Tuesday, June 14, 2011

2 million acres of AMAZING

OK; yes, I'm aware that this train has NOTHING to do with Yellowstone, but we did see it on our trip home. As we made our way toward Echo, UT from Evanston, WY, we passed this train. Brynn had to shoot the pic from our moving car so we couldn't capture the whole thing. But this train was a mile long and each and every flat bed (the whole train) had these tanks on them. It was so crazy to see a mile of these tanks just going down the train tracks. I have no idea where they were going but, ARE WE PLANNING ANOTHER WAR?!?!
OK, this was also on the way home, through Randolph, UT. A few trees at the tiny post office were full of maybe 20 vultures. I've taken pictures of these birds before, in other places, but I couldn't resist. Pretty cool creatures, if you ask me. Nature's garbage disposals for any and every carcass.
This is Lewis Lake, and is actually in Grand Teton National Park, south of Yellowstone; the two are connected. I was actually surprised that the entire lake was still covered with ice in mid-June. But it made me happy; I'm not nearly ready for the Summer heat. This lake is at 8000 feet above sea level, so I guess it's not all that unusual for it to be frozen.
These were the last animals I shot in YNP. They're sandhill cranes. I have seen them and shot them before, here in Utah, but I had never seen a sandhill chick. Come to think of it, I haven't seen the babies of very many birds at all, especially the wild ones. This is an excellent time of year to visit YNP if you're into babies. Most of the animals have them now.
Just a landscape. I am sort of sad that I didn't take more time to shoot landscapes, as there are many, many incredible opportunities for them in Yellowstone. I need a second camera so I can keep one set up for super telephotos of wildlife, and the other for landscapes. This shot is OK, but I passed up some amazing shots out of pure laziness and sort of a one-track mind for wildlife. But I think you still get the idea that YNP is a very special, very beautiful place. 2 million acres of intact ecosystem. I wish places like this were more valuable to people. Instead, the special places are usually considered "waste land" and prime locations for drilling rigs or coal mines and the like.
This momma badger is out hunting for ground squirrels. I watched her leave her den and disappear down a squirrels den for about 5 minutes. She came up with nothing, unfortunately, but went on hunting. I thought I'd hang out by her den to see if she'd return with food for her babies, but I was pressed for time and had to leave before that happened.
Here's momma with her two babies. Aren't they cute? They were really fun to see and to watch as they played with each other, practice fighting like a lot of other baby animals. We used to see a lot of them around here, but it's been over ten years since I've seen any. The farmers have killed them off; guess they didn't like them threatening their chickens. Even I killed one once, in order to keep it from killing a small puppy chained up in someone's yard. I wish I hadn't have now. But I'm pretty sure that puppy would have been badger food if I hadn't.
This is one of three grizzlies I saw while in YNP this time. The first one was too far out to bother with the camera. The second one, which was in this same area, was still pretty far out; I have pictures that aren't worth posting. This guy was awesome and ended up walking right by me and another photographer. He passed by us at about 20 yards and then went into the river, swam across, and this is him getting out the other side.
This is him again; doesn't he have a cute butt?
Here he gave us a little smile for the camera before going on. I was ecstatic to get pictures like these. I've definitely had less successful trips than this one before. Thanks for showing up, Mr. Bear!
These are river otters. I was lucky enough to shoot some two Winters ago in YNP. At that time, the river they were in was mostly frozen. But they'd go in what little open water there was and come up with fish after every dive, it seemed. There were 3 this time, though I only managed to get two in the shot. When I saw them, I was too close for the lens I had on. I waited just long enough to get this shot, which isn't great. Then, they dove in and went upstream to fish, only poking their heads up a couple of times. Wish I could have done better with them. Oh well, I'm so driven to get back up there. In another life, I'll be a wildlife photographer ;)


Brynn said...

great trip and super pics. lets go again.

Kari said...

Your pics definitely make me want to go! We saw a very similar train in Springville last week. Will loved it!

The lake pic looks so cold for this time of year!

I've never seen a sandhill chick either. And I haven't seen any duck chicks in the Springville industrial park area yet either. Usually there are a ton of them.

Love the meadow shot and all the animals. I'm glad you were able to see so many!