everyone sharing their fav (or 2) moments.

This Groupshoot is history. We had perfect weather too. This was a great group of MPEGers. 16 MPEG members and 3 spouses. 

I posted a Group photo. They will remember this trip for the rest of their lives.

That's All Folks!

Thanks for all of Blog readers. I appreciate your interest and support!

Stay tuned as I will being posting images from this Groupshoot in the very near future!

Flying back home tomorrow morning.

Goodnight Everyone!

Mark

 

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bridgerpeaksphotography@earthlink.net (Bridger Peaks Photography) http://www.bridgerpeaks.photos/blog/2013/6/2013-mpeg-ynp/gtnp-groupshoot---day-7-june-8-2013-final-blog-post Sun, 09 Jun 2013 06:16:25 GMT
2013 MPEG YNP/GTNP Groupshoot - Day 6 : June 7, 2013 http://www.bridgerpeaks.photos/blog/2013/6/2013-mpeg-ynp/gtnp-groupshoot---day-6-june-7-2013

We had another "beary" good day in Yellowstone today!

Honestly, I have so much to report from today, I don't have the time to write it all tonight.

We left at 5:15 am with 4 MPEG members following us. Some beautiful fog and a spectacular sunrise greeted us in Yellowstone today. We went through Hayden Valley at 6:14am....it was foggy and nothing significant found. We cruised Sedge and Mary Bay, found no bears and turned around (one car following us went up ahead and came across a Grizzly boar about .25 mile ahead, they tried to radio us but we didn't get the radio transmission) and we headed to the Fishing Bridge area.  We came across a grizzly grazing back in a meadow but back-lit. We drove down a ways anticipating him coming out in the clearing. At that point, another photog across the street signaled us and said there was ANOTHER grizzly across the street! This was "Hobo" as they call him. We photographed him in great morning light. Meanwhile, the other Grizz walked right passed us on the other side of the road and only one person saw him pass by and took a photograph. We were concentrating on "hobo".  We spent an hour or so with him then back to Hayden (cow elk carcass with wolves about 1 mile out), on to Swan Lake flats around 9am (no Grizz but we learn later, she showed up at 11am) then to Mammoth where a black bear and a cub had taken an elk calf a few hours before. I have a funny feeling it was that calf born yesterday.

Through Lamar.. quiet... coming back to Tower, found a black bear by the YPA bridge. He was foraging for food. We pulled over, I snapped a few pics and saw he was walking up the path on the hill and figured this event was over and suddenly a marmot (from under some brush ) ran away with the bear in hot pursuit! (see blog post image). It was amazing action. The marmot escaped this time. Tower to Canyon was yet another bear but it was "big bear jam" and we didn't stop. We had a quick lunch at Canyon then visited Artist Point, photographed the Canyon/Lower Falls in great overcast light. We drove out to the YNP East Entrance looking for Big Horns and Moose. We even drove outside the Park and found nothing.

Back to Hayden... decided to try and get closer to the wolves on the carcass. I had to use the 500 with 2x TC.. while back there we saw 3 bald eagles, one bald eagle fighting with some ravens, 3 cow elk and calves with pictures of the mom and baby nose to nose..... What amazed all of us is all the wildlife action we saw a couple of hundred yards off the road. ALL of this you would NOT be able to see from the road. 

The moral of the story is that when you are "cruising" Yellowstone looking for wildlife action, just because you don't "see it" from the road doesn't mean it's not going on!  IMHO, there is no such thing as Yellowstone being "quiet", slow or  dead". The action is going on, you just aren't seeing "behind the scenes".

This is a quick and brief summary of today. Tomorrow is the last day of the Groupshoot. We are planning a 5:00 am departure and finish this Groupshoot strong! We will be having a Group dinner tomorrow night to recap our amazing week. Perfect weather all week with tomorrow's forecast being, you guessed it... SUNNY!

Stay Tuned for Day 7 (final day).

Mark

PS: One of our members (who has never visited Yellowstone until now) had a surreal event happened to him today. He witnessed an elk calf being taken by a grizzly in a split second as he and another photog were talking. The other photog photographed the event but our member said he was so stunned and surprised at what just happened, he "froze" and didn't take a picture of the event. You never know in Yellowstone...... 

 

 

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bridgerpeaksphotography@earthlink.net (Bridger Peaks Photography) http://www.bridgerpeaks.photos/blog/2013/6/2013-mpeg-ynp/gtnp-groupshoot---day-6-june-7-2013 Sat, 08 Jun 2013 05:32:32 GMT
2013 MPEG YNP/GTNP Groupshoot - Day 5 : June 6, 2013 http://www.bridgerpeaks.photos/blog/2013/6/2013-mpeg-ynp/gtnp-groupshoot---day-5-june-6-2013 Day 5

 

I am so exhausted from today's Park photo ventures, I can "bearly" keep my eyes open....  

As I mentioned yesterday, today could be completely the opposite from Wednesday and it was....

We started out today at 5:15 am from Cooke City. It was 34F so warmer from yesterday's 25F start. We saw some elk cows grazing in early morning light. Moving through Lamar Valley which was quiet...moving on towards Mammoth and then I suggested we go to Swan Lake Flats and see if Quad Mom was around and sure enough, she was about 3/4 mile away (but I could easily watch her with 700mm). She chased some elk into the woods, came back out, went back in. Elk cows were running around, looking into the woods..... really fun to watch. I spoke with a couple from Utah and they told me Quad Mom yesterday chased down an elk calf, "slapped her to the ground" and the calf's mom started hitting Quad Mom with her front hoofs, kicking her which caused Quad Mom to back off.. the calf got up shaken but not hurt. She saved their baby this time. This all played out 50-100 yrds from them. He showed me images he took. Amazing... and I missed that.  Hard to be everywhere at one time in this park.

We then headed back towards Lamar and heard on our walkie talkie about a bear jam near Floating Island lake so we hustled over there. We also heard on the walkie talkie that someone stepped in a hole there and dislocated their hip and an ambulance was on the way... By the time we got there, the ambulance was gone but the black bear mom and her COY (cub of the year) were still there and put on a show! I have images of her nursing her cub, holding her cub in their "arms", playing with her cub, etc. Absolutely fascinating to watch and photograph.  

We left there, went over to Lamar and then proceeded to Peeble Creek and came across a beautiful cinnamon bear grazing right by the road and a huge traffic jam. After snapping a few pics of her, we headed back to Lamar and I radioed my photog buddy Jim and told him about this bear .. and he informed me about a NEW bear jam with a black bear and her two cinnamon cubs by Petrified Tree. So we hightail over there and spend 2.5 hours photographing those bears... playing, nursing, posing by tree (see post image), and the coolest photo is a family portrait picture. You couldn't have posed them any better.... Just amazing .. again.....

We then headed back to Mammoth, got a late lunch to go and went back to Swan lake Flats but no luck. While in Mammoth, we saw several people over by the visitor center with cameras but we didn't ask what was going on. It turned out an elk calf was being born and one of our members took images of the event and images of the calf's first steps... How neat is that?  Congrats Ken !

After Swan Lake Flats, we decided to just head into West Yellowstone... check in and try to get to bed sooner tonight. 4 hours of sleep/night starts to catch up with you..... 

We also photographed Pika, saw Marmots and elk bulls and a TON of bison in Madison.

Tomorrow, we leave at 5:00am, head over to Hayden Valley, Mary and Sedge Bay and who knows where else. Only two days left and we are going to get it hard the last two days!

Thanks for reading.

Stay tuned for Day 6.

Mark

 

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bridgerpeaksphotography@earthlink.net (Bridger Peaks Photography) http://www.bridgerpeaks.photos/blog/2013/6/2013-mpeg-ynp/gtnp-groupshoot---day-5-june-6-2013 Fri, 07 Jun 2013 05:19:20 GMT
2013 MPEG YNP/GTNP Groupshoot - Day 4 : June 5, 2013 http://www.bridgerpeaks.photos/blog/2013/6/2013-mpeg-ynp/gtnp-groupshoot---day-4-june-4-2013

Sun, sun and more sun (blue skies too) today. The light was harsh at 8:00 am!

Today wasn't bad. It was slow in the morning but picked up in the afternoon.  Another 16 hr. day in the books. This Groupshoot is >50% history.

We saw lots of cool things and had several "just missed its" but that's the way it rolls here. Tomorrow may be completely the opposite.

We cruised from Lamar to Mammoth to Gardiner to Tower to Hayden to the East Entrance and back.

We saw a bald eagle attempt fishing twice. The second try he must have caught something really big and couldnt' fly with it as he "swam to shore" using his wings as paddles but when he arrived on shore there was no catch to be seen. He was several 100 hundreds away so by the time I could get close with 700mm, he was long gone. It was pretty cool. I had never seen that actually happen in person. We nearly missed 3 elk cows and calves, a pronghorn and 2 fawns, big horned ewes, bears and a wolf fight (between packs- according to second hand info).

I have heard this story from 3 people but I can't confirm it but... at 5:30 am today in Hayden Valley, I was told a grizzly bear (two possibly) flushed a elk herd and took down an elk calf. Nature at work in Yellowstone. Another confirmation that it is essential that one gets out into the Park EARLY to catch the action!

We got some nice images of a coyote hunting in Hayden, an Osprey's nest fight ins and outs, mule deer in evening light and other stuff.

The typical June Spring babes are here: bison and bison calves, cow elk with calves, and pronghorn with fawns

I was speaking with a wildlife photographer today (from Oklahoma). He said he has been in YNP since the first week of May. He noted that this week was the best light and weather they have had since early May. He said the last 3 weeks have been awful weather-wise. So, we are very lucky that the weather has been superb the whole Groupshoot to date. Also the Park people-wise is not busy at all but it still has it's fair share of Tourons.

All the members I have talked to who returned tonight to the hotel were thrilled with their day in Yellowstone.

Tomorrow we move on to West Yellowstone for the last three days of the Groupshoot.

Thanks to everyone reading this Blog!

Let's see what Day 5 brings to us.

My eyes are drooping.  

Goodnight,

Mark

 

 

 

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bridgerpeaksphotography@earthlink.net (Bridger Peaks Photography) http://www.bridgerpeaks.photos/blog/2013/6/2013-mpeg-ynp/gtnp-groupshoot---day-4-june-4-2013 Thu, 06 Jun 2013 05:47:51 GMT
2013 MPEG YNP/GTNP Groupshoot - Day 3 : June 4, 2013 http://www.bridgerpeaks.photos/blog/2013/6/2013-mpeg-ynp/gtnp-groupshoot---day-3-june-3-2013  

Day 3
 

 

I was not a "happy camper" this morning at 4:15am when I looked up at the sky and saw 80% cloud cover.....and as we got closer to the sunrise location, and I realized that it wasn't getting any better....I said a few bad words.

 

All 3 forecasts for the 5am-7am time frame were dead wrong and I thought our sunrise was dead in the water. I hung in there. Looking for breaks in the clouds to allow our scene to be illuminated with morning light. Sunrise was 5:43am. 6:00am -Nothing but the clouds were breaking up some allowing parts of the surrounding mountains to be "lit up" but Mount Moran was flat..... 6:30 - a little better but Moran is still in the dark. I thought all we need was a "hole" to open up and allow light through for Moran and life would be good. 6:45 am.... whoa, we are getting there but not quite... and then at 6:57 am... the photography Gods smiled on me and a hole opened and Moran lit up like a Christmas tree while the area around it was darker.... Nature's vignette! Nature's spotlight! Whatever you want to call it but we had another great sunrise albeit in the nick in time! I had some members "give up", they packed their gear, etc... I yelled, "get back here"... and everyone was very happy. Two great sunrises and a sunset.... Three out of Three "ain't bad".

After this fantastic sunrise finish, we had breakfast at Signal Mountain, went to Signal Mountain summit then headed to Yellowstone. I gave my standard YNP newbie tour. We went to Fishing Bridge to Mary/Sedge Bay, to Hayden Valley>Canyon>Norris to Mammoth to Gardiner to Roosevelt to Lamar Valley. I have turned them loose "on your own". 

On the way to Lamar Valley, I snapped a sly red fox in evening light, one of our members had an interesting experience with a cow elk. We photographed a black bear sow and cub, we saw 3 bald eagles, a bison cow trying to give birth to a calf, and 10 mule deer on the way to the hotel. 

It was great MPEG GS Day 3!

I have  a bunch of exhausted MPEGers.  Me included.

We are sleeping in tomorrow morning.  A 5:00 am wake up call.

Stay tuned for Day 4.

Goodnight.

Mark

 

 

 

 

 

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bridgerpeaksphotography@earthlink.net (Bridger Peaks Photography) http://www.bridgerpeaks.photos/blog/2013/6/2013-mpeg-ynp/gtnp-groupshoot---day-3-june-3-2013 Wed, 05 Jun 2013 06:08:26 GMT
2013 MPEG YNP/GTNP Groupshoot - Day 2 : June 3, 2013 http://www.bridgerpeaks.photos/blog/2013/6/2013-mpeg-ynp/gtnp-groupshoot---day-2-june-3-2013

The official "first photography day" started off with a 4:30 am hotel departure, arriving at our location before twilight. Believe it or not, we were the ONLY photographers there until a few more showed up after we had the BEST sunrise at Mormon Row in my 7 trips to this location. REALLY GOOD! The weather was perfect. Everyone was amazed at the beauty of the scene. They admitted it was worth getting up after 4-5 hours of sleep. We proceeded quickly to the other barn and got perfect front lighting on it, then hustled to the Chapel of the Transfig and photographed it... again, we were the only photographers there. This is way I schedule this GS on a weekday... to avoid "crowds". After the Chapel, all of us proceeded to the Signal Mountain Lodge for a great breakfast.

After breakfast, some of the members split off to explore the park on their own. Jared, Dena and I (followed by a couple of members), proceeded to look for the well known GTNP bears. They were not sighted by us but we were out of our cars... and hear a "cry" that sounded like a calf in distress from the woods but couldn't see anything. I spoke with 2 photographers who saw a Grizzly harassing an elk cow and her calf, they (the bear, cow and calf) then disappeared in the woods. We suspect the cry we heard was that calf as it was coming from that area where they were sighted. It was surmised that the calf was taken down. Nature is not pretty at times.

We proceeded South (made a couple of stops) as the road construction delays going North made travel that way a time waster. We saw bison, elk, and pronghorn.. the usual. We then had some lunch at the Snake River Brewery (great food!). A place recommended by one of my FB followers. I never heard of the place nor would I have found it as it sits two blocks off the main road in obscurity.

After lunch, we went up to the Canyon area (back country) and photographed the Tetons (aerial view) and with wildflowers (balsam root). This area is often not photographed. Jared and I found it two years ago on our own. Nice "off the beaten path" place.

We went back in the park around 5:00pm and looked for wildlife. I suggested we visit the osprey's nest and see if "anyone was home"... we arrived at the nest and everyone was home!  One adult in the nest and the other adult sitting in a tree by the road looking pretty. We photographed him for 15-20 minutes. This was the first osprey that Dena has seen in the wild or photographed!  Good for her.

We got back in time to round up at the 13/19 members who wanted to attend the cookout hosted by my Facebook friend and fellow Buckeye who moved to Wyoming a some years ago (See photo in this post). Howard and his wife were very gracious and great hosts. Everyone loved it- getting out in the back country where it's very quiet and serene. The burgers were good too.

The cook-out location has a high elevation unobstructed view of the Tetons. The clouds were just right and I suggested we hustle and get out gear as this looks like it may be a great sunset (which doesn't happen often here) as the clouds have to be "right" and in the right position with the mountains.

We were treated to a spectacular sunset! I mean, the best sunset I have ever seen in my times in this Park. Really beautiful! I couldn't have been happier for the MPEG members that were there. It was deserving of all the "high fives" that took place.

Overall, a "perfecto" sunrise and sunset kinda day plus other good stuff sprinkled in.....

Tomorrow, we are off at 4:15 am for sunrise at Oxbow. The forecast is perfect at this point. Could we have two perfect sunrises in a row?

After sunrise tomorrow, we will be heading North to Yellowstone where we will be staying the next 5 nights in two locations.

It's 12:04 Am MST and I am beat.

I have a 3:45am wake up call...

Stay Tuned for Day 3!

Mark

 

 

 

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bridgerpeaksphotography@earthlink.net (Bridger Peaks Photography) http://www.bridgerpeaks.photos/blog/2013/6/2013-mpeg-ynp/gtnp-groupshoot---day-2-june-3-2013 Tue, 04 Jun 2013 06:05:16 GMT
2013 MPEG YNP/GTNP Groupshoot Day 1: June 2, 2013 http://www.bridgerpeaks.photos/blog/2013/6/2013-mpeg-ynp/gtnp-groupshoot-day-1-june-2-2013 Day 1

I am pleased to report that all 19 of us made it safely to Jackson, WY after a long day of traveling. No major glitches to report.

The drive over from SLC was easy and absolutely beautiful. Picture perfect skies with painted clouds. Those traveling with me were in awe of the beauty of swan valley with the snake river running through it..... and even a bald eagle made an appearance hunting over the river...

Once we (7 of us) arrived in Jackson, we checked in the hotel quickly and then we were joined by a couple of other MPEG members for an exploration/scouting trip up  Rt. 89/191 through the Park. 90% of the folks on this Groupshoot have NEVER been to either Park, so they were in awe with the Tetons and the wildlife sightings. I am thrilled to give them this opportunity.

We drove up to scout our sunrise location and I explained the logistics of this part of the Groupshoot. We continued on North stopping at Jackson Lake Dam, the we headed back south to get a bite to eat and meet for the 9:00pm Groupshoot meeting.

We held the meeting outdoors as the lobby was too small for our group.

I passed out a full page listings of wildlife sightings and locations based on 5 local photog sources (Thanks guys and gals!) I have on the ground in both Parks. I passed out an agenda for the week so everyone is on the same page..... The Group was (and looked tired) like myself. 

We will be in the GTNP for two days with emphasis on landscape photography and we will fill the rest of the time in with wildlife as we come upon it.

We will be leaving the hotel at 4:30 am sharp for sunrise (twilight begins at 5:09 am MST) with sunrise at 5:44 am. Hopefully things go our way weather wise. Three different forecasts are consistently great so we will see. Mountain weather can be unpredictable.

It is 11:26 pm MST and I am off to hit the hay. It's rise and shine in 4.5 hours..... 

Thanks for all the comments and NEW LIKES on Facebook!

Stay tuned for Day 2!

Good Night!

Mark

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bridgerpeaksphotography@earthlink.net (Bridger Peaks Photography) http://www.bridgerpeaks.photos/blog/2013/6/2013-mpeg-ynp/gtnp-groupshoot-day-1-june-2-2013 Mon, 03 Jun 2013 05:30:58 GMT
Day 7 (FINAL POST) Yellowstone in Winter 2013 - Goodbye Yellowstone http://www.bridgerpeaks.photos/blog/2013/2/day-7-final-post-yellowstone-in-winter-2013---goodbye-yellowstone (L-R)  My son - Jared, Me and Bill

 

Today was the last day of our Yellowstone winter trip. This was the first winter Yellowstone trip for Jared and me. Bill has done the winter trip several times. He was kind enough to invite us along this year. We Thank Bill for his kind hospitality and the experience.  Jared and I have visited Yellowstone in the Fall and Spring (June) so we have now completed the Yellowstone trip cycle! Which one do I recommend?  All of them! .... as far as the abundance and variety of wildlife, June beats them all, however. Jared and I both missed seeing bears in winter but we did have a great time with the moose and big horn rams this trip.  The coldest temp was 7 F and the warmest was 41F during the trip. This was a "warm winter" for Yellowstone.

 

We started the day by entering through the north entrance arch at 7:07 am.  The forecast was cloudy/snow showers. The actual weather was sunny/partly cloudy and BEAUTIFUL! Another wrong forecast...

 

It was still dark/very low light and we decided to make the west to east trip (Lamar Valley). We get just west of Elk Creek and we see two vehicles in front of us stopped.  We asked, "whats up" and the guy says" wolves!"..... We just missed the Blacktail wolf Pack by 30 seconds crossing the road heading north. We got out and looked but they were gone over the ridge. A herd of elk that was grazing to the east of the wolf crossing  when they started running like crazy to "get out of dodge"! We never saw the wolves. We missed the Blacktail wolf Pack the other day by 30 minutes....crap! If any of you have been here, you know the game.... its called LUCK. You win some and lose many..... Timing is critical here.

 

We proceeded east with the usual bison and cow elk. Lamar Valley was quiet so we went further east to where the moose have been and BINGO! 3 Bull moose and a cow moose feeding, drinking, wondering through the snow, fairly close. We photographed them for 45 minutes or so. 

 

We head back west and come across several big horn rams at The Confluence and snapped a few pics. We then come across 2 coyotes wondering through the snow and walking across the ice.... we got some cool (no pun intended) images of them. The elk carcass has been cleaned out even the antlers are gone. We went back towards Gardiner. We saw some wolf watchers but no wolves seen as I was told (except for the road crossing I mentioned). 

 

We had lunch in Gardiner then headed out to explore a few roads outside the Park. We came across a nice bedded down herd of elk, some mule deer and a few winter landscape gems! We went back in the Park (numerous pronghorn grazing by the park north entrance) and made one last west to east-west round trip.

 

We snapped several more winter landscapes on the last roundtrip. The skies were beautiful! The evening light was great and the sunset was very colorful... we decided to stay out and photograph this beautiful sunset as the sunset light bathed the Yellowstone winter landscape.... We savored every minute until sun went down.  On the way back to Gardiner, we reflected on the trip. We were pleased with the trip results and the weather was great 90% of the time! We had dinner with my photographer friends, Ralph Kerr and Jim and Debbie Chagares.

 

We had hoped for some close wolf encounters. We missed two by minutes and seconds, we saw the 8 mile Pack via spotting scope and our cameras but not close enough for a good photographic end result. We heard the wolves howl twice and they makes your spine tingle. Trust me. We loved the wolves like so many, but I will say this, Lamar Valley is not the same with the nonsense hunting losses of 06' and 754. There is an eerie silence. The Lamar Canyon Pack has dispersed since 06's death. It is now 755 and his new Mollie Pack lady. We are hoping they will start a new pack and maybe this Spring, there will be some good news!  

Long Live 06' and 754!

 

This has been a great trip with a TON of images to edit. I will be posting some Sunday but many will come over the next several weeks. The NEW slideshow on my website, http://www.galloimagesonline.com will be based on this trip!  

 

Jared and I will be returning to Grand Teton/ Yellowstone in early June with 12 MPEGers and 5 spouses along for a trip they will never forget! 

 

Thanks to all of you (a few hundred) who have read the blog every day. Your interest and support is appreciated!

 

That's All Folks!  We are on our way home in the morning!

 

Take Care,

Mark

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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bridgerpeaksphotography@earthlink.net (Bridger Peaks Photography) http://www.bridgerpeaks.photos/blog/2013/2/day-7-final-post-yellowstone-in-winter-2013---goodbye-yellowstone Sat, 09 Feb 2013 06:05:26 GMT
Day 6: Yellowstone in Winter 2013 - What a Bunch of Bull! http://www.bridgerpeaks.photos/blog/2013/2/day-6-yellowstone-in-winter-2013---what-a-bunch-of-bull  

 

 

We had breakfast one last time at the Bearclaw Bakery. We bid the staff Good Bye. We will see them again in June when I return with 12 MPEGers and spouses.

 

We took our time doing some landscape/street photography in Cooke City on the way to the Park. It was a beautiful sunrise, blue sky day!

 

On our way through the Park going westward, nothing too terribly exciting... a coyote hunting along the Soda Butte Creek, the big horn ram was still hanging around the Hitching post area. I stopped to speak with well known Wolf Watcher, Doug McLaughlin. Doug lives in Silver Gate, MT and manages Silver Gate Lodging. We spoke about the Yellowstone wolf situation and 06'. Doug informed me of a new pro-wolf website he is working on. The website is: www.warof754.com  Be sure and check it out and please help support Doug and this great cause! The wolves need every voice they can get! Help Save the Wolves!

 

We proceed west looking for bull elk but nothing but bison and cow elk. We see another coyote near the old elk carcass.  Then we come upon yet another coyote in the road just walking along going from Point A to Point B. We drove up ahead of him... waited and took video of him just walking by us with no fear. I will post the video soon. We proceeded to Gardiner and there was a large crowd at the pull out just before the Park exit (North gate). There were wolf watchers and some photographers observing the 8 Mile Wolf Pack (7 wolves) up on a ridge close to a mile away but you could clearly see the wolves bedded down. Some wolves were up and about. I took images at 1300 mm. They are documentation images, but not suitable for print or posting. The Pack started moving west and so did some of us (along the road outside the north entrance). The wolves began howling which is music to my ears and everyone there. It's an awesome experience! We never found them again but maybe they will hang in the same area tomorrow. We spend 2 hours with the wolves. We decided to go up in Gardiner to look for mule deer and whatever else may pop up. We found several mule deer does but no bucks. I snapped a few nice mule deer images I can't wait to show you....

 

We had lunch in Gardiner and the proceeded back east for one final loop ride. Much of the same (elk cow, bison) and we almost ran over an ermine as it ran across the road in front of us. Those buggers are fast!

 

We found a beautiful coyote in Lamar in a snowy, rock setting and snapped this pretty picture!  Then we had another bison jam (about the 4th one today) and snapped some pics of bison in the snow, etc. Another photographer spotted a golden eagle land in a tree behind us. By the time I got set up and ready to snap his picture, he flew off!  Dang it!

 

We proceed through Lamar and Bill spotted 2 bull elk (finally) on the hillside . We took their picture for several minutes. See image posted in this blog post. We left there and proceeded back to Gardiner for the night. We had a pizza for dinner and called it a night!

 

Well folks, tomorrow is Day 7 (the final day). It has gone super fast as it always does. My final blog post will be tomorrow night, February 8, 2013.

 

I have way over 100 GB of RAW images (so far) so I will have a "just a few" images to edit when I get home. I will be posting a few images on Sunday on my website and on Facebook but the bulk of the editing will have to wait until I return from a business trip to TN/Arkansas next week.

 

Stay tuned for Day 7 (The Finale) tomorrow night!

 

Jared and I will be headed back home on Saturday afternoon. 



 

 

 


 

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bridgerpeaksphotography@earthlink.net (Bridger Peaks Photography) http://www.bridgerpeaks.photos/blog/2013/2/day-6-yellowstone-in-winter-2013---what-a-bunch-of-bull Fri, 08 Feb 2013 04:09:54 GMT
Day 5: Yellowstone in Winter 2013 - "Golden" Opportunities http://www.bridgerpeaks.photos/blog/2013/2/day-5-yellowstone-in-winter-2013---golden-opportunities

 

We started this morning with breakfast at..... (you know where!). The skies were partly cloudy and expected to be partly cloudy/sunny all day.

 

We started out to the Park around 7:45am. We proceed west through Lamar (no wildlife along the way except for bison). We arrive in Lamar Valley and come across a coyote (with his mate) who just woke up.... we got some cool images of him yawning and stretching. His mate was in the sage brush and we left before she appeared. It is our understanding after we left, he was trying some hanky panky with her but she wasn't in the mood.

 

While we were photographing the coyotes, we heard the beauty of wolf howls. They appeared to be coming from the west so we hightailed it westward. We came across the wolf watchers but they lost the signal and surmised the wolves they were following went North. They were not aware of the howls we heard. They suspected it was 755M and his new mate. We were told there were some bull elk on the hill in Lamar but they went over the ridge before we arrived. 

 

We stopped at the Yellowstone picnic area and we were surrounded by bison. I got a beautiful image of a bison with a snowy face and he turned towards the light at the right time. Snap!. We were told of a big horn ram at the next pullout so off we go. We pull in and there is this beautiful big horn ram with the perfect pose in perfect morning light by a tree with a mountain background.. and I am looking at this scene and staying, "OMG, thats perfect"... I admired too long and by the time I started to get out and photograph this scene, he moved..... I kicked myself all day for the missed "Golden" opportunity. I am sure when I am back in June and see that tree, I will kick myself more......

 

We proceeded westward and only saw cow elk and bison. We stopped at the Wraith Falls pull out and spoke with two other photogs who saw and took photos of the two alphas of the Blacktail wolf pack when they crossed the road. We missed them by an hour or so (figures....) 

 

We then proceeded back East and saw nothing  (did some landscapes) until we were back in Lamar Valley.  We were photographing a big horn ram when a photographer told us that the Blacktail Pack brought down a elk cow  by Undine Falls (way off the road) but it might be worthwhile to check out. So we go back west to Undine Falls but all the wolf watchers were gone. We were told the Pack ate their meal and bedded down.

 

Then we were told about a coyote at Blacktail Lakes. We found him with Ralph's help but he was far out. We drive on and a coyote is walking up the road right at us. We brake and left him move by safety. Nothing significant on the way back to Lamar. We drive by the elk carcass and there is a Golden eagle feeding on it! I decided to do some "drive by shooting" and snapped a few pics of the Golden eagle. This was, IMHO, a Golden hit! (pun intended).

 

We headed east with our hotel in Cooke City as the destination but we stopped along the way to do some landscape photography with evening light. The image in this blog is some "snow pillows" we found.

 

As we are driving out of the Park, it started snowing heavily (remember that partly cloudy/sunny) forecast? We come across a accident, the truck doing some National Geographic work in the Park slid off the road and was tilted sideways. There were two rangers and a tow truck there. The roads were slippery from the fresh snow.

 

So, overall, a "slower day" for us vs. the previous 4 days but still a good day as we got many images we never had before!


Tomorrow is Day 6. We are moving out base of operations to Gardiner for the final two nights in preparation for our departure Saturday am

 

Stay tuned for Day 6!

 

 

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bridgerpeaksphotography@earthlink.net (Bridger Peaks Photography) http://www.bridgerpeaks.photos/blog/2013/2/day-5-yellowstone-in-winter-2013---golden-opportunities Thu, 07 Feb 2013 03:58:32 GMT
Day 4: Yellowstone in Winter 2013- Today was an A-Mooseing Day http://www.bridgerpeaks.photos/blog/2013/2/day-4-yellowstone-in-winter-2013--today-was-an-admooseing-day  

We LOVE the Bearclaw Bakery! (Next to the Super 8 hotel in Cooke City, MT). We had breakfast there again this morning.  It was snowing (light) this morning then stopped by the time we left for the Park around 7:45am. It was cloudy most of the day this side of the Park (east) but on the west side (Gardiner) it was beautiful.. blue skies, sunny.... Tomorrow's forecast is mostly sunny....

 

We started the day driving through Lamar Valley and saw nothing...then we come upon another coyote (snow/ice on his face) in the road. He looked at us (unfazed by us) , posed and then went into the snowy sage brush looking for something to eat. We watched him as he followed a trail (probably his from previous days). It so happens we positioned ourselves at the end of that trail...he came right at us, we snapped away, he walked right past us (within 10 feet) making his way down the road (east). Jared was already down the road and the coyote just walks towards him, Jared kept walking away, the coyote kept walking his way....The coyote then went to the left side of the road and continued on his merry way. We got some really nice images of him. We surmised the coyote was headed to the elk carcass which was 0.3 mile down the road.

 

We continued on to Gardiner. We saw some cow elk along the way. I really want to get some bull elk. Maybe tomorrow? We saw Lamar Canyon Pack 755M and his new Mollie Pack girlfriend resting through a spotting scope. I am told the rest of the Lamar Pack is in Wyoming somewhere (out of the Park). Everyone is expecting 755M and his GF to mate this season and start a new Pack this year.... Hopefully. So far, we have had no close encounters with wolves yet.

 

Once in the Gardiner area, we noted no big horns in the canyon. We came across a huge herd (30-40 at least) of pronghorn (just before leaving the park) and they stampeded across the road and went up on the hills to feed. We got some nice images of these guys. We proceeded out of the Park and went down a little known road and found more bison, more pronghorn (these pronghorn were along the road and never budged as we drove by) We snapped more pronghorn images. We continued on the road and came across a lone bald eagle sitting in a tree by the Yellowstone River. Snap. Snap. Snap. He then flew off and was joining by another bald eagle plus we saw two more bald eagles soaring for a total of four...

 

We then ventured further out of the Park up another road and found some beautiful horses in the snow, a young mule deer posted for us with a snow / mountain back ground and then we took some overlook landscape images of Gardiner / the mountains around Gardiner. It was sunny, blue skies and the cloud formations were great! We had lunch at Subway. Snapped a pic of 4 mule deer in someone's front yard by the road. Very tame mule deer.

 

We made out way back to Lamar and again, saw some cow elk but not much otherwise....until we came across a stunning big horn sheep ram in Lamar in the perfect setting!  I mean this boy was a "Gorgeous George"!

 

No golden eagles seen today but I want one of those too!

 

After the big horn ram encounter, we moved towards Cooke City and came across four (4) moose at Pebble Creek. Two of the bulls shared a friendly moment then they started sparring. You could hear the antlers clacking as these two toyed with each other. The image in this blog post is the "Moose Smooch" before the sparring. It was low light, cloudy. The posted image was taken with the Canon EOS 1D Mark IV, 700mm, ISO 3200, f 5.6, 1/1600 and + 2 plus EV. I have number images of the sparring. Fun stuff!   The moose encounter ended our day.... with a great dinner at the Bistro Cafe in Cooke City.

 

3 more days to go!

 

Can we top the last 3 days?

 

Stay Tuned for Day 5 tomorrow!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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bridgerpeaksphotography@earthlink.net (Bridger Peaks Photography) http://www.bridgerpeaks.photos/blog/2013/2/day-4-yellowstone-in-winter-2013--today-was-an-admooseing-day Wed, 06 Feb 2013 04:16:24 GMT
Day 3: Yellowstone in Winter 2013 - Another Day in Paradise http://www.bridgerpeaks.photos/blog/2013/2/day-3-yellowstone-in-winter-2013---another-day-in-paradise  

Another Day in Paradise...

 

Today, started with a great breakfast at the Bear Claw Bakery at 6:30 am.

 

We geared up and left for the Park around 7:15am. It was cloudy which eventually turned to partly cloudy in the afternoon despite the forecast of cloudy all day. We did experience some snow flurries in Lamar Valley for short time.

 

Except for bison, we didn't see much wildlife before noon (compared to yesterday) . The wolf watchers said wolves were up on the ridge (north side of the road in Lamar ) but we missed them (of course...). We drove the route out to Gardiner and saw some big horn sheep there in the Canyon but they were way up there. We proceeded to Gardiner to gas up and did some landscape photography around the Arch entrance. We did see several elk today whereas we saw 1-2 cow elk yesterday. We photographed more landscapes then proceeded back to Lamar, scoping out landscape ops and looking for wildlife... we made a return trip out towards Gardiner (but only went past Petrified Tree a little bit and then turned around).. we were all grumbling about how slow it was wildlife-wise was when suddenly, a beautiful coyote appeared in the road in front of us.

 

We moved closer (in the car) assuming he would veer off into the field to the right but the snow was deep and he just stood there looking at us. We were maybe 20-25 yrds away. He wasnt concerned about us, he was listening with those big ears (thus hunting for food). The food was more important than us guys from the Midwest.  He was cocking his ears, trying to locate his prey under the snow.. then he took his stance and he was about to leap in the air (as they do) to pounce on his prey.... He leapt and we lowered the hammer on the shutter button capturing the "leap sequence"... He missed his prey and he continued to dig in the snow trying to find it. Fun stuff! He continued to hang around close but we decided to move on. We got some very nice images of bison with front light as well.

 

We proceeded east..... and upon entering Lamar Valley , another coyote was hunting and he got his prey. We have images of him walking away with his prey in his mouth.... Boy, the place went was "dull" to "action packed" out of the blue BUT if you ever been here, you know this is how it works...you never know!

 

As we continued east, we came upon about 10 big horn sheep rams grazing next to the road on the hill side. We captured a few images of these guys. It was close to 4:30pm so we decided to make our way back to Cooke City and hoping for more cool stuff...

 

Our wish was granted...

 

As we approached the Soda Butte/Soda Butte Creek area, the sun broke through the clouds and poured golden sunset light right smack on the Soda Butte rock formation and small area around it but no where else. The rest of the valley to the right and behind it remained dark, leaving the Soda Butte rock formation illuminated on its own..... a real lucky event. It looks as if the Soda Butte formation is "light painted" but it was Nature's natural spotlight that did the job. We just snapped the pictures. (see image inserted). It you look closely, you can see a lone bison at the 3 o'clock position (on the right).

 

We all jokingly remarked that we are the only 3 humans in the world who witnessed and photograph this event. Actually it was kinda magical.

 

If you are unfamiliar with Soda Butte formation/creek, click here for more info!

 

Tomorrow is Day 4 and we can't wait to see what we witness. 

 

Trust me. In this Park, no two days are alike and just when you least expect it.... something cool pops out at you.

 

Stay Tuned...

 

 

 

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bridgerpeaksphotography@earthlink.net (Bridger Peaks Photography) http://www.bridgerpeaks.photos/blog/2013/2/day-3-yellowstone-in-winter-2013---another-day-in-paradise Tue, 05 Feb 2013 04:03:51 GMT
Day 2: Yellowstone in Winter 2013 - We are Ram tough! http://www.bridgerpeaks.photos/blog/2013/2/day-2-yellowstone-in-winter-2013---we-are-ram-tough After hitting the hay last night at 2:00 am, we were back up at 7:00 am. Jared returned the rental car at the Bozeman Airport and then Bill, Jared and I made our way to Yellowstone National Park. We saw three juvenile bald eagles on the way to Gardiner, MT (YNP Park North Entrance).

 

Within minutes of entering the Park we come across several Big Horn Sheep grazing in Gardiner Canyon. We proceeded to make our way over to Cooke City taking our time. Some bison were "running" down the road in front of us (past the bridge) , we stopped and unexpectedly ,we came across 3 mule deer in a nice forest/snow scene. A buck and 2 does. 

Then we came across a crowd of wolf watchers watching a pack of wolves bedded down but they were spotting scope distance not photographable.

 

We continued on the Northern Range route and came across more bison (lots of bison around) grazing, bedded down, and a few sparing. Just past Slough Creek, a lone coyote was trotting down the road towards us. He had a lots of blood around his mouth and under his chin. He veered right and started rolling in the snow trying to "wash off" the blood... We deduced there must be a fresh carcass close by , so we went up the road and sure enough, there were 6 long lenses manned by the road on the right side of the road pointed up to the hillside on the left.  There was a fresh bull elk carcass there. In speaking with the photographers, the elk was alive the day before but found dead this morning. This photography bonanza didn't last long as the rangers put up signs and shooed the photographers away this afternoon.

 

We continued on and ran into another coyote coming down the road towards us (by the entrance sign of Lamar Valley). We see yet another lone coyote out in the vast Lamar Valley hunting to survive as well. We saw some big horn sheep by the Confluence and more bison plus yet another beautiful coyote....these guys are gorgeous in winter!

 

We continued our tour through Lamar Valley. The beauty of the pristine snow in the Valley was breathtaking...

 

We were photographing some bison and I hear a bald eagle cry...I looked around and there were 4 bald eagles in tree behind me in the middle of Lamar Valley with nice light. We were able to photograph some big horn sheep rams in beautiful light (see pic posted in the blog post). A photographer told me they were photographing these rams (about 30 minutes before we arrived) and he said some wolves started howling across the Lamar Valley. He said the rams really perked up and listened intently to the wolves howling.

 

Our drive from Lamar Valley to Cooke City was a winter wonderland beauty!

We then saw two red foxes and got some nice images of one of them.  The other one eluded us.

We had a pizza in Cooke CIty for dinner and we will be back at it at 6:00 am Monday morning.

Overall, a good day!  5 more days to go....

Stay Tuned.

 

 

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bridgerpeaksphotography@earthlink.net (Bridger Peaks Photography) http://www.bridgerpeaks.photos/blog/2013/2/day-2-yellowstone-in-winter-2013---we-are-ram-tough Mon, 04 Feb 2013 04:19:53 GMT
Day 1: Yellowstone in Winter 2013 - Can you take 21 Hints? http://www.bridgerpeaks.photos/blog/2013/2/day-1-winter-in-yellowstone-2013---can-you-take-21-hints Hello All,

Here are 21 hints about today.  You fill in the blanks.

Day 2 will be made tomorrow evening, Sunday, February 3.

The 21 Hints:

(1) My worse travel experience to date (which includes the last 22 years of extensive business and pleasure travel)

(2) Crashed curbside check in computer

(3) Unusually long check in line inside the terminal

(4) No Triaging

(5) Get to counter "10 minutes late", though I was there 90 minutes before flight....

(6) Attitude was "it was your fault"

(7) Oh, United Airlines

(6) Bumped from original flight to Denver

(7) Placed on the next flight to Denver which takes off on time and lands on time

(8) Placed on Stand-By on the Denver to Bozeman Flight

(9) Mechanical issue with this plane in St Louis (2 hr delay)

(10) This flight is Over Sold by 4 seats thus "you are SOL"

(11) Next Flight to Bozeman -Stand By and this one is OVER SOLD thus "you are SOL".

(12) No More Flights to Bozeman today... "would you like to fly to San Francisco tomorrow then to Bozeman"? (ahhh no thanks) How about to Minneapolis then to Bozeman?  (ahhh no thanks)

(13) Car Rented

(14) Car Rental computer crashes initially

(15) Drive 10 hrs, 705 miles to Bozeman (started 3:00pm MST) (Jared drives the whole way to see if he could do it! and he did!)

(16) Arrive at Bozeman hotel at 1:06 AM MST

(17) Bill Pohley was a saint and picked up our bags from the airport.... The bags flew to Bozeman but we drove. ;-)

(18) Arrive at Bozeman hotel and room key does not work... Another PITA.

(19) Awake now for 24 hrs and kinda tired....

(20) Good Night All

(21) Oh, United Airlines

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bridgerpeaksphotography@earthlink.net (Bridger Peaks Photography) http://www.bridgerpeaks.photos/blog/2013/2/day-1-winter-in-yellowstone-2013---can-you-take-21-hints Sun, 03 Feb 2013 09:16:33 GMT
Day 8: 2012 MPEG Yellowstone/Grand Teton NP Groupshoot (FINAL BLOG POST) http://www.bridgerpeaks.photos/blog/2012/6/day-8-2012-mpeg-yellowstonegrand-teton Elk calf by the Madison River by Mark/MPEG (Midwest Photography Enthusiasts Group)DSC_2815
Elk calf by the Madison River, a photo by Mark/MPEG (Midwest Photography Enthusiasts Group) on Flickr.

It was another exciting day in Yellowstone but sadly, it is the final day of this MPEG Groupshoot.

Everyone was on their own today.

Jared and I started out before sunrise (5:15am) with the goal to get to Lamar Valley by 7:00am. We decided to take the Madison-Norris-Canyon to Tower to Lamar route today.

In Norris, we found a coyote hunting and 6 bull elk grazing by the road and one huge bull elk standing in the middle of the road. It was still pretty dark so I didn't take the time to photograph them.

The drive to Lamar was uneventful. We arrived there around 7:00 am. We cruised Lamar a few times and other than a zillion bison and their babies, and some pronghorn nothing super exciting was seen.

During these cruises of Lamar, We visited the Soda Butte picnic area once and found a cinnamon bear grazing but he was too far out so we returned to the SB picnic area again around 9:30am. The Uinta ground squirrels were out with their babies BUT so was the ermine (short tailed weasel) who resides there as well.

Marty and George joined us photographing these critters. The ermine finally came out of his den, and like lightening, he snatched up a Unita squirrel baby and went back into his den in like 3 seconds!

I was chimping my previous images and I missed the 3 second event but Marty and George got like 2-3 frames... Marty got a nice image of the ermine in midair.

The adult squirrels chased him but it was too late. The weasel would poke his head out and several adult Unitas would go after him...

then a mother Unita ground squirrel started (one by one) picking up her babies and carrying them to safety in their nest in her mouth.

I have never heard of or see such an event. It was fascinating to watch and photograph. She worked hard to protect her babies. I have some great images of this behavior.

We had lunch in Gardiner with Marty and Linda at Cowboys.

After lunch , we went back to Lamar but it started to cloud up and rain.

We ran into a "black bear jam" but there was no photo op but several tourists thought there was one. We moved on.

It was raining pretty good by the time we got in Lamar. A few jams but mostly folks with spotting scopes. Another bear jam but again, no photo op.

We were coming back into Lamar after a short trip back to the Soda Butte picnic area and there was another jam... this time a wolf jam!

A grey wolf was up on the ridge but then disappeared.... I asked Jared to drive down around the bend as she might be there..... with my 70-200 in hand, window open, we go around the bend and OMG, there she was, like 30 yards from me and I froze......just froze. I was stunned she was so close.... she wanted to cross the road but cars and people blocked her way so she retreated back up the hill and I quickly got my 500+1.4TC and took several snaps handheld of her on the hillside. She wasn't going to "get away from me". I got 2 good frames of her. This was the closest I have been to a YNP wolf and it was just plain awesome.

After that event, it was raining harder so we went to the Hitching Post pullout and my photog friend, Jim Chagaras radioed my photog friend, Ralph Kerr (we were all on the same channel) and Jim told Ralph a golden eagle just flew over his car and landed on a rock on the hillside.

Time for more action, I asked Jared to drive parallel to the eagle on the rock and I took 6 frames or so of the golden eagle, handheld at ISO 3200. The images turned out pretty well.

All of this happened within 10 minutes. Whew.

We decided to head back to the hotel around 5:30pm and take one last loop around the park.

We photographed two nice bull elk in Hayden Valley; Another bull elk by Yellowstone Lake (though I asked a lady "whats going on'? she said "its a moose!" and I said "great".... and then I look over the edge of the river bank and the "moose" was a bull elk..... I love Yellowstone and all that comes with it.

We then traveled to Madison and found some nice cow elks and some calves by the Madison River. I wanted elk calf pics so I photographed them along with the cow elk. (see blog pic)

We proceeded to the Wild West Pizzeria for the Groupshoot finale dinner at 8:30pm. Everyone had a a great time and has some memories that will last a lifetime.

I asked everyone at dinner "what was your most memorable photographic moment?"

Here are the answers:

Mark P: The Unita ground squirrel mom carrying her babies one by one out of harm's way from the ermine.

Jared P: Schwabacher's back ("like glass") reflecting pond with reflections of the Tetons.

Marty B: The Bull Moose at the east entrance

Linda B: The Swan Lake Flat Grizzly and her two cubs

Dane A (and Shari): The Pine Marten at Hell Roaring.

George L (and Margaret) : The Rainy lake black bear and two cubs

Barb G: The rainbow at the brink of the lower falls.

The 2012 MPEG Yellowstone/Grand Teton NP Groupshoot was very successful with near perfect weather all 8 days (rain just 7 hours out of 8 days!). The timing was right as the Park is getting busier every day with this weekend expecting to see a huge influx of tourists from now until after Labor Day.
---------------------------------------------------------------
I want to Thank Kim, my wife, for holding the fort down at home alone; Jared for his companionship and driver role at times; My photog friends, Ralph Kerr (from Idaho),  Jim Chagaras (and Debbie) from Indiana and Steve Hinch (Livingston, MT) for their friendship and the laughs along the way.

Of course, my Thanks to Barb, Dane (Shari), George (Margaret), and Marty and Linda for their appreciation of the opportunity and their kind support and co-operation.

AND a Special Thanks to all of the 100+ readers of this blog during this groupshoot. your kind comments and emails have been most appreciated!

I will offer this Groupshoot again in 2013 (tentative dates June 2-9, 2013) but it will NOT be offered in June 2014 as MPEG will be planning a Groupshoot to Yosemite National Park in May 2014.

If you haven't been to Yellowstone to the Grand Teton National Parks, you must go!

Happy Shooting!

Mark

 
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bridgerpeaksphotography@earthlink.net (Bridger Peaks Photography) http://www.bridgerpeaks.photos/blog/2012/6/day-8-2012-mpeg-yellowstonegrand-teton Wed, 13 Jun 2012 23:38:00 GMT
Day 7: 2012 MPEG Yellowstone and Grand Teton NP Groupshoot http://www.bridgerpeaks.photos/blog/2012/6/day-7-2012-mpeg-yellowstone-and-grand 4 Wolves from the Lamar Valley carcass by Mark/MPEG (Midwest Photography Enthusiasts Group)
4 Wolves from the Lamar Valley carcass, a photo by Mark/MPEG (Midwest Photography Enthusiasts Group) on Flickr.

Another beautiful day in Yellowstone! The skies/clouds here amaze me. They look too perfect.

We started out at 6am with George and his wife following us. We drove to Swan Lake Flat and no Quad Mom and cubs again. On to Mammoth where we had a nice look at the Great Horned Owl adult and owlet in the Visitor's center tree.

Mammoth to Tower was empty. Tower to Lamar, we saw the red fox in the distance heading west... then things changed, we arrived in Lamar Valley to a HUGE "jam", at least 1/4 mile long. I thought this has to be wolves and sure enough....

The Mollie pack (11 wolves involved) took down a bison in the early morning hours in Lamar about 500 yards out from the road where we were standing. (the blog image is not a high quality image but good enough to augment the story). The image shows 4 of the 7 wolves (who were there at the time we arrived) by the edge of the river. The carcass is "north of them" in the photo around 40-50 yards. We were told 11 wolves were seen on the carcass earlier.

The Park Service even flew a plane low over the carcass area to assess the situation.

We hung around until 10:45am then Barb joined us at 11:15am (Jared, George, Margaret and me) for the Beartooth Highway excursion. The Beartooth Highway drive is worth doing at least once. You reach a summit of nearly 11,000 feet . We saw marmots, pikas and some beautiful landscapes.

We had a great lunch in Red Lodge, MT together then we traveled the scenic road back to Cody, WY then to the park via Yellowstone's east entrance.

We didn't see much as we went through the Park on the way back to the hotel. The Beartooth Highway trip consumed a total of 6.5 hours but everyone enjoyed it.

The other members who stayed behind reported good days in the Park.

Tomorrow, June 13 is the last day of this Groupshoot. Everyone is on their own to wrap things up...

We are having a Groupshoot finale dinner tomorrow night to celebrate and share stories from this very successful MPEG Groupshoot.

The Day 8 blog post will be the final blog post.

Our last day in the Park will start at 5:00 am.

Let's see what tomorrow brings.....

 
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bridgerpeaksphotography@earthlink.net (Bridger Peaks Photography) http://www.bridgerpeaks.photos/blog/2012/6/day-7-2012-mpeg-yellowstone-and-grand Tue, 12 Jun 2012 21:32:00 GMT
Day 6: 2012 MPEG Yellowstone/ Grand Teton NP Groupshoot http://www.bridgerpeaks.photos/blog/2012/6/day-6-2012-mpeg-yellowstone-grand-teton
Uinta Ground Squirrel mom and baby, a photo by Mark/MPEG (Midwest Photography Enthusiasts Group) on Flickr.

What a difference a day makes...

We had absolutely beautiful weather today all day and the wildlife was back on the job.

Everyone was on their own today to do things like Old Faithful and to gain their own experience in the park. YNP is very easy to learn your way around. You can't get lost.

Jared and I arrive in Lamar Valley at 5:30am as planned. The wolf watchers were at the first pullout east of the Hitching Post pullout.

As we drove by, Jared spotted something running in the distance heading east. He thought it was a wolf but wasn't 100% sure. It was still low light and I couldn't tell either so we went to the Hitching Post pullout, turned around and came back. We then learned a grey wolf crossed the road right where we just passed 3 minutes before! Major bummer. A YNP bridesmaid again....

I would have had a really good image had I got there at the time of the crossing. According to the wolf watchers, the Lamar Canyon pack was scattered over the Park (not together as a Pack) thus a funky wolf morning.

After recovering from this major disappointment (timing is everything in this place), we cruised Lamar Valley, then went to Tower and found a mousing coyote along the road. I got some nice images of this guy.

We proceeded to a known badgers den (mom and 3 cubs) and a Unita ground squirrel family's home. The badgers had moved east to a new sight. We photographed both the badgers and Unitas with fellow photographer friends, Ralph Kerr and Steve Hinch for about 2 hours then we all had lunch in Gardiner.

After lunch, we went to back to Lamar for about an hour a seeking the golden eagles.I was told they (2 golden eagles) and 1 bald eagle juvi perched in a tree close to the road and posed for several photographers .... but me.... this event occurred about 1 hour earlier. Another near miss.

Back to Tower and found another coyote mousing and then on to Mammoth...we encountered a red fox walking down the road towards us and then he slipped up the hill... with me in pursuit with a camera but he disappeared. I was out foxed by a fox......

After exclaiming, "oh, crap" (well , ok,, not the real words), we proceeded to Gardiner Canyon and found several Big Horn sheep ewes and lambs frolicking on the rocky hill side as an osprey with a fish flew overhead and a juvi bald eagle came out of no where and flew overhead as well about the same time.

We got some nice poses with the ewes and lambs.

We proceeded towards the hotel, stopping at Sheep Eaters Cliff but no marmots or pikas seen.

Marty reported being at Sheep Eaters Cliff earlier today and ran into a grizzly there about 30 yards away.

The others members reported in with good days. Barb came upon a very fresh coyote kill by the road in Hayden Valley. Some coyotes took down a mammal. Some think it was a elk calf but Barb wasn't sure. As she witnessed the coyotes tearing the kill apart, three grizzlies (mom and two yearlings) suddenly came out of the tree line and ran towards the kill thus "at the crowd" (of course, people were too close) and they caused folks to flinched a little bit. Barb had bear spray, as is required for this groupshoot, but she had already retreated to her car.

No rangers were around at the time.

Again, this a classic example why you should have bear spray with you at ALL times. You never know in these parks.

Another unpredictable day in Yellowstone.

We have two days left in this Groupshoot. It's crunch time.

Stay tuned for Day 7!

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bridgerpeaksphotography@earthlink.net (Bridger Peaks Photography) http://www.bridgerpeaks.photos/blog/2012/6/day-6-2012-mpeg-yellowstone-grand-teton Mon, 11 Jun 2012 22:45:00 GMT
Day 5: 2012 MPEG Yellowstone and Grand Teton NP Groupshoot http://www.bridgerpeaks.photos/blog/2012/6/day-5-2012-mpeg-yellowstone-and-grand
Grizzly crossing the Yellowstone River (1 of 1), a photo by Mark/MPEG (Midwest Photography Enthusiasts Group) on Flickr.

Well, we BEARly saw anything today.

It was mostly cloudy today, some snow, some sun and the rain came around 5:00pm.

It was a decent weather day but the wildlife seem to take a day off .

The grizzly sow and cubs were not at SL Flats this morning so we went to Mammoth and had some breakfast. After breakfast, we went down to Gardiner, the back over to Tower/Roosevelt. We saw a black bear and a tan variant of a black bear but they were too far away- well over 200+ yards heading back into the woods.

We got some mule deer, pronghorn, bison/bison calf images. We missed a wolf photo op by 20 minutes (of course).

We did get to photograph the black bear sow and her 2 cubs in the Rainy Lake area. I got some decent images before the rangers showed up and moved everyone WAY back, well beyond the 100 yard limit.

We had lunch (Jared and I) in Cooke City then came back west through Lamar Valley and scouted the Tower/Roosevelt again and the Rainy Lake area. The sow and cubs were back but out of sight in the woods. This caused a massive traffic jam but a ranger was there to keep things moving.

We are still seeking the red fox around the Yellowstone picnic area.We missed him by 5 minutes today.

It was starting to rain and we decided to do Lamar Valley one more time as the rain was increasing. As we approached the bridge over the Yellowstone River, we saw a jam and then saw this huge grizzly walking down the middle of the road then veered off to the sidewalk.

Jared took this pic (see the blog pic) from the car window with the Canon 7D/ 70-200mm (we have a lap camera just for these occasions as wildlife here pops up unexpectedly).

Note the Touron (tourist moron as they call them here) following the bear. Maybe 50-60 feet behind him!

Now, if that bear changes his mind and decides to turn around and go back over the bridge heading east and he feels threatened by the touron, the touron has no options...he has no chance to avoid serious injury or death from a POed grizzly.

Note he has no bear spray visible. It should be on his belt for easy access. I am confident he had none as most don't carry bear spray here but should, but thats another discussion.

The others haven't touched base with me yet so I don't know how well they did today. I am eager to hear.

The plan in the morning is to be in Lamar Valley by 5:30am in search of some decent wolf images.... then move over to Hayden Valley, and points south and west after lunch.

Not a bad day considering the weather. The weather tomorrow (Monday) is expected to be sunny. In fact, sunny for the remaining days of the groupshoot!

Stay Tuned for Day 6!

Don't change the channel!

 
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bridgerpeaksphotography@earthlink.net (Bridger Peaks Photography) http://www.bridgerpeaks.photos/blog/2012/6/day-5-2012-mpeg-yellowstone-and-grand Sun, 10 Jun 2012 18:36:00 GMT
Day 4: 2012 MPEG Yellowstone and Grand Teton NP Groupshoot http://www.bridgerpeaks.photos/blog/2012/6/day-4-2012-mpeg-yellowstone-and-grand
Golden Eagle (Yellowstone National Park), a photo by Mark/MPEG (Midwest Photography Enthusiasts Group) on Flickr.

Where do I begin?

First, the weather was BEAUTIFUL all day, sun, etc. despite the forecast of cloudy and rain all day. Sunday's forecast is what today was supposed to be.... so who knows.. we just go out and shoot.

We started out at 5:40am for Swan Lake Flats in hopes of finding Quad Grizz Mom there and her 2 cubs. We arrived at 6:35 am and found not only quad mom and her cubs but 75-100 other photographers! It was a zoo.

The bears were rooting for roots to eat and moved closer to us. I backed off to my car as they were 40-50 yards away. About that time a ranger showed up and instructed everyone to get into their cars.

The bears moved closer and ended up in the pull out with the cars! One cub scratched his back on a sign pole and then placed her front paws on the hood of a car looking at the photographer inside.... at which time the ranger blew a whistle which caused the bears to disperse 50-75 yards away.

Grizz mom rooted as the cubs wrestled with each other over a stick they found. I was using a full frame camera and got full frame bears, they were that close. The two cubs playing was a joy to see. A heavy fog developed quickly which made photography impossible but the fog eventually lifted for clear images again.

The bears eventually crossed the road and fled to the woods around 8:30am, so we had about two hours with them! Great stuff!

We moved on to Mammoth then to Tower/Roosevelt. Not much. We went on to Lamar and found two black wolves wondering around Specimen Ridge area. We followed them as they came upon a bison herd. Before they every got close the whole herd was looking in the wolves' direction. The adult bison surrounded the bison calves (the calves being inside the circle) as 3 bull bison stood together, walking towards and looking at the wolves as if to say, "come on, we are ready to fight"...

The wolves did the math and figured 2 against these guys wouldn't work well so the slithered off north and out of sight.

This was really amazing to witness. Except for National Geographic films, I have never seen this before live. Really special to see.

We moved on to Lamar and saw a grey wolf cross the road ahead of us and up the hill with a zillion people watching.

Lamar Valley has a TON of bison and calves this year. Lamar is THE place for action. It seems always something going on there.

We left there and went to Canyon for lunch then over to Hayden Valley (no action), Fishing Bridge then all the day to east entrance and back. We had sun,wind, rain, snow and sleet on that trip! We saw a cow moose but she was back in the woods. We did find two bull elk in velvet by Mary Bay. No action alone Mary or Sledge Bay.

The MPEGers following us departed for the hotel but Jared and I decided to make another Lamar Valley run. We had a black bear jam and a big horn sheep jam along the way.

We got to the Hitching Post pull out about 2 hrs before sunset and I was speaking to some other photographer's there (with my 500 mm lens in my hand as I was about to set up) when another golden eagle (see blog pic) come flying around the same area as the day before . With about 1-2 seconds to react, I took 10 images, handheld and hoped for the best. 3 out of 10 images were decent. It was over in a blink of an eye.

I was told today that there is a pair of golden eagles nesting in the rock cliffs by the pullout (we saw both yesterday soaring) and I guess this is one of the pair. I like the image but i want more! We plan to spend a lot of time in Lamar Valley Sunday and Monday early for more golden eagle and wolf photo ops.

Dane reported photographing a black bear and a pronghorn mom give birth to two fawns.
George found a nice osprey nest. Marty and Linda got some grizzly and black bear sow and cub images on Saturday.

Jared and I got into the hotel at 10:10pm after a LONG day in the Park.

Let's see what Day 5 brings......

 
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bridgerpeaksphotography@earthlink.net (Bridger Peaks Photography) http://www.bridgerpeaks.photos/blog/2012/6/day-4-2012-mpeg-yellowstone-and-grand Sat, 09 Jun 2012 22:58:00 GMT