Yellowstone National Park, USA

Not surprisingly, it went too far out on the thin ice and went through. Not being able to get back up there was no other option but to cross the river. The situation was not different there and he went back. We were wondering if he would make it or drown. Finally the current tok him downstream and to more shallow waters and he managed to get ashore on our side. Next question was, what would the rest of the crowd do?I visited Yellowstone National Park together with a group of photographers arranged by Natures-Images from UK in the beginning of Feb 2015. We flew in to Bozeman and picked up two vans that were used the first three days of the trip. We stayed in a small town named Gardiner just outside the North Gate of the park. The plan was fairly simple, drive up and down the Lamar valley, between Roosevelt and Cooke City, and simply keep an eye open for any wildlife that was within shooting range of our large lenses.

Not surprisingly, every time we drove up and down the valley different animals and situations were spotted. It is worth mentioning that at this time of the year the park rangers are not that strict preventing parking outside assigned locations and walking along the road. During the first afternoon drive we, as expected, saw a lot of bisons, a few elks and bighorn sheep. Nothing special but we got our cameras going, which is important as everyone had great expectations for this vacation. The second and third days were dedicated to coyote and fox. Both were observed in the open landscape but they had a tendency to drift away from where we were positioned on the road. However, we were in luck and managed during the course of these two days to get both within camera range and we even got shots while they were jumping for mice or bison rats. In spite of the fact that this was a photo tour with focus on wildlife, you have to take the opportunity to take some landscape photos too and consequently we could not avoid spending some hours in Mammot Hot Springs.

On day four we were picked up by two wiesels, capable of driving on snow covered roads in the park. The process were the same as the first days but his time we had two local guides who knew the wildlife within the park well. This knowledge made it possible to for us to look for certain animals at dedicated spots.

First afternoon we had a stop at Norris Geyser Basin and then to look for bobcat, which we found relatively quickly at its usual hunting location on the river bank of Madison river. A couple of hours we spent on the opposite riverbank while the bobcat was hunting at the opposite river bank. Second day inside the park we drove the full circle, from Old Faithful, where we stayed, to Norris, Canyon Village, along Yellowstone lake and back again to Old Faithful. The day started with heavy snow and in that weather we got some nice shots of bison and coyote. Then it was a 45 mile drive to Yellowstone river where there are some good spots for whooper swans and otter. The swans were at the expected location and we had a long photo session with them. On the opposite river bank there was a herd of bison having their afternoon rest. We did not pay much attention to them, but when one of them got up and went out on the thin river ice the situation changed. Not surprisingly, it went too far out on the thin ice and went through. Not being able to get back up there was no other option but to cross the river. The situation was not different there and he went back. We were wondering if he would make it or drown. Finally the current tok him downstream and to more shallow waters and he managed to get ashore on our side. Next question was, what would the rest of the crowd do?

After some hesitation they all jumped in and got into the same problem as the leader. Luckily they all made it and we had witnessed something few have done. Next stop were the fishing spot of the otters.

As expected it did not take long before we spotted three of them running along the river bank or swimming in the water. For them this was not a hunt but time to play and have fun as they are known for. Another couple of hours with these guys and it was time to head back to camp. According to park regulations you are not allowed to drive around after dark. Do not ask me why. The following morning it was time to pay Old Faithful a visit as the sky was blue and the sun was shining. The problem was that the initial outburst was just a small one. Not much to take home as a memory . This was disappointing but fortunately by coincidence we got to witness the second outburst and that was much better, but even that was just half of what it can be. Next time I have to hope for better luck. The rest of that day was nothing special. We just had too bright and no special sighting. Not all days can be equally spectacular and packed with events. The time had come to an end and we had just one morning left for photo and then head back to Gardiner and then Bozeman. On our way we observed a fox far out on the plains hunting. He was zigzaging back and forth looking for food. To our surprise he changed direction and was heading straight for us. All lay still and did not move or say anything, the only sound was the cameras clicking. Is was closer that 10 m from us before it drifted across the road and disappeared into the woods. A fine last session on a memorable photo tour.  

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