Welcome to the GIO Blog!
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.
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).
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......
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.
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.