Monday, June 3, 2013

Yellowstone - Part Two - Grizzly Bears

The first day of the tour I had my first grizzly bear sighting ever in the wild.  It was over a mile away on the top of a hill, so it wasn't the best view.  Even with a spotting scope, you could barely discern that they were bears nevermind grizzlies. They were moving away from us and out of sight.  We spotted the trio again on the next day in the same general area and just as far away.

Sow grizzly with her two cubs. Just a set of small dots in the middle of photo.

Day two also yielded those courting pair of grizzlies.  They were also at an impossible distance, but cool to see.
Courting pair of grizzlies. Another set of dots.

Later in the day yielded a better view of a grizzly, even if it was probably at least a quarter mile away.  This was in Lamar Valley where there was a carcass in a small and hidden valley.  The carcass had several ravens, coyotes, and a lone wolf.  We got word as we were watching the activity at the carcass that a grizzly had crossed the road and was likely heading towards that carcass.  It was so exciting to see that grizzly come in with a purpose.  It was hot on the trail through the sagebrush.

Incoming grizzly
Then it met its welcome wagon of a trio of coyotes.  They have a den nearby so they were very anxious with the imposing visitor.  I had my own internal soundtrack for their interactions complete with grizzly huffing and chewbacca noises.  The grizzly swirled around in annoyance but pressed onward. 
Grizzly and its three coyote harassers/escorts
The grizzly first lost two of three coyote escorts. They must have went back to their den to mind their pups.  I was a bit worried for the last coyote escort since it was so close to the grizzly and it would take just one swat to take it out. But eventually this coyote lost interest and left the grizzly.  The grizzly sauntered onward towards the Lamar River and away from the carcass.  The nearby bison herd decided to cross the Lamar River away from the grizzly. I don't know if this was coincidence or fear of the grizzly.

Where are you going, buddy?
Bison crossing the Lamar River.

Meanwhile at the carcass, the wolf had long gotten word of the grizzly and had taken off down the valley.  We decided to follow the wolf in hopes of catching it and perhaps getting a better look at it.  That will be discussed in the wolf chapter. After our wolf hiatus, we came back and saw that the grizzly made it to the carcass.
I shot this in full auto mode since I hadn't been happy with my photos and boy are the colors horrible. 

To be continued since adding photos to this post is progressively becoming more difficult.......

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