As I mentioned in the last blog post, sometimes the heat comes early to south Florida, and I have to get away to cool down. Tom always goes out west with his buddies on an annual snowboard trip in January, so what better time to meet up with him on a side trip to Yellowstone NP.
From the first time, 2 years ago, when I visited Yellowstone NP in the dead of winter, I knew how incredibly special it was … the silence, the cold, the lack of visitors, the winter wildlife … all make for an experience that you won’t soon forget. There’s something so beautiful about encountering the wildlife in the snow, such as this healthy coyote, with its thick winter coat.Some areas of the park in early February were already starting to have sporadic snow cover, which allowed the bighorn sheep to be able to dig in the sparse snow cover and find lichens and new shoots of grasses to feed upon.The rams seemed to be out in force too this year.I’ve always been fascinated by bighorn sheep, especially their eyes, which are so hypnotic to me. They are often locked on us, while they graze or simply chew on the hillside.When photographing wildlife out in the wilderness, sometimes patience is required. For this particular image, I remained in place and tried to stay calm and relaxed, hoping for him to climb higher to the crest of the hill, so that I could get that amazing blue sky as the backdrop to show him off. Yes, patience can sometimes be rewarded. 🙂Bighorn sheep have horns, which I like to refer to as curls, which they keep lifelong. Consequently, those horns carry the story of the life that the sheep has lived, including all of its battles. I often stare at them and wish that I could be privy to the animals life history.This year, we found a lot of fox roaming around. Most were hunting near the roads or off on the trails, mousing in the deep snow, or resting along a log. However, this red fox was spotted in the crack of high rocky landscape … an unusual sighting for us for sure. Reportedly it was hanging out in the area for a bit, then disappeared for a few days after a coyote was found hunting nearby. We were sure happy to see that it returned just in time for us to observe and photograph it.It would give us so many expressions and poses, but one thing is for sure … it sure was quite comfy way up there.The eyes of the red fox are also quite beautiful and I get so excited when our eyes meet as they travel past us. On one of our days, we were having a wonderful sunny early morning … until it turned cloudy, windy, and cold … until it turned into blizzard-like conditions. It was like someone would open and close the “wind tunnel door”. It made me appreciate what these animals have to endure during the winter months and how difficult their survival was.Massive in size, but slow in movement (unless perturbed) is the bison. They were seemingly everywhere along the valley road and would often be spotted walking the road … otherwise known as the “path of least resistance”. Otherwise, they could be spotted off in the distance in search of food and running water.An image that I really wanted to capture this winter was that of the bison, with its face covered in the snow, so incredibly iconic of Yellowstone in the midst of winter. I was amazed at how the snow would cake up on their fur … though it was caked up on the photographers who were braving the snow and blowing wind as well.Bison are actually quite smart in that in their search for food, they swing their heads from side to side as they made their way through the snow, making a clearing for them to try to find some food to eat.When they would lift their heads, that iced-over face image is the result. I think that I accomplished my goal of the snowy faced bison. 🙂As we were leaving, a coyote appeared and seemed to be inquisitive as to why we were leaving so soon. Don’t worry there Mr. Coyote … we’ll be back for several more days.In the winter, the sunset comes early … and spectacularly. The perfect ending to a perfect few days so far in the north end of Yellowstone NP in the winter … I think my favorite season. With all of the “eye candy” I saw today, I know that I’ll have sweet dreams tonight.Next Up: More images and stories from Yellowstone NP … but from the West Yellowstone entrance.
© 2016 Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography