Yellowstone is a very unique and diverse ecosystem … one where you never know what you’re going to be treated to … and the conditions and weather overall can change in a moments notice. To me, that’s a large part of the beauty and mystique of Yellowstone NP.
On this particular morning, the fog was heavy and the clouds were low. Though it wasn’t exactly what I was hoping for, often things present themselves in a fresh perspective. This bull elk, already sporting some new antlers covered in soft velvet, was found out in the open grassland. I couldn’t help but notice how wonderful it looked, with those thick clouds in the background. I knew at that point that it would be an exciting day.Yep, it would be a day of varied wildlife for sure. It wasn’t long before we spotted this lone black wolf in the distance on the open plains … in stalking mode. No reinforcement from the pack was seen nearby and a solo sandhill crane effectively alerted all potential prey of its presence. Needless to say, it gave up for the moment and traveled along its way. OK, so I have to share an amusing moment with everyone … when we were photographing the wolf, a car pulled up and asked us if we had spotted a … horse! Not really sure how this looked like a horse … especially with the group of long lens photographers who were setting up … for a horse?! LOLYellowstone always has its fair share of bison which I’m always fascinated with. Not sure if it’s their size, their manner as they move about, or the fact that maybe my mind goes back to the bison heads that used to hang on the walls of “Country Bear Jamboree” show at Disney when I was growing up. :-)Of course, in the spring, there are always lots of “red dogs” nursing off their moms … just the cutest things to watch until they ram their heads into the moms bellies. Ouch!Can anyone out there resist this one with its “Milk Mustache”?Pronghorn antelope were also quite prevalent during the spring. This male was chasing around the female, who was pregnant, relentlessly.Quite honestly, I thought it was going to drop that baby right then and there!Red fox are favorites of mine. We caught this one waking up from napping in the shade. Of course, deer also are fun to spot and photograph, especially when you’re treated to a “two-fer” … two for one, that is.Springtime is confirmed with the presence of bluebirds darting about. Though it was well into May and the official spring season according to the calendar, but in Yellowstone calendar dates aren’t necessarily what determines the season … and snowfall in spring or even summer can happen at any time.Just to add a bit of excitement to our day and drive throughout Yellowstone, as we were traveling this tight section, with dropoffs to the right, we heard a noise and watched as an icy boulder came down the mountainside right in front of our car. Thankfully Tom was able to stop in time and we got out to investigate.At first, we thought that we would simply pick it up and off the road by hand. No way that was going to work, as this frozen boulder was HEAVY! So while Jen and I blocked any oncoming road traffic, the guys used Tom’s truck to drag it off the road and harm’s way with a couple of heavy tow straps. Great job Travis and Tom!Good deeds are usually rewarded I believe. Kind of like karma. Not more than a mile or two down the road, we spotted a bighorn sheep ram … then realized it was an entire herd of boys.At first, I wasn’t sure that they were feeling too comfortable with us being there, so we stayed way back, encouraging them to possibly come out for some shots.They did just that … and eventually jumped over the rail, onto the road briefly, then proceeded up the mountainside. I just love the way that they stare with those big eyes. At some point, we pulled over to find some Barrow’s Goldeneye swimming in the still icy water. This couple was trying to have a few moments of “alone time”, but another male had other plans.Over and over, it would be chased off, only to give it another chance. LOL. It would swim directly over to the lovebirds and a scuffle would ensue.Defending it’s female mate, the male Barrow’s goldeneye would charge after the intruder. You could hear the action … calling out, running on the surface of the water, water splashing everywhere … so funny to watch and quite interesting as well.Every so often, after a successful defense, the paired male would sit up and perform a well executed flappy series for us.The ground squirrels, always on the menu for many wildlife species in the park, alert each other as to the goings on of prey.In this case, it was the badger on the prowl. I was so excited … after all, it was my first!I had been looking for these guys every time I visit Yellowstone. Finally! Thankfully (for us anyways), we never saw it catch anything. I’ve heard stories of how relentless it can be for young wildlife.So this year, the trip was already known in my mind for the wide variety of wildlife that we saw. Sure, we hadn’t seen a wolverine yet … but I really wasn’t expecting that. Though I can dream, right?Even a yellow-bellied marmot came out to greet us, as it basked in the warmth of the sun.OK, one last glimpse of these young great horned owls before we retreat back to our B&B for the evening … ready to do it all again in the early morning.Can’t every get enough of Yellowstone NP, that’s for sure!Next Up: What species of wildlife scares me most? At least on this trip … :-O Tune in to find out.
© 2016 Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography